Monday, December 29, 2014

Gratitude Monday --To Its Time


I am grateful for 2014.
It was a good year.

There was travel and camping, and picture taking  expeditions.  Yes,  this is the year I had cancer, but even that is good.
Among the lessons offered by said disease is the need to let go,  and the need to get past obstructions. The way to get past an obstruction is to let the thing go.

Meditation is something I do almost daily. Mine is a hybrid of meditation-hypnosis as they occur in the same level of consciousness.  Often I start with writing, be it gratitude, free writing, sorting out something on my mind, whatever.
Then I move on to the altered state work. In it I take whatever gets dredged up and look at it.

In the past I would simply acknowledge the incident, admit it, and move away from it.
Now I add one more step. Because of the lessons of 2014 I learned this:
Leave it to its time.

Recall an embarrassing moment?  A stupid thing you did, said, believed? They come up at the most annoying times. When they do it is because they've something to show you.
Acknowledge them, accept them, and leave them.
If it happened when you were 12, then it is a part of your past and stays at 12. You can't undo what happened, you can only get beyond it.
If you did it last week, leave it there. Granted that's still pretty fresh.  It may take some time and distance to get beyond it, but if it is important to your growth it will come back to haunt you.
When that happens, let it bubble up and then leave it to its time.
It is a part of your past. That is where it belongs.

The experience of it stays with you and that is what is important. What you've learned, how you've grown, those things matter.
Keep the lesson, leave the incident.

With that I acknowledge 2014 and those matters which may be perceived as bad. I am grateful for them, and I leave them to their time.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Photo -Finish Friday - The Farm at the End of Time

Have you ever wondered what happens if you don't use fixer on a photograph?
I did.
As part of my journalism training way back when I learned how to develop film and photographs.
We were told what happens if one doesn't use the fix after developing a print.
All that did was make me more curious as to what a print looks like without it and how long it lasts.
So one fine day in fall of '79 I decided to find out.
I put the photo through the developing chemicals and the stop bath and then took it out to the light.
This is the result:

UnFixed.bmp
I like the effect. I think I'll call it The Farm at the End of Time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Thought Or Two

The truth cuts deeper than a lie, but it cuts only once.

Tell the truth.

Today's truth is:
 Merry Christmas to all and the very best in 2015.

-The Management

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Today's Unsolicited Advice


Bite life hard.

Don't let go.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Gratitude Monday --Common Condiments Edition

Salt and pepper are almost everywhere we go. They finish a food. They set off flavour. We tend to use them automatically whether what we are about to eat requires them or not.
It isn't until they aren't where expected that I realized I am grateful for them.
We were in Cuba in 2010, a land of very plain, bland cooking, at least for the tourists.
 Salt would do wonders for the food, but it wasn't always available.
Pepper was even rarer.
When we did get a small bit of salt it was usually a victim of the humidity.
This rarity reminded me how these common condiments are taken for granted.
About 20 years ago my doctor found I had borderline high blood pressure. The wisdom of the day was to cut back on salt.
I tried an experiment wherein I didn't add any salt to the food on my plate. I did this for two weeks. It went well at first as I found foods like onion gave good flavour.
But one day I had cramps. As I enjoyed them I had the idea it was due to needing salt. I had nothing to go on leading me to this conclusion  beyond it was the only thing different in my life.
I ate some salt.
The pain disappeared
I went back to using salt.
The alleged borderline blood pressure left of its own accord.
As for pepper, it varies. I've gone without it from time to time based solely on what I felt like at the time.
Currently I use fresh ground.  It sets off a simple fried egg beautifully and among its flavouring uses it enhances ginger in gingerbread.
Salt and pepper.
So simple, so ubiquitous in most of North America, and so important, yet rarely considered. For them I am grateful.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Howling Success

It's good to try new things. If you restrict yourself to the things you know you're good at, then your life will be restricted, too.
Follow your interests. The  speak from the deepest part of you. We all need to be heard, even if the only person who hears us is our own self.
I have mentioned on this blog I have taken up drawing.
I bought some drawing books including one specific to dragons as I am fond of them.
It stared out in all innocence. I had a picture in my mind I wanted to draw believing that seeing it would help me write it.
I never did write that scene. I no longer needed it. But through practice and drawing and having fun, I got better at it.
Better is not great, but it is improved and that's important. I may never be great at drawing.
I don't care.
I wanted a picture of a wolf howling.
Here it is:


Monday, December 15, 2014

Gratitude Monday - -A Cancer, My Ass! Update

Last week I saw my cancer surgeon. The meeting lasted about two minutes because the news was good.
I had a blood test earlier to check for the increased presence of a particular antigen, CEA.
It wasn't there.
I am grateful.
This test will be done every three months.  It is my position similar results will be found.

Yesterday marked seven years since the day I was diagnosed with heart failure.  Last  year I finished weaning myself off the medication for it and now only take low dose ASA every day.
I am grateful for that, too.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday - A Swan A-Swimming

A swan off the coast of Saaremaa Island, Estonia.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- A Simple Ebb

Today I had planned to go see my cancer surgeon for a follow up visit.
It had been planned since the first follow up in September.  But  last week the appointment got shifted from today to tomorrow.
This means that my husband can't come with me. He'd taken today off to do so, but can't have tomorrow off.
That irks.
I have to go to the hospital rather than the doctor's office and that means I have to pay for parking.
That irks.
It is hardly serious, but when one looks for things to be annoyed about one finds them.
But I am still seeing the surgeon and it's only one day after I was supposed to.
Rather than stay irked I have decided to see it for what it is, a change in plans.
Life is fluid. It ebbs and flows showing areas in an ebb that are covered in a flow.
This is a minor inconvenience that may well turn out to be a blessing. Even if it doesn't so what?
I am grateful I am still going to see the surgeon, and I am grateful I can see this change for what it is, an ebb in the flow of life.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Photo -Finish Friday -- Near Winter Sunset



A benefit of the shorter days is we get to enjoy the sunsets earlier in the day.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- Another First

Today is the 26th anniversary of my first day  on the job as senior reporter for The Mountaineer.
I am grateful I was hired.
It meant I got to move here to Rocky.
Yesterday I celebrated the anniversary of the day I moved here. It was the best move I ever made.
This is for a variety of reasons, notably it is where I met and married the nice man who is my husband.
It is the chief reason I stayed.
I no longer work for the newspaper. Instead I spend my time at home writing books.
I am grateful for this, too.
The underlying reason I am able to do this is I was hired by Brian Mazza. He had taken over as editor of his family's newspaper a week or so earlier. He needed a reporter.
Be it fate, providence, or a simple case of right place, right time, I am grateful.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- Cake and Age

My husband baked me the best birthday cake ever.
It was a Cocoa Madeira cake, but we didn't have Madeira so he used  an Argentine Tannat, a red wine
The recipe called for milk, but he decided to use tannat for that, too.
Good call.
This cake is gluten free, and  so moist and so good it was all I could do not to finish it in one sitting. It's all I want to eat.




And it's all for me as chocolate gives Mike a headache.
I am very grateful for my husband and for his thoughtfulness in baking me such a wonderful cake.
Said birthday was Saturday.
Even though the documentation insists I am 56, I still feel:



I am grateful for that, too.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Photo-Finish -Friday --Fire Lane

FireWoodsDay 022
Along Hwy. 11 near the Banff Park Border.
The right side of the photo had a controlled burn, the left a random one.
 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- Still Here, Still Grateful

I have plenty of reasons to be grateful.

Today, instead of singling out  one in particular, I thought I'd go general.
In that vein I remind myself it's another day, I all but bounced out of bed to greet it, and anything--or better yet everything-- is possible.

How can I not be grateful?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday -- Welcome

BalticOly 051
Norway maple in a churchyard in Estonia.
This may be a repeat, but I felt the need to post it.
 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Gratitude Monday - Pizza Edition

I like pizza.
I am not alone.
I am gluten intolerant.
I'm not alone in that either.
It's not a difficult thing to manage as gluten free pizza crusts are reasonably easy to make and fairly tasty.
But sometimes they just don't do the trick.
I am grateful that I can handle a bit of gluten now and again.
To that end I raided our spelt flour stores the other day and made pizza dough.
It had to be sifted as it has more than its fair share of bran in it. It'll work that way, but I was in the mood for a soft, easy to manage dough.
While it was based on a recipe I made my own variations including playing fast and loose with the measurements of flour and olive oil.
I like what I did:
I really missed fluffy dough.
It was topped with emmentaler, a three year old cheddar ostensibly made from unpasteurized milk, and goat mozzarella, along with a pepperoni that had cheddar in it, elk smokies, mushroom, onion, green pepper, and tomato sauce.
Also, I threw chipotle pepper flakes in the dough.


It worked out and it was reasonably tasty.
For that I am grateful.



Friday, November 7, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- Sleeping In

This morning we got to sleep in and for it I am grateful.
Husband worked yesterday and has today off.  That means getting all manner of things done, but the most important thing is enjoying the time.
To do that, we slept in. It's a joy to do that on any given morning, but it is all the sweeter when it's a Monday.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

NightShade Express, The Movie

You've read the recipe, now see the movie.

I made this in 2008. It's my first, and only, movie. It was fun to do.
I hope you enjoy

NightShade Express:





Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Samhain Supper


I originally posted this is 2007 and decided to put it up again with only minor alterations.

All Hallows Even is Friday.
Surely you want to know what to cook?

I’ve observed Samhain, the Celtic New Year, in one form or another for more close to 20 years  including taking in a Loreena McKennitt concert in the mid-1990s.

My celebrations invovle food at the best of times, and Samhain is the best time ever for playing with food. Apples, wormwood (think tarragon), corn, and Dittany of Crete (Origanum Dictamnus, a variety of oregano) are associated with Samhain. Dittany of Crete is used in astral projection. I’ve grown it and I love the energy of it, but I have no experience astrally projecting with it.

This brings us to the Nightshades, an interesting and varied family with some really deadly members. It’s the killers which are associated with Samhain as well as Beltaine, observed in the spring.
Well, Nightshade is Nightshade to me. As long as it’s in the family I figure I can use it. Thanks to my husband’s botany textbooks I learned that eggplant (Solanum melongena), bell peppers (Capsicum annuum), potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), and tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum), are members of the Solanaceae or Nightshade family.

Tomatoes were thought “poisonous because many European members of their family (the Solanaceae) have bitter fruits containing toxic or hallucinogenic compounds.” (p.119. Economic Botany: Plants in our World by Beryl Brintnall Simpson and Molly Conner-Ogorzaly. Copyright 1986, McGraw-Hill Book Company.)
Lycopersicon esculentum, is Latin for “juicy wolf-peach,” the text book said. “The German common name ‘wolf-peach’ reflected the belief that the fruits could be used in cabals to evoke werewolves.” (IBID)

Reading on I learned that alkaloids from the potato family control muscles spasms. The solanaceous alkaloids are hyoscyamine (and l-hyoscyamine), atropine and scopolamine (or hyosine).
Technically, they’re known as tropane alkaloids and are commonly extracted from Atrope belladonna. (IBID p.371)

Anyway, with potato, tomato, bell pepper, and eggplant to work with I knew I could do something. My husband likes veggies, even eggplant, so I wanted something we’d both enjoy.
A few experiments later I had the Solanaceous Supper that’s become a Samhain tradition.

It’s easy to prepare and creates few dishes making for a fairly quick clean up. Here’s what to do:

Peel, slice and salt a firm, healthy medium-sized eggplant. I’ve read that they don’t need salting, but I feel better doing it. They’ve got lousy public relations already, finding a bitter one won’t help their cause.
Let it leach for at least a half-hour then dry with paper towels and cut into bite–sized pieces.
Take a large, healthy, firm green pepper. Remove stem and seeds and cut into small pieces. Imagine you’re making a Greek Salad and cut accordingly.
Use between four and six medium potatoes. This depends on the size of the spud and the number of people you’re feeding. Chop into small pieces. Peel or not as you see fit.
Use four to six medium-sized ripe tomatoes, chopped.
Use at least a half-cup of chopped onion. I use purple because it’s tasty and it looks good.
Mix together in a 9 x 13” casserole dish and coat with cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil and add good quality red wine vinegar.
Spice it with thyme, basil, and oregano along with your choice of parsley, chervil, and/or garlic. If you like, then sprinkle some cayenne on it, too. Capsicum frutenscens is also in the Solanaceae family. Use salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Ready to cook:


Cook at 350 degrees. It’ll take about 50-60 minutes. At the 40-50 minute mark remove from oven and sprinkle a cup of finely chopped Feta cheese on it. Return to oven for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.

Allow to sit for at least five minutes before serving.

The finished product:


When serving on Samhain always set an extra place at the table. On this night the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest and otherworldly guests should be made welcome.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- A Lesson You Can Eat

Nothing is a failure if you can learn from it. And, as far as I am concerned, you can learn from anything and anyone at any time.
I like to learn from food. Specifically, I learn what works and what doesn't when making something. Generally speaking, we can eat the result no matter what.

On Saturday I decided to make gluten free pita bread to go with the homemade beef vegetable soup I had simmering on the stove.
I had wondered from time to time what would happen if I cooked the whole lot together rather than breaking off bits of dough for individual pitas.
So I tried it.
I rolled it out onto a pizza pan and baked it.

This:


It was tasty enough, but it stuck to the bottom of the pan. It broke a bit during the flipping, but I pushed it back together as well as I could and popped it back in the oven.
It was cut into pieces later and served as flatbread rather than pita, but so what?
I got to conduct an experiment.
Yesterday I tried it again only this time I cut the dough into thirds. It flipped easier and seemed to be fine. I froze it and will know for a fact next time I want pita bread.

I am grateful for a great many things: forming the thought to experiment, enjoying the process, and getting to eat it afterward.
Learning is tasty.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- Leftover Pizza Edition

By that I mean pizza topped with leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

I'd been craving pizza and had the turkey so I figured, why not?
I threw together a gluten free flour mix made from ground rolled oats, sorghum, coconut, brown rice, tapioca and potato starches as well as ground hazelnuts and almonds.
Next I consulted a wide variety of recipes for use as a jumping off point for my own as I require some idea as to how much yeast, salt, oil, and sugar ought to be used.

I decided along with turkey it needed mushrooms and onion. Further, it needed avocado which I decided to add after it was out of the oven.

Dips are a fine adjunct to pizza. My favourite is chipotle. I had some coconut sour cream that needed using up so I consulted several recipes for chipotle sauce and threw together my own with chipotle flakes and chipotle tabasco in it.
It was a fine addition and I am grateful it, and the pizza, worked out.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Fabulous Friday-- Sleeping In

We normally get up at 5:30 a.m. weekdays as husband starts work at 7 a.m.  I am an early riser by nature though it is more compelling in summer as I tend to get up with the sun.

I prefer early mornings. I get more done and usually just plain have a better day.
But.
Bed is a comfortable and comforting place. It's not always easy to bounce out and get on with the day so a chance to laze a bit is always welcome.

Today was such a day. Husband has the day off and will work tomorrow instead.
Consequently, we slept in until almost 8 a.m.

You know what?
It was fabulous.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- Of Cake and Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family.
I am grateful for all of you.
Yes, even you.
Accept it.

We had the turkey yesterday. It was a small one, about eight pounds. That makes a nice size for Mike and me. I like that it's just the two of us. Holidays deserve their special memories as much as regular daily life does. It's good to have them alone.

I commonly bake pie for holidays, but didn't feel like it this year. I bake pie when the spirit moves me, not the calendar.
Instead we had cake. I'd baked my first ever coffee cake on Friday and in playing around with the recipe I added rum.
I discovered years ago all baking, mine anyway, is improved with a good glug of rum. I saw no reason this cake ought to be an exception.
I found a recipe for gluten free sour cream coffee cake. The sour cream I use is made out of coconut milk and is easy to throw together. Instead of the cupful called for I used about one-third and made up the rest with regular coconut milk.
It's still very rich,
The cup of butter, softened, called for became about two-thirds of a cup of coconut lard to which I added enough hot water to get things all warm and melty.
We have plenty of eggs courtesy my FIL so I used three rather than the two the recipe listed.
The gluten free flour mix I'd made really soaks up the moisture. That's my good reason for glugging in the rum. The real reason is noted above.




It turned out well and for that I am grateful.
Almost too well. It's hard to stop eating it. We smother it in thick coconut milk which makes it even tastier. If I sound like I am bragging it is because I am. I celebrate when things work out and am not shy about saying so.
I am grateful for that, too.



Friday, October 10, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday -- Natural Habitat

Cedar Grove Trail, B.C.



Portrait of the normally shy Husband caught in an unguarded moment in his natural habitat.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- This Tree

I love all trees, don't get me wrong.
But every so often one stands out from its brothers and sisters.
It gives off a special vibe. It can be a warm invitation, a feeling of fellowship, or security, or kindness.
It truth it can impart a feeling of almost anything and it's that feeling which draws me to it.
Yes, I hug trees. I do it with their permission and yes, they hug back.



We found this spruce in the forest during a walk around Fish Lake yesterday.
It has a magnificent and kindly feel to it.  I stepped away a few times, but it drew me back. I spent a few minutes with it and I am grateful for it, and to it.
I hope to again some day.




Thursday, September 25, 2014

If You Must Be Sick, Be Healthy or How To Scare Your Surgeon

That is, be as healthy as you can muster given your condition.
I'm not going to presume to offer a list of advice. I know nothing except what I have in my own experience, but it was my experience that making myself healthy as possible before my cancer surgery made a huge difference.

One of the first things I did was decide to try smoothies. A Facebook friend's posts made me aware of them and I'd been curious. Having cancer gave me great cause to give them a try.
I was diagnosed on Friday, June 13, and whirred my first smoothie on Sunday, June 15. I decided that carrot, celery, cucumber, garlic and tomato would form the smoothie's base. I based this on assorted Internet sites about cancer fighting foods as well as some personal anecdotes I found online.
I had a smoothie almost every day from June 15 to July 22. I missed one or two days while camping.
I added in sauerkraut, watermelon, other melons, strawberries, blueberries, lettuce, kale, and probably a few other fruits and veggies. Not all at once, but on various days I'd throw in some of these depending on my mood. The base stayed the same.
I felt really good.
I had plenty of energy.
We eat healthy in general here, but this really kicked things up a few levels.

As for exercise, I'd added squats in March. By the time I went into the hospital I was up to 16 each morning. I also do Tibetan Rites and had started bike riding in June. The first thing I noticed when I went for my first ride of the season was how much stronger my legs were from the squats. I used the higher gears I don't normally get to for a few weeks.

On Thursday, the day after my surgery, I was walking alone, often, and for a long way. I went outside a few times. If stretched out the distance from my room to outside and back it would be about two blocks.
I had really good balance, too, despite lack of food and plenty of painkillers.
I credit the squats.
Also, I was accidentally given solid food on Thursday. My surgeon told me that morning he was going to start me on a soft diet, cream soups, porridge, and the like.
Imagine my surprise when I pulled the lid off the noon offering to find roast beef, mashed potatoes, and french style green beans.
I hadn't had solid food since Tuesday. I ate every bite and told my roommate, "It's really good. I must be hungrier than I thought."
This added to my strength and my recovery.

The normal range for a hospital stay after colorectal cancer surgery is 4-10 days. I'd told my friend a few weeks earlier that I thought four days was a bit much and that I intended to be out in three.

On Friday morning the resident who'd assisted in the operation said something about releasing me that day or the next.
I went home Saturday.

When we met with my surgeon earlier this month he said he's been using my stay as an example when he answers patients' questions about the length of  hospital stays after this kind of surgery,
"The usual length is 4-10 days, but I had one patient who was ready to be released after two-and-a half days. She scared me."

How you live your life is your business. How you react to the diagnosis of a serious ailment is entirely your call.
But for me the squats and smoothies are what made my hospital stay as brief as it was, and if I were to offer any advice it is this: If you must be sick, be as healthy as you can be.




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Afternoon at the Feeder


Evening grosbeaks at our kitchen feeder.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy First Day Of Fall


The baby maples along our driveway are proud to show off their new fall colours. Husband collected the seeds from B.C. a few years ago. They are doing fairly well here.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- No Chemo

I do not require chemotherapy.
It's a good thing, but it is also academic as I'd already decided to refuse it.
That aside, the point is the operation got all the colorectal cancer. Tests showed it hadn't wandered off in search of organs or bones or anywhere else it could get a toe hold.
For this I am very grateful.

Cancer stages are determined by the TNM score: Tumour, Node, Metastasis.
This refers to the size or reach of the primary tumour, the amount it has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and if there are secondary tumours because it has spread to other places.
I scored zero for nodes, and zero for metastasis, but managed a three for tumour as it was nearly through my colon wall. That averages out to Stage Two.

I have to see my surgeon every three months for a year and have a blood test beforehand. It's to determine CEA levels, an increase of which suggest a return of the cancer.
In a year I get to have a colonscopy.
Doctors don't tempt the Universe by declaring a patient cancer free until five years of being cancer free has elapsed.
I, on the other hand, enjoy no such caution.
I am currently cancer free and I am grateful.



Friday, September 19, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday -- Pika Boo

PikaDay 025
This happy little lagomorph is a pika. 
We found it and another on Rock Glacier, Kananaskis, Ab. on our day trip last Sunday.
Pikas are very hard to see against the rocks as they blend right in.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gratitude Monday --16/24 Edition

Today is our wedding anniversary. We've been married for 16 years and together for 24 years.
I am grateful for every moment.
At the Pyramids.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fabulous Friday -- The Limburger Turnaround

We bought some limburger cheese the other day. It promised to be flavourful and stinky.
It wasn't really. To us, the reputation it enjoys was more PR than reality.
Oh, it has an unfortunate pong, but I had to get close to it to tell.
The flavour was mild. That's fine in its own right, but we wanted sharp.
It's okay alone, but it needs something to set it off.

We melted it over baked potatoes paired with homemade coconut and tahini sour cream.
It was okay, though pale when compared with blue cheese served this way.

Then we tried it on gluten-free pasta served with caramelized onions. Better, but not quite.

We had about one-third of the package remaining and wanted to give it a fair trial. It went on gluten-free pizza with portobello mushroom, onion, jalapeno pepperoni and some lovely goat mozzarella.

Limburger cheese on pizza is fabulous.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Gratitude Monday - Because This Is Close

I get to live here.

CrescentSept2014 004


Not there exactly, but close enough.
This is at Crescent Falls. It's about an hour's drive from my house.
How could I not be grateful?


Please click over to Flickr for a bigger, better view.

Thanks.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday --Dammed

FireWoodsDay 006Abraham Lake from Windy Point This is one of my favourite spots along The David Thompson Highway (Highway 11). The lake is man made. The North Saskatchewan River was dammed in the early 1970s.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- Big Out Day

I am so happy and grateful to have gotten out for a long drive on the weekend.
This is for a variety of reasons, chief among them I was able to sit for long periods of time.
It's been difficult since the operation as I can feel my tailbone is not quite right. Certain sitting positions remain out of the question, but at least I can sit.

We went west out to the Icefields Parkway and then south to about five minutes shy of the Trans-Canada Highway and perhaps 10 minutes from Lake Louise. Much as I enjoy Lake Louise I won't go on a long weekend unless I have to.
 I am grateful my strength and stamina are returning and that I did all the outbound driving. It was about three hours behind the wheel, but we stopped here and there.

I got to see the ravages of a fire near that is still burning the Banff Park Boundary with Clearwater County (Rocky Mountain House is in said county)  the new growth in a controlled burn across the road from the aforementioned fire,  I got to see the mountains up close again, and I got to get out of the house and extend my world.
I am grateful for all of it.



FireWoodsDay 016
New growth in the controlled burn. Notice the fireweed.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fabulous Friday -- Lesson Learned

Further to the fake sour cream post:

Some experiments fail and that's okay.
It wasn't a proper failure as Thursday's experiment with extra psyllium fibre in the mix tasted okay, if a bit mild.
I decided to use it as gravy. I marinated steaks in wine and after cooking them as well as mushrooms I poured the marinade in the pan.
After several seconds of stirring I put in the 5-6 ounces of fake sour cream.
Psyllium fibre is a great gluten substitute. It holds things together beautifully when cooked.
The consistency of the gravy was disgusting.
The whole mess of it held together well enough it could be picked up with a fork. It was edible as long as one didn't look at it.
Even my husband noted it looked gross and this is a man currently working at the local landfill.

We ate it and we're here to tell the tale and that's good.
Bu best of all I had a failure of sorts.
Failing is a great way to learn and learning is fabulous.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Fake Sour Cream Mission

My current food mission is to create a tasty, easy, viable fake sour cream.
I believe I am on to something.
In the past I've used tofu to which I've added vinegar and lemon and canola oil. It worked well. I was very happy with it and even happier when I decided to add a wee bit of salt and sugar to moderate the flavour and happier yet when I discovered a bit of tahini gave it great body.

I've cycled away from tofu. I've nothing against it; I've simply moved on.
What I moved to was coconut milk. It makes a great substitute for milk and cream depending on the thickness of the product.  Though available already made up in a carton in the milk section of stores I prefer to buy canned and make it the way I like without sugar or stabilizers or what-have-you.
My favourite brand has added guar gum. This is not a crime.
I whir it together with about one-third of a can of water and get about three cups of coconut milk. It's great on fruit, baked goods, and my morning oatmeal.

I checked out a few recipes for making it into sour cream. Most say to drain off the water and then mix in vinegar and/or lemon and/or salt and let it sit.
This makes a reasonable facsimile of sour cream. Because I'd already added water to mine it was runnier that I'd like, but it still did the job.
Yesterday I played around a bit with the recipe. I mixed up some tahini for body for it and then added it to about a half a cup of coconut milk.
It was still fairly runny so I mixed it psyllium fibre. All together it may have been half a teaspoon of it.
It helped a bit, but I think I should have added it in with the tahini. I'll try that next time.
Guar gum may be a better addition, but for now I am going to play with the psyllium fibre. I am convinced it will work.
As to the taste, it is pretty good. I have to play around more to get the souring correct for my tastes, but a) experimenting is fun and b) you get to hide the failures by eating them.

The batch I made yesterday was for a Scandinavian style cucumber salad:

It's tasty and it worked.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In The Moment

I devoted some time to reading outdoors today. I sat in a camping chair in the sun and when it got too hot I moved to the shade by the deck and read more.
My chair sat close to my garden and close to the garage.
This gave me a fine view of the young house sparrows helping themselves to the sunflowers in the garage feeder.
They are noisy and sloppy eaters, much like me.  For every seed in a beak at least nine more flew off the side.
They ate a bit and flew off to a nearby tree or the birdbath or to the cable that runs from the house across my garden and yard to the alley. They sat on the wire and shat on the lawn and flew off to attack the seeds once again.
They are happy in the way that a bird is happy on a sunny day when there's food and water and shade about. They are living in the moment and it is a grand lesson for all.
We have many birds come to our yard. Goldfinches are regulars, chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, and assortment of sparrows and other members of the finch family including an orange variant house finch.
Few siskins have been about this year. While I wonder about it I am a bit relieved as the 40 lb. bag of black oil sunflower seeds  lasts longer without the flying stomachs to feed.
That may change now that the young house sparrows have found the feeders.
It is relaxing to sit in the sun as they eat and fly and chirp. It is a good noise. It is a wholesome, natural, and soothing noise and it convinced me to put down my book and be in the moment with them.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- Lentilfest

It's been a veritable lentilfest around here since my operation.
My body tells me it needs lighter fare than meat.  Fish and chicken have their places, no question, but lately it's been lentils.
They make a great meat substitute and for that I am grateful.
I've made burgers with them and a pan loaf thingy that defies description for several reasons ( it was tasty, thought, give it that) and last night we had lentil balls.
They're like meatballs. To the cooked lentils I added the pulp from the morning smoothie: carrot, watermelon, cherry, garlic, lettuce, and sauerkraut.
I also added slow fried onions and mushrooms as they are the key to making lentils taste similar to red meat.
Chop onion, slice mushrooms, and let them fry slow and low for at least a half-hour, covered.
By low I mean once they start cooking turn the heat down to barely noticeable. I tossed in some fresh garlic toward the end.
I found a recipe for a tahini sauce made with garlic, lemon. cumin, and cilantro which I have mostly followed. It sets off the lentils beautifully.
I am grateful I have lentils, that I know what to do with them, and that they serve my current need to eat lighter than usual.
I am further grateful my husband loves lentils and would eat them every day if he could.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fabulous Friday --Tub Time

I took my first bath in over a month last night.
Lest you get too horrified, let me explain. After surgery I was told to shower, not bathe, for an extended period of time. Most medical personnel suggested six weeks, but I believe they were only being careful.
The point was the incisions had to heal before I could soak myself.
Showers are fine. In fact, I quite like them. But I'd gotten used to bathing before bed. It was relaxing, it put me in the mindset for sleep, and best of all it kept me warm.
Showers did none of that,
My feet stayed cold. In fact, despite the hot weather I often pulled on a pair of thick socks at night. I took them off after a few hours, but the mere fact I had to wear them when it was 80F in the house was disturbing.
A few nights I had to wear winter weight pyjamas.
Yikes.
But that all changed last night.
All four incisions were long since healed and well on their way to making some magnificent scarring.
That's not sarcasm, my scars are my life map. They remind me where I've been, what I've done, and that I am here to tell the tale.
I wear them with pride.
Yesterday marked a lunar cycle and a day since my cancer surgery. I decided bathing was safe so I drew a deep, hot bath last night and soaked a while.
It was relaxing. The weather was cool enough yesterday that it was 68F in the house. I had to have the heat on. The bath kept me warm and despite the cool house I didn't need to wear socks to bed.
In short, I had a bath last night and it was fabulous.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Gratitude Monday-- Embrace Your Mess Edition

Embrace your mess.
This is my philosophy and has been for many, many years. I gave voice to it around 2006 or so, but I believed it and used it for several years before then.

It calls for a change in attitude and being able to change one's attitude is something for which to be grateful. It speaks of a fluidity of mind, and if one's mind cannot flow, then one gets stuck.
Stuck does not serve anyone especially the stuckee.

The mess can refer to anything, but in my case it refers to the things society expects of a person that I am simply unwilling and/or unable to do. In most cases I plain don't want to.
It also has a literal interpretation for me.
I am a messy eater. It's not too bad in the great scope of the world, but it's noticeable. I have tried every way to not spill, to ensure it all gets to my mouth, and to ensure it stays on the plate until then.

It ain't a-gonna happen.

I remember my mother commenting from time to time, "You're wearing your dinner."

Yup. I am.

It used to embarrass me. Not to the point where I wouldn't eat in public, but I was acutely aware that I was making a mess.  Further, I like eating messy foods so my choices often enhanced the experience.

Why fight it?
This came to me one day and for the life of me I couldn't come up with a good reason to continue battling and repeatedly losing.
Instead, I chose to embrace it.
I am a messy eater.
I can't say as I am proud of it, but I am in no way embarrassed about it.
It's me. I do my best and that's as good as it is going to get.

A few years back as I ate a bakery confection a new acquaintance pointed out I had icing around my mouth.
I looked him straight in the eye while brandishing the remainder of the confection and said, "Yeah, and it's just going to get worse."

That's what I mean when I say embrace it. I am grateful I have gotten to this point.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Fabulous Friday


Why Fabulous Friday?
Because the world is filled with fabulous things.
It may be because they are wonderful.
It could be because they are extraordinary.
Or it may simply be because they are mythical.
It doesn't matter. What's important is they are fabulous and deserve to be celebrated.
This is the logical extension of gratitude.
Gratitude is great. I've been posting about gratitude on Mondays for several years now.  What happens when you do that is what has been ordinary becomes extraordinary.
You perceive the magic in the mundane.

For example:
ThePeasof2014 .2
Plant a few seeds and you get fresh, tasty peas.

As for Photo– Finish Friday I am nowhere near done with it.  It will appear from time to time as the mood strikes me.
But right now, the world is a fabulous place –for many values of that word—and I will celebrate it.
Oh, and the fresh garden peas?
They taste fabulous.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Gratitude Monday - Blueberries

Blueberries.

I am grateful for blueberries.
They are tasty and healthy and make a great snack. A great and very hard to stop eating snack.

We bought some yesterday that were grown in B.C. They are big and juicy and taste close enough to blueberries to satisfy.

What do I mean?

I grew up on a farm carved out of the bush. If I wanted blueberries I went to the back yard.
I also could find strawberries and raspberries and saskatoons in their turn.
In short, I know what berries taste like and the commercial ones are sad imitations most of the time. But these BC blueberries are plump and delicious and for it I am grateful.



Friday, August 8, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday -- Framed

CycladesNikon 076 Through an abandoned building on Paros.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Peasant Surprise

I've been wanting to try a this recipe  from Alexandra Stafford for gluten free peasant bread for a few weeks now, but hot weather and surgery got in my way.
No more of that nonsense.
I've been craving bread for about a week. I made a few loaves in my bread machine and a free hand French loaf.
Playing around with gluten free flours is fun, if frustrating.
Most gluten free loaves rely heavily on rice flour and potato, corn, and/or tapioca starch. The combo works great, but they're all simple carbs . One may as well eat sugar.
I've added in various combinations of bean flours, sorghum, even coconut. The latter is very absorbent.
If I toss in psyllium fibre to help things stick together the dough can be too dry.
A few of last weeks loaves are now serving as croutons and are very good in my version of a tomato-bread salad.
Today I came very close to following the recipe as given. I used sorghum, rice, and coconut flours in it and a whole egg rather than the two egg whites called for. 
I do this simply to be contrary.
I got things going fairly early the baking would be done before the heat of the day.
It worked well.
I will the recipe around and work out how much more liquid it needs, but for right now it is just fine.
GF Peasant Bread 007

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Gratitude Monday– Sketches of Thanks

Another Monday rolls around and I've plenty for which to be grateful.
I'm recovering well from surgery. I feel good which helps cope with the pain as it makes it easier to ignore. I refuse to take pain killers on the grounds that they'll get in the way of me judging how well I am healing and they'll muddle my mind.
I am very grateful that I weaned myself away from all but the Tylenol 500s while in the hospital. I probably could have gotten away with refusing them, too, but I decided, why suffer?
They left me clear-headed enough to think and to create. The first morning after refusing Toradol I came up with a character and wrote a brief sketch of her.
Because I had assumed I'd be in pain and helping myself to the IV morphine, I brought neither pen nor paper.  But I had a pencil because a nurse brought me one. The hospital allows patients to circle menu choices for the next day and I had done so earlier.
The paper I used was from the print-out that came with the breakfast which ensures the proper patient gets the proper food.
It wasn't much, but it was all I needed. 
I wrote small.
So small that when I got home later I had to dig out a magnifying glass to read it.
I am so grateful I
a) had one
b) that what I wrote made sense.
I'd been kicking around an idea for a few weeks. This character has helped clarify the story and given me a start. 
She's also given me reason for a guest appearance from another character, this one in the book I have under contract with Holland House Books/Lost World Press.
And I am very grateful for both the guest appearance and the contract.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday -- Waiting

CycladesNikon 079

A Greek bus driver waits for his passengers at a dock at Parikia (Paros).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gratitude Monday - Don't Hesitate

I am  grateful for a great many things including, but not restricted to, being out of the hospital, feeling pretty good, and having discomfort as opposed to pain.
As colon cancer surgery goes mine went very well.

I have a few follow up things to do with one being injecting myself with an anti-coagulant for 25 days. This began yesterday.

It's a simple subcutaneous shot in the abdomen. The syringe is loaded and ready to go. I get a new one each day.
A nurse coached me on what to do Saturday morning as she gave me the shot. It's easy enough.
Grasp some skin,  plunge straight in.

I am grateful she showed me what to do right from wiping down the target area with alcohol to proper positioning and to pulling it straight out.
She told me to not hesitate.
She's right.
If I think about it, then it will take longer. It has to be done so I do it. I could have Home Care come in each day and give me the injection, but it seems like a total waste of resources.

I am grateful for the nurse's "quick inservice" as she put it, and I am grateful that my practical mind takes over and gets it done.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Tuesday Tale - Queen of Cats

Gentlereaders:

I'll be away from social media for a few days for bowel cancer surgery.
As such I am putting up a Tuesday Tale for your enjoyment while I'm away.

The following story is a retelling of the British folk tale "The King of the Cats."
I watched the one-eyed cat in my story scrounge and fight for food at the seaside restaurants along a strip on the Greek island of Paros.
The cat insisted I tell her story.


Queen of Cats

The three friends stared at the empty chair buffeted by the strong blast of wind from the sea.
It was a welcome wind, a respite from the noonday heat of the Mediterranean sun, and it sent the savory scent of grilled lamb over them.
"Damn, I wish she'd get here. I'm hungry, and we're nearly out of wine."
"She'll be along any minute. She just needed some time alone. You ever know her to miss a meal?"
All three laughed a light tinkling laugh. The wind, dwindled now to a light breeze, carried the laughter around the women, over the tables, and around the chairs. It danced past the ears of patrons along the waterfront and jumped and rolled down the street.
It tickled the ears of a thin, ragged white cat who batted it away with a paw and stretched herself in a puddle of warm sunlight. She yawned and sharpened her claws and then curled her head toward her tail and set about her regular midday bath.
She was a creature of the streets and alleys and of back yards under the moonlight. She depended on the soft hearts of tourists, the cold kindness of garbage cans, and the trust of small creatures for her sustenance.
Rough as her life was, a cat is a cat and as such must be presentable. Trusting this to be an absolute of her kind she licked and bit and worried and chased away the visitors who hid in her coat, sending them to the wind and the sun or to meet an end between her terrible teeth.
Her ears pricked up at the click of glasses and cutlery. The tones of the women's voices told her the friend had arrived.
She ran her tongue over a paw for one last check of the spot behind an ear where the fur went missing after a fight over a shrimp head and trotted over to the table, careful to seem interested yet not eager. She raised her tail and darted between their feet as the late arrival pulled out her chair.
"About time you got here. Did you get distracted at a shoe store?"
Wide–eyed and breathless the woman collapsed into the chair. "Who the hell is Tewlie Tillsbury?"
Blank faces met her question.
The cat raised her ears.
"God, I need some wine. You won't believe what I saw. I needed some exercise, right, so I took the back alleys along the edge of the village. And — I swear this is what happened -- I saw nine cats, all of them white, up on their hind legs carrying a casket."
The women stayed quiet. The white cat crept to a table leg and shrugged behind it.
The movement caught the woman's attention. She looked down "All white, just like this one. Oh, you poor thing. You've only got one eye."
The cat mewled and sat up straighter, cocking her head a fraction of a bit around the table leg.
"Anyway, the lead cat looked right at me and meowed."
The cat at their feet meowed.
"Yes. Just like that. And then it said, 'Tell Tillie Tewsbury that Tewlie Tillsbury's dead.'"
"Oh, come on."
"You always did have a good imagination. Cats and caskets. Please."
The one-eyed cat moved her head farther around and slid a paw toward the speaker, careful to keep her body braced against the table leg.
"I'm telling you."
"So," said one women fighting to keep the smile off her face, "this cat, it spoke in perfect English?"
"Close enough."
"And this message, it was just for you?
"I guess so. That's why I asked you when I sat down if you knew Tillie Tewsbury."
"No. And you're making this up."
"I'm not. It meowed again and said the same thing."
Below them the white cat meowed again, only louder.
The woman bent down. "Yes, kitty, just like that."
And the one-eyed cat's one eye grew wider. Her tail shot straight up. Her fur bristled.
"Anyway, it told me to deliver this message about Tewlie Tillsbury being dead. All I can do is repeat it."
The cat turned her eye to the woman. She raised herself up and hunched her back high as she was able. In a voice melodious  and strong the cat said, "Tewlie's gone? Our Tewlie's gone? Then I am Queen of Cats."
And she dashed between table legs and down the street and was never seen by human eyes again.
The woman sighed. "I guess I delivered the message. Is there any more wine?"

Monday, July 21, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- Weather Changes

I've always enjoyed the changes in weather.
 Each difference makes me appreciate the other. Cold makes me appreciate warm, wet makes me appreciate dry, still makes me appreciate the wind.

We've had some desperately hot weather recently.  Sleeping was difficult and cooking was the last thing on my mind. The heat coupled with the smoke from near and distance forest fires made me want to do very little.

It's cooled off and we've had  rain. We sleep better, eat better, and feel like doing more.
I am grateful for this and for the changes in the weather.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday -- West Country Easter

EasterWestCountry 037 The Rocky Mountains at Easter. That's my husband in the foreground taking a picture. His presence adds some needed perspective.

Please click over to get the bigger picture.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Way I See It

We spend our lives cramming our souls into our limited, frail bodies.
Better we should anchor our bodies inside our vast, boundless souls.





ETA: The above quote is mine.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Yeah. So?

I have to remind myself I have cancer. Not to dwell on it, but simply to recall the fact of it.
It seems remote to me, a thing not part of my life.
For one, I suppose, I haven't had it very long. New things take time.
For two, I neither look nor feel sick. 
I have no idea how I am supposed to feel so whatever I feel is right for me.
As for looking sick, I don't and am glad of it. In fact I look and feel better than I have in years.
Whether it's real or reversed dysmorphia is immaterial. I think I look good, ergo I do look good.
It does, however, colour my perception. 
When I think of cancer patients I picture someone, pale, sickly, usually gaunt, and often bald.
This is silly. There are as many looks to cancer as there are people who have it.
But right now when I hear about the disease I think of those who have it or have had it.
Other people.

Then this happens:

Voice In My Head (VIMH) : "Hey, you have cancer."
Other Voice In My Head (OVIMH): "Yeah. So?"
VIMH: "Uhhh, hmm. Never mind."
OVIMH: "Okay."




Monday, July 14, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- That New Bike Smell

I got a new mountain bicycle on the weekend.
It's a Rocky Mountain Fusion with 29" wheels and 27 speeds.
Gears change with a click rather than the turn of a wrist like I've been used to. It's easier, but I have to adjust to which lever is up and which is down.
The seat goes back and forth as well as up and down and the handlebars can be adjusted to turn away or turn toward me.
The finer adjustments will take time and all of this is quite new to me.  The bike is several steps up to what I'm used to, but it is fun to find out the proper setting.
Right now I have a new bike and I am grateful.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday -- A Boreal Sunset

The sun sets late in Alberta and the farther north one goes the longer lingers the twilight.
This photo was taken at Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta, about 15 minutes after the sun had set, about 10:30 p.m.
It doesn't really get dark up there at night. The closest it comes is a deep twilight around 3 a.m.


Please click to enlarge

MartenSlavePark 005

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

For What It Is

I've been doing a great deal of cancer research. I've looked at the types of surgery available for colon cancer, the stages of the disease, chemotherapy and radiation treatments and their side effects, alternative treatments be they good, bad, or odd, and have saturated my mind.
I've learned quite a bit. I've applied some of the research to my daily fruit and vegetable smoothie.
Whatever else it does, raw fruits and vegetables are good for a body.
One simply cannot go wrong ingesting, good, healthy food.

But there comes a point where one must stop the research. Certainly one cannot have too much information.
Information is power.
Power guides one to direct one's energy.

I am at that point. I have decided to stop gathering knowledge and accept this disease for what it  is: a chance to change.
In the mind-body connection the area affected refers to issues such as control. It's not having any, or giving up one's control to others.
In my life I have dampened my energies to get along. I have forced myself to be less than I am.
This is wrong
This is stupid.
This stops now.

Cancer has brought me this lesson. I aim to learn it, learn it well, and practice it every single day for the rest of my long, healthy life.

I expect I'll slip back into the old program on occasion. It takes time to learn to live a different way.
But it can and will be learned.
I anticipate the loss of some friends and acquaintances.  if they don't like it, then they had no business being in my life in the first place.
I anticipate new, exciting friends and acquaintances who are a better fit for me.

It is an exciting time in my life and I embrace it.





Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ear Trees Exist!

Ear Tree again-horz


I am fascinated by ear trees. I love to draw them.
I was thrilled beyond measure to find one in its natural habitat.
I found this magnificent specimen at the entrance to Marten River Campground, Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park.
Oh, I certainly had faith in their existence, but I had never seen one until now.
Ear trees are the best.


The Ear Tree in its natural habitat.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Gratitude Monday --The Shape of Things to Come

Today I see the surgeon about the tumour in my colon.
I'll find out where it is, what it is doing, and how and when we get rid of it.
In short I will know what is happening now and learn the shape of things to come.
Knowing is best, and for this knowledge I am grateful.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Birthday, Canada!

I've posted this every Canada Day for a few years now. I love it and I believe it still holds true in many quarters, despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper's best efforts to ruin it in his own image. I am lucky as all get out to live here. Happy Birthday, Canada! Cake and bacon all around!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Gratitude Monday–Bursting With Thanks Edition

 The cold water valve in our RPOD burst.  After reviewing a few choices including using it without running water or giving it away my husband decided to fix it himself.
He insisted far and wide he was no good with plumbing and noted the area he had to work in was tight. After plenty of consideration and muttering he decided to replace several pipes and parts.
It took a few hours and involved buying rings and valves and pipes and a crimper, but he did it. The replacement parts are of superior quality to the original cheap plastic. We tested it. No leaks, and the pump cut in and out as it should.
His determination saved us hundreds of dollars, incalculable frustration, and the use of  the RPOD next weekend as opposed to next month if we'd taken it away to be fixed.
I am grateful my husband has fixed our  RPOD.

MikeThmpsnCrk 002

Friday, June 27, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday -- Along The Parkway

This scene is in Banff National Park. It's the stopping point for the Weeping Wall, but this is a fine scene in its own right.

Please click to get the big picture.

  WolfJuneNikon 030

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gratitude Monday–It's Not About The Fish


Yesterday was a brilliant blue day topped with warm sunshine.
To respect and honour this first full day of summer we went fishing.
The Elk Creek Pond is a rehabilitated gravel pit along the Forestry Trunk Road at Elk Flats, west of Rocky.It's in the first range of mountains and it is a spectacular, peaceful spot.

Clouds moved in on the way, but the sun still shone. Fish jumped in the pond, taunting and teasing us as we cast our lines and tried different lures.
A few other people, mostly families with children, showed up soon after we arrived. They enjoyed the moment as only families with children can.

We didn't catch anything.
We never do.
And fishing really isn't about the fish.

It's about a peaceful spot in the mountain dressed in the deep green of summer. It's a peaceful pond stocked with trout who jump for insects, or joy, or for any reason a fish can think of to rise out of the water and slap back in on a warm, sunny day.
It is time together making yet another memory, and for all this and more I am grateful.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday -- Sunset on the Caldera

CycladesNikon 091
Santorini, Greece, is famous for its sunsets.
Please click to enlarge.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I Choose Fight

Diseases and disorders have metaphysical components.  Each has spiritual reasons for manifesting, and addressing the reasons goes a long way toward healing.
Yes, or course, working on the physical level alone can work, but you'll only get something similar later on until you deal with all the underlying causes.

Among the reasons in my case is conflict and its avoidance.
I'm hardly alone. Very few people like conflict of any sort. I have a few in my life who seem to like it. Those people are bad for me so I avoid them.

My cancer is in the first or root chakra. The red one. The one that makes us choose fight or flight.
I usually go with flight. I would rather find away to avoid fighting. Over the years I've gotten good at it and good at burying conflict, too.
I like to remain calm, detached even. This is okay, because matters can still get dealt with. But those other times when I just avoid standing up, speaking my mind, those are the ones that spiritually grew me the tumor.

I saw a very talented medium the other day and learned many, many things.
As consequence of that consultation, the days of walking away are over.
Instead of turning my back I will nurture my backbone.

I choose fight.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A View Down the Parkway

WolfJuneNikon 037 Looking southward along the Columbia Icefields Parkway from near the top of Sunwapta Pass.

Please click to get the bigger picture.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Gratitude Monday–Cancer, My Ass!

The above is my attitude and my battle cry.
Last Friday I learned I have bowel cancer, and I am grateful.
Why?
Because it all went very quickly and knowing is better than waiting.

I made a medical appointment on Monday for June 27, the earliest available.  I was told at the time to call at 08:30 any morning to ask about cancellations.  On Tuesday morning I went for a bike ride and thought about it. For days I had been seeing in my mind a  particular doctor examining me. It was not the one  I was to see on the 27th. When I called Tuesday the doctor who had a cancellation that morning was the one in my mind.

He sent me to the lab for assorted tests and set about setting up a colonoscopy appointment for me. He called the lab while I was still there, directing someone to direct me to a woman at the  hospital who provides info to day surgery patients.
She wasn't in, but called me a few hours  later to tell me the procedure was set for Red Deer Hospital on Friday.

I learned right away about the mass and that it appears to be curable by surgery alone.  The doctor took a sample for biopsy and is setting both CT scan and surgery for me.  If is hasn't moved past its current location everything will be sorted out on the table.
If not, I'll deal with it.

I've lost a bit of the extra weight I was carrying due to being on heart meds. I have a good appetite and plenty of energy. Ironically, I look and feel better than I have in years.
I have started in on fruit and veggie smoothies so my body will be healthier and be able to repair itself.  I've done some research and will do more, and I refuse to worry until I have something worth worrying about.
For all of this, I am grateful.

Cancer, my ass!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday-- A Trip to the Rockies

WolfJuneNikon 006 Along the David Thompson Highway (Hwy 11) west of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.

Please click to enlarge.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Trip to the Falls



We stopped at Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park on Saturday.
It's a lovely spot and a definite attraction, but for too many people the real attraction is to hop the fence and get as close to the falls as they can.

I hope you enjoy the video.





Monday, June 9, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- Wild Beauty Edition

I saw a wolf.
I love wolves, always have, but I rarely get to see them.
Husband and I left early Saturday morning for a day trip to Jasper to see who we could see in the wild.
We saw this wolf on Highway 11 about 10 or so minutes east of the Banff National Park gate.
We watched for a few minutes and were able to get some photos. I also shot some video.
I think they are beautiful, and misunderstood.
Wolves they mind their own business and do not attack humans as a rule.

Wolfie2



This was a grand treat for me and I am grateful.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday --Moonrise over Syros

CycladesNikon 029 The near-full moon shines down on Syros, Greece.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Stakes on a Plane

The world of  public marriage proposals has always bothered me. Why do you need to make such a big deal of it? Are you scared she'll say no?
I can only guess this must be the real, underlying reason for them.
Oh, we can get all dewy-eyed and romantic about it.  He wants to shout his love from the rooftops, share it with the world, we tell ourselves.
Crap.
I call it ambush and I want it to stop.
I was ear witness to one at ComicCon in Calgary a few years ago. This was the big ComicCon, the event that reunited the cast of Star Trek: TNG.
He popped the question during the intermission between the buildup to the reunion and the actual taking of the stage of the actors.
She said yes. The crowd cheered.
That particular proposal was fine. It was a grand nerd on nerd moment and I am happy for them.
But I and others were trapped with nowhere to turn on a recent flight to London.
Our eager suitor was so insecure –I believe—that he had the First Officer announce from the flight deck that a gentleman has a special request of a lady.
Suddenly a plane full of strangers are right there in the big moment with you. You are about to be asked to marry and the whole plane is waiting for you to say yes.
What choice do you  have?
Saying no, even if you want to, will cause huge embarrassment to you, to  him, and to everyone who had to be along for the ride.
The suitor knows what's at stake: his happiness. He wants her and in his mind the best move is to go public.
Maybe he can't afford some of the big deals we see on YouTube or even the evening news, but he can have hundreds of people rooting for him.
And he did.
We were near London, but still over the water, I think, when he made his request. He was a few rows ahead of me. I had a glance at the ring.
She said yes.   We know because the First Officer announced it later on.
I choose to believe she wanted to, but I can't help but think she felt blindsided. She had nowhere to go and if she'd said  no there'd be pitying looks, or dark mutterings, or what have you from her fellow passengers.
Maybe I am wrong about public proposals. Maybe it isn't monumental insecurity that propels a man (or a woman) but rather the sweeping dizzying overwhelming all-encompassing love that makes the asker want everyone to know it, be a part of it. He or she may just have so much love it must be shared.
But I don't think so.
Whatever their reason, I hope they put as much effort into the marriage as they do to the proposal.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Athens, Olympics, and Stadia, Oh, My!

The news has been full of Olympic news lately, mostly with countries bowing out of bidding.
They have good, solid reasons for it.  It's an economic disaster for them. What a city needs to host this event bears limited relationship to what a city needs.
Take Athens, for instance.
Facilities built for the Olympics are unused and crumbling.
Interestingly, this stadium in Athens built thousands of years ago looks like it's ready to use.
2014-05-12 001 005
Thousands of years old and still in better shape than the stadia
constructed for the 2004 Olympics.

They money sunk into these sites could have gone to way better use like proper infrastructure, cleaning the city up, and getting a handle on its horrible stench.
I'm sorry, Athens. I love you, but you stink.
The Plaka (Old Town) I knew from the early 1980s is virtually unrecognizable today.  It is restaurant after restaurant after tourist trap.
I eventually found my way from Syntagma Square to some of my old haunts, but it was not the same. Not that it should be, of course, but it was crowded, filthy, and overbuilt.
I presume it was done in preparation for the influx of people for the games.  One cannot blame anyone for doing this.  Opportunity came and they jumped on it. Who wouldn't?
That said, the facilities built for then are a blight on the cityscape now. Athens has no need for them and there's no money for their upkeep. Unlike the ancient stadia,  these will likely never be historic sites.
They may serve as historical lessons,  but not the kind of site one dreams of seeing.
Meanwhile, (animal lovers please take a breath) the stray pussycat population of today in Athens is barely a whisper of what it was in the 1980s.
2014-05-12 001 123
Master and Commander
They were everywhere underfoot at the outside eateries back then. Today, they still come by, but I only saw two or three at a time. Thirty plus years ago one would spot a dozen without even trying.
On the good side, when the government tried to get rid of the stray dogs prior to the Olympics the people got upset. They banded together, adopted the dogs, and put collars on them. These dogs still wander, but they are fed and loved and very friendly.

CycladesNikon 260
Athens has gone to the dogs.