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Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be more fortunate than others? I’m talking here about more than just financially. That does play a role of course, but I am thinking about this in a more wholistic way I guess.

I am pondering this today as I enjoy an afternoon off from work. This is a milestone year for me, having been with the company I work for, for 10 years. Today all of us who have reached significant milestones were treated to a delicious meal and then sent home to enjoy the rest of the day. It gave me an opportunity to go for a long walk with my dog. It was mild, light snow was falling, and it was incredibly peaceful. How lucky I am to work for a company that granted me this serenity at a time when my life in general is pretty busy.

But as I look back, I have always been fortunate, even as far back as my birth. It appeared I needed a blood transfusion and was rushed to hospital in the big city. Though an error, the doctors forgot to get a sample of my father’s blood. This could have proved fatal. But somehow things turned around and I was fine after all.image

Since that day, fortune has followed me. I grew up on a farm where I learned the value of hard work and an appreciation for the gifts nature has given us. I’ve had a varied and interesting career. I’ve had amazing people in my life all the way along who have challenged and taught me. And I’ve had the chance to pursue my dreams.

What I don’t know is why life has been so easy for me. Yes of course I’ve had struggles, but they seem minor compared to the hardships and pain of so many others. In a tiny corner of my mind there is a fear that fate is just biding its time, waiting to hit me with the zowie. Who knows. All I know is that I’m feeling pretty darned grateful right now. xxx.

There was so much I had planned to write about today…about what I was going to do with the additional $10 that I discovered I had, about how I was going to prepare the wonderful wild meat that I was given last night, and about the fact that most of us do get by through the kindness of others, and we should remember to reciprocate whenever we can. But life has a way of throwing a curve ball from time to time, and our family was recently thrown a rather big one.

Without betraying confidences, I’ll just say that a couple of my family members really need me right now. It doesn’t make sense for me to be devoting a fair chunk of my day to a rather artificial social science project when there is a very real situation that needs to be attended to.

Do I think I could have finished this 30 day challenge had this not come up? Yes I do. I can be pretty stubborn, and I was determined to see this through. But I do think I’ve made the right decision. And even though I’ve only completed one-third of the month, I certainly feel I’ve had my eyes opened about certain things. I will never take for granted the food I am lucky enough to have, and I will do my best to never waste it.

I thank all of you who have followed me for the last ten days and who have offered suggestions and support. I hope I haven’t disappointed you by not finishing the challenge.

Oh, and as for what’s for dinner tonight? Those amazing moose sausage that Dave gave me last night!

Sorry for the delayed post. It’s been rather crazy around our house of late and I simply didn’t have an opportunity to post this yesterday.

Here is the day’s summary:

Breakfast: 1 piece of whole wheat toast with peanut putter. Cost: 12 cents

Lunch: chicken rice soup. Cost: $2.71

And NOW….DINNER!!!

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My friends Jocelyn and Dave served up what, as you can see, was a wonderful feast: a moose stew with a biscuit topping, mashed potatoes, peas, carrots, and three different salads (including one that Joe brought with us when we came to dinner). There were spring rolls as an appetizer, and for dessert, apple pie and ice-cream. It really did seem like Christmas had arrived early. Everything was so delicious! Total cost to me: zero dollars!

Not only that, but Dave sent me home with a bad of wild meat for future meals!

I am a very lucky girl.

Now, the other bit of amazing news. As we were chatting about my monthly food allowance, it dawned on me that I have given myself $5 a day for 30 days. I have no idea then why I have been going on the preface that I had a total of $140 to spent. I actually have $150 to spend!! Math was never my strong subject :-)  I have gone back and fixed all my totals. The correct numbers are:

Total spent today: $2.83

Total ‘credits’ for carry-over: $7.20

Total spent so far:  $80.35

Total left to spend: $69.75

My oh my it’s been a while! Life has a way of taking over sometimes, with little to no time left to blog. Since I last posted:

1. Had a wonderful long week-end in Vancouver in September, enjoying the early fall there.

2. Booked a trip next spring to Istanbul!! So excited!

3. My grandson started walking :-)

4. Spent tonnes of time in my garden, harvesting and getting it ready for next year.

5. Been doing research for a new project in November, which I will tell you about very shortly. So do check back…I promise I won’t be absent so long next time.

marmoleumRenovations. How I dislike the chaos they require!

For the past few weeks we have been working around no washer and dryer, no toilet in the main bathroom, and all the contents from our family room and tiny spare bedroom smooshed into our larger spare and master bedrooms.

However the end is in sight. We now have an almost finished laundry room (still need to install shelving and baseboards), new flooring has been laid in the main bathroom, as well as in the family room and the tiny spare bedroom (out with the old carpet and in with some marmoleum that is the colour of the Caribbean Sea). Over the week-end I managed to get two coats of paint applied to the family room and one to the bedroom (a very pale blue in both rooms), and we are almost at the stage where we can start putting everything back together again.

Hopefully getting rid of the carpet will ease Joe’s dog allergies, which have been getting steadily worse over the summer. Some nights he can hardly breathe, so if this doesn’t work I will sadly need to start looking for a new home for Chanel. It will break my heart to see her go, so I am going to try everything possible to flush out the house. I also just bought an air purifier, hoping that might help.  Note: photo taken from this website.

Just returned from a holiday in Newfoundland, where I hiked parts of the East Coast Trail on the Avalon Peninsula. What a gift this trip was! I have been to the Rock a few times before, but mostly stayed within St. John’s. Having seen this part of the province was added proof of what a special place it is, and just how beautiful.

I arrived too late in the season to see the icebergs, although my friend Ted and I shared a scotch with 10,000 year old iceberg ice that he had collected a few weeks previous.  What I did see were dozens of whales! One day, sitting at the edge of a cliff looking over the ocean, whales were continuously breaching all around me. It was incredible, and it made my heart glad that these beautiful creatures seem to be doing OK in spite of all the garbage we humans are dumping into the oceans.

There are lots of photos on my Facebook page, which I have opened to the general public to view, but here are a few of them:

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This photo, of the old lighthouse at Cape Spear, was taken by my friend Ted Blades, who joined me for the last day and a half of the hiking.

This photo, of the old lighthouse at Cape Spear, was taken by my friend Ted Blades, who joined me for the last day and a half of the hiking.

By the way, I want to give a shout out to the East Coast Trail Association and the volunteers who do a fabulous job of maintaining this trail. Many thanks for all your hard work.

Joe and I just returned from a week in Juneau on the Alaska Panhandle. We went there in large part to witness a large Tlingit cultural gathering that takes place every two years. But apart from that, we enjoyed the stunning beauty of the place and the ferry rides there and back (complete with whales, seals, a rainbow as we headed into Juneau and a bald eagle sitting on the dock waiting for us as we arrived in port). Here are just a few shots…lots more on my Facebook page.

Our ferry was much smaller than these big cruise ships docked in Skagway.

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Party onboard…drumming and singing in one corner, traditional weaving in another, and lots of laughter and teasing.

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Merndenhall Glacier

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Tlingit travellers arrive in canoes for the big cultural celebration.

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One of the singing/dancing/drumming performances

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Southeast Alaska is definitely bear country!

My new ‘traffic cone orange’ shoes. I got them for my summer travels, since they pack down very small in the suitcase. But I have to admit…I love how over the top bright they are!

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Just now getting around to catching up on my blog posts. Last month, my friend Lucca and I headed to a little place called Friday Harbour on the San Juan Islands, Washington State, for a week-end. Pretty little place with very friendly people. I was reminded again of how difficult it must sometimes be for introverts to live in the United States, given that it appears to be a country full of outgoing and vivacious folks.

We spent the week-end just walking around, visiting the local farmers’ market, watching a local production of Annie (it was great!), and of course eating some tasty food and drinking wine!

Here are just a few pics from the trip:

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View of Friday Harbour.

DSCN4198It didn’t take us long to find the cheese shop, with a wonderful cheesecake with lemon curd. Mmmmmm!

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We stayed on a boat the first night, but it was a bit too funky and rustic for our taste, so moved to a hotel for Night 2.

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Took a taxi to the southeastern part of the island where we walked among
the old trees. I always feel better after being washed with ‘tree energy’.

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Lucca ignores the sign and parks herself on the railing at the beginning of the hiking trail.

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And look who came out to meet us at the end of the hike!

 

Cleaning out my camera’s memory card, I found these photos.

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Alan, holding Caleb, while Jamie looks on.

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Grampa Joe and Caleb look out the train window. We were travelling on the White Pass train out of Skagway, Alaska.

A couple of weeks ago, Iris and I headed down to Vancouver to catch Lady Gaga in concert. Unfortunately, the morning we were to leave we found out the Lady was sick and her gig was postponed until August. What to do?

We decided to go down anyway, and enjoyed a few days just hanging about in the city. I didn’t take many photos, but here are a few:

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This is the backyard of the friend we stayed with, complete with his beautiful Japanese-style meditation house. So peaceful!

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We spent a few hours at Granville market, where I bought a handmade broom. They made the brooms right there, and the smell of fresh hay was lovely!

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Glorious cherries from the market!

 

The company I work for is involved in a potential project that does not have much apparent support from Yukoners. Over the last several months, there have been letters to the editor and impassioned speeches at public meetings. Last night was one such meeting.

It’s no fun having person after person stand up to bash a project that I know was conceived with nothing but good intentions and lots of sweat and hard work. It’s also difficult to listen to statements made based (in some cases) on incorrect information. But all that aside, I am so proud to live in a place where people really care about issues and aren’t afraid to share their views.

I have lived in other places where I have seen a fair amount of apathy. I don’t think Yukoners can be accused of that.

Of course I have no way of knowing whether this project will end up proceeding or not. But either way, I hope that Yukoners never stop being passionate about what matters to them, and I hope they never stop caring about our little blue planet. xxx.

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I was standing in front of my open closet the other day looking for inspiration, and not getting much I am afraid. I haven’t bought any new clothes for a while, and truth be told I am bored with most of what I own.

Yesterday I did a big clean out, keeping only those things I still love and hauling off three bags to the local Salvation Army thrift shop. I bet if I did a further cull today I’d find another bag or two to donate.

While at the Sally Ann I did see one skirt that I liked and brought home with me…it reminded me of an old apron that my grandmother wore for years (I’m a sucker for anything reminiscent of the 50s) but it is a summer skirt so not going to help me out now. Time to get out the sewing machine I guess.  I’m not much for retail shopping (I find the quality leaves a lot to be desired even in the more expensive brands) and the pickings have been slim of late at the local consignment stores.

My new fairy tale books that I purchased with the money I received for being an Everyday Fluevogger.

My new fairy tale books that I purchased with the money I received for being an Everyday Fluevogger.

What a remarkable year we’ve just gone through…a grand baby who has given us great joy, trips to Ireland, San Francisco and the East Coast, one of the best summers and autumns weather-wise that I can remember, the realizing of a dream by helping to launch a local food co-op, some personal accomplishments on the yoga mat…so many good memories! And I am very excited about what lies ahead in 2014. Life just doesn’t get better than this!

Happy New Year everyone.

Christmas Day - our new born king!

Christmas Day – our new born king!

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There’s a reason people say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. However I couldn’t resist. This was at our staff Christmas party…we were the crew putting on our own version of the TV game show “Let’s Make a Deal”. I am of course the one with the full head of red hair.

Whoa! Can you believe these are Hush Puppies?? Who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?

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I’ve been reluctant to post many photos of Caleb, since I don’t want to be one of THOSE grandparents who inundates my friends with hundreds of baby photos. However I have been asked for some, so here are a few.

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Madonna and child.

Madonna and child.

kitschy kitschy boom boom LizBeing the shoe addict that I am, I tend to buy the shoes first and then figure out what to wear with them.

I’ve been looking for some time for a dress or skirt to wear with my beloved Kitschy Kitschy Boom Booms. And yesterday I think I found the perfect match!

I went in to a local consignment store (to take in three pairs of shoes I was ready to say good-bye to), and I came across this skirt.

 

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The photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s a vibrant turquoise silk with lots of swish and swing. It was made by a local woman who used to be a designer. I love the fact that she used purple raw silk as part of the attached crinoline slip.

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What I don’t like is the waist band, which is made out of a stretchy material. It’s warped and the tailoring is not up to par.

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I’ll find a small piece of silk and replace the band. I also hemmed the skirt – she had finished it with a serger but had left it at that, and I don’t care for unhemmed clothes. In any event, when I’m finished with it, I think I’ll have a skirt that I love and that I’ll wear for years.

The arrival of a baby in the household is always an adjustment for everyone, including the family pet. Watch as Chanel meets Caleb for the first time.

What the heck is that??

What the heck is that??

It's not a squirrel. It's not any of the neighbourhood cats either, even though it sounds a bit like one.

It’s not a squirrel. It’s not any of the neighbourhood cats either, even though it sounds a bit like one.

Time for a closer look. I've never smelled anything like this before in my life!!

Time for a closer look. I’ve never smelled anything like this before in my life!!

You're  kidding me, right?? It's a human and IT'S STAYING??? And you think bribing me with cheese and extra walks is going to work?? MY LIFE IS RUINED!!!!

You’re kidding me, right?? It’s a human and IT’S STAYING??? And you think bribing me with cheese and extra walks is going to work?? MY LIFE IS RUINED!!!!

 

 

 

Mother-Son Love

Meet Caleb, born today at 10:41 a.m. Congratulations Iris and Wade!

Can't focus on a darned thing today, waiting for that baby to come. So I made some pickled beets as a detraction. Now what?

Can’t focus on a darned thing today, waiting for that baby to come. So I made some pickled beets as a distraction. Now what?

Still no baby, but here are some shots from Iris’ baby shower.

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I’m starting to work on a new project. This one will be some time in the making but the photo gives a hint as to what it’s about. I am also looking for as many people in Whitehorse as possible who wear and love Fluevogs and who are willing to be in a creative group photo featuring your footwear. Let me know if you are interested.

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Spent the day in Teslin yesterday at a big Tlingit First Nation celebration. Tlingit come from many parts of Alaska, B.C. and Yukon to celebrate their culture with song, dance, crafts, games, etc. Here are just a few images from the day:

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Note these woven blankets: they are made from goat’s wool. The yarn is hand spun, then hand dyed, then woven on a loom. It takes about two months to prepare the materials, and another 1 to 3 years to weave the blanket. Below is a photo of a woman working on a child’s version.

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Elder Paddy Jim teaches others how to make a fish trap out of willows.

teslin3teslin8Even my ice cream had a native motif! Note how it’s melting…it was a very hot day in Teslin.

DSCN3942There would have been boat races. However someone recently went missing in the lake and the body has not been recovered, so as per tradition there were no activities held on the water during this festival.

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Just a few thinnings from my veggie garden. I find instead of going hard at it, if I do a small bit of gardening every day I am able to keep up.

Just a few thinnings from my veggie garden. I find instead of going hard at it, if I do a small bit of gardening every day I am able to keep up.

Sorry for my long absence. I’ve just been so friggin’ busy!! I have so much more to say about Ireland. And our new grandchild who’s about to enter this world. And what a glorious summer we’ve been having. And other stuff too.

However, it’s a Friday night after a really crazy work week and I am brain dead. Stay tuned tomorrow after I’ve had a good night’s sleep!

Night all.

It’s probably no coincidence that it was Irish musician Bob Geldof who spearheaded Band Aid, raising something like $14-million for famine relief in Ethiopia in the 1980s. It’s also likely no coincidence that per capita, the Irish apparently give more money to famine relief than just about any other country in the developed world.

Ireland has had an intimate relationship with hunger. It wasn’t much more than 150 years ago that Ireland lost about a quarter of its population when the potato crops failed several years running.  About a million people died and another million emigrated to North America and other places around the world.

I won’t go into all the details about the cause of the famine. There’s a lot more to it than a bunch of rotten spuds but you can read about it on the web. Suffice to say this period in history has deeply marked the Irish people.

There are something like 15 famine monuments and museums around the country. I saw two of them; both were profoundly poignant and powerful.

Famine monument in Dublin. These folks appear to be leaving Ireland, walking towards the emigration ships at Dublin's Quayside.

Famine monument in Dublin.

Famine sculpture in Sligo, a town that suffered more than most in Ireland during the mid-1800s. These parents have scraped together money to send their child to America. There isn’t enough money for all of them to go; just the child. Here they are saying good-bye to her before she boards the ship.

I think of my own great-great grandmother Hannah Sarsfield, who apparently was able to secure a spot on a ship coming to Canada by offering to take care of one family’s children. It is said she didn’t have any food with her, and only survived because the ship’s navigator, my great-great grandfather James Coleman, took a shine to her, fed her, and ended up marrying her. Who did she leave behind to come to the New World, and what suffering did she endure? She was one of the lucky ones. On some boats, one in five people died during the journey. They didn’t call them Coffin Ships for nothing.

Contrast that with today, where no Irish B and B operator worth his or her weight in potatoes will send you out the door without a massive 1,450+ calorie breakfast. Below are examples of our ‘first course’, that consisted of fruits, breads, cereals, cheeses, etc. followed by a hot plate typically made up of eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, white pudding, beans, fried tomatoes, and sometimes mushrooms. In Northern Ireland, potato pancakes got added to that list.

The cold portion of the breakfast

The cold portion of the breakfast

The hot portion of the meal, and this one was actually modest compared to most others we were served.

The hot portion of the meal, and this one was actually modest compared to most others we were served.

When Joe and I protested that we couldn’t eat another thing, rubbing our rapidly expanding bellies, our hosts would say things like, “Well, you need a breakfast to keep you going all day”, and “Travelling around actually takes a lot of energy. We can’t see you going hungry.”

My theory is that this all leads back to the Great Famine. The Irish lived the unspeakable horrors of starvation, and to think about anyone going hungry these days must be incorrigible for them.

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