Happy Spirit Day, aka, my dad teaches acceptance with food

I remember the first time I talked to my parents about people being gay. My dad used to travel a lot when I was a kid, and he would eat out constantly at restaurants. This is probably why he always wanted to eat spaghetti and macaroni and tomatoes when he got home. But I digress.

I must have been in my early teens when he was back from Vancouver and was telling the story. He talked about taking a colleague to one of his favorite steakhouses. The man who was with him really enjoyed the steak, and complemented dad on his choice of restaurant. Somewhere around dessert, however, the man noticed that there were only same-sex couples in the restaurant. He looked at my dad surprised, and questioned him somewhat accusingly about his choice of restaurants. My dad told us that he had simply shrugged, and said “it has good steak!”

This little story of my dad’s set a tone in our family. Everybody eats. Everybody loves. Everybody has family. Sometimes the externals look different, but underneath, all humans are fundamentally the same. Dad didn’t care that he was eating steak at a gay bar, or how that may have looked to his colleague. The food was the important thing.

Thank goodness we had this experience, as all if us kids have had our lives enriched by friends and family who are LGTB.

Today, I’m proud that our blog will wear purple to support spirit day, a day when we stand up to bullying for LGTB youth. Everyone should feel safe in their school, and at work, and in their families.

Our Canadian Charter of Human Rights ensures that, legally, we should not be allowed to discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

Unfortunately, everyday actions don’t always reflect our basic rights. Today is a day to think about the way we talk, the way we tell stories to work kids, the way we treat our friends, and the way we treat all other people we encounter.

I’m posting this song because, #1 I think it is extremely beautiful, and because, #2 it has real meaning to me. The way the lady sings “she keeps me warm” is exactly the way I feel about my husband.

Enjoy the song if you are hearing it for the first time, or the hundredth time. I hope you listen to the lyrics and give an extra hug to your self, or anyone else who has faced discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Happy spirit day.

Sent from my iPhone

A Home-Grown Thanksgiving

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One of the great pleasures of having your own garden is eating the food you produce, and sharing it with others.

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I woke up Thanksgiving Day, thoughtful, and musing to my us and, “What exactly are we celebrating, anyway?”

I mean, we are far removed from the Pilgrim and American Indians and the whole American Thanksgiving story. It really has nothing to do with this secular holiday that everyone in Canada celebrates weeks before the Americans do.

Well, my husband just looked at me, as if it was obvious. “We are celebrating the harvest, of course,” the farm boy replied.

Well then, that sat with me. After all, our menu was full of vegetables we had grown right in our garden. Our turkey grew up on a free range farm just kilometres from our house, the bread was baked from local flour at a small shop a few blocks away. The potatoes we got from a local farmer, but the beets, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob… And of course the apples in the stuffing and pie! Those all came from to the Rowan homestead.

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The girls had fun helping me cook… But I think they had more fun dissecting the bird’s innards afterwards. They do get it from both sides of the family, I guess!

As we all know, turkey’s take forever to cook, and we had a real monster this year (guess who didn’t preorder her turkey and was lucky to catch the last one in the store?) so we spent four hours in the middle of the day working outside in the garden on the new winter home for our cluckers.

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It’s my own passive solar design with a used window and an old door from our house as the walls. Cool eh?

The girls worked on their Brownie Wood Working badge, learning safety and how to use the tools. Then they started spontaneously nature crafting.

One of my daughters commented to me today that it was one of our best family days she could remember. 🙂

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Then, the turkey was finally done…

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And our friend T and J and their kid lets spontaneously joined us to eat. How delicious!
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It was a lovely Thankgiving, and a lovely family day. I think we celebrated the fall harvest in the best way possible… With family and friends!

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Going to the mountains is going home

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We were traipsing about in the woods of Kananaskis country earlier this week, and I was reminded of a quote from John Muir:

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

It was a real compromise with my prairie boy husband to move to the Okanagan Valley six years ago. Don’t get me wrong… I’m happy with our decision. But if I hadn’t been required to meet in the middle with a flatlander, I would have ended up in the mountains.
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I have a theory that your heart is somehow connected to the place you are born. I was born in Kimberly, and my home for the first six months of my life was a flat little plateau at an old airport, wedged between the Rockies and the Purcells. After that, we moved to the big prairie of Fort St. John in Northern BC. But there is still something that resonates with me deeply when I’m driving into the trees and rocks of a mountain range. The glacial lakes, the unforgiving climate and the crispness of the air. Even the moss and alpine flowers than cover the ground have a particular homeyness to me. When I drive into the mountains, even though I have only lived there for 6 months of my life, I feel like I am going home.

Enjoy the pictures of my little girls and I spending time in the mountains. On the way to Calgary, we stayed one night at Lake Louise and wandered with the other thousands of tourists around the lake. Then on the way home a couple of days later, we stepped off the frequented path to a much quieter trail for some geocaching in Kananaskis country.

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Oysters and Lace: my cousin’s fall wedding

Last weekend the girls and I drove to Calgary for my cousin’s wedding. We drove through the mountains, staying the night at Lake Louise and then in Invermere on the way back. (Jason, in the meanwhile, spent the weekend in Las Vegas studying about eye surgery. He hit the poker tables, too, I am told.)
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The wedding itself was absolutely lovely. P and S got married in the River Café, on an island in the middle of the Bow River. The little restaurant is rustic, but has delectable food. I learned that my cousin married a fellow foodie! I was so pleased to see the menu, because I knew they would enjoy all the home canning and organic small vineyard wine that we brought from British Columbia as their wedding gift.
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The ceremony was outside overlooking the river, with many of us wrapped up in blankets to watch. S’s dress was absolutely lovely, and the ceremony was personal and touching. It was the first wedding the girls have ever been to, and the bar was set high. At the end of the ceremony, they toasted with champagne and the girls enjoyed their sparkling lemonade.
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The girls were the only children at the wedding… But they behaved amazing well. Both of them went a little bananas with the appetizers post-ceremony. But children do get hungry by 7 o’clock in the evening. Spice had multiple plates from the charcuterie platter, while Sugar could not be extracted from the oyster bar. Sugar told me that she had five oysters… And yes, she likes them raw and without sauce!
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Then there was a lovely four course meal, come followed by a dance. The girls got up in between courses to visit with family, and make the rounds. We also got a chance to sit with our own little clan, and catch up and enjoy each other’s company. It’s not very often that all of us get together and nobody is cooking or doing dishes! We were only missing my brother’s girlfriend and my dear husband.
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The dance was fun! And the girls had an amazing time. I told them that they could stay up as late as they wanted, and they made it all the way until 11 o’clock at night. The funny thing was, that they were so awestruck by “the bride,” that they did not show off the regular moves! instead, they danced with the 30 something single women, and took turns dancing with grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I could tell that they were a little nervous and very excited, because they were so subdued. Finally around 11 o’clock, they started almost falling over from exhaustion. So we bundled them up and took them off to my aunt’s for the night.
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Big thanks to my cousin and his new bride for their wonderful hospitality, and for including our children as well as the rest of the family. We all had such a lovely time, and the girls will be talking for quite a while about “the bride’s dress” and the oysters.

Our Dozen Pets: Relative Peace and Harmony

Lately, I have taken a strange delight in telling people that we have 12 pets. I don’t know what it is about the even dozen, but it sounds really cool! It also sounds a little crazy.

We definitely are animal lovers… When I met Jason I already had two dogs, and he considered it an asset. Well, Hamish, the best dog ever, has since passed. And Maggie is getting older, deaf, and demanding in her old age. But she is still the matriarch of our little clan of animals.
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Speaking of Maggie, she is doing very well these days. She is getting deaf and is pretty blind at the ripe ole age of 13. But her arthritis is under reasonable control and, thanks to the supplements Jason has given her, her coat is shiny and she is generally in a good mood. She has had some problems with her spine lately, though, so her nervous system is not speaking to her back legs properly. That means she stumbles a lot on the stairs. But she still enjoys her daily walk to the girls’ elementary school. She’s doing remarkably well in her senior years.
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Laughlin, our Cairn Terrier come lately, is his usual barky and upbeat self. Actually, Laughlin has improved a lot over the last couple of years. At one point, I think he was possibly the worst dog I have ever met. He bit the girls all the time, peed all over the house, and chased the cats to kill them. Now, he still will pee in the house if left unsupervised. It’s a lonely thing. But he only chases the cat half the time. And his relationship has completely improved with the girls. In fact, he has changed from the worst dog I have ever met to a very medium dog. Congratulations, Laughlin ! LOL. But in truth, he has always been very cuddly, affectionate, friendly and loving little dude. 20131003-211256.jpgThe cats are doing well up in their apartment upstairs. Haatim has also really seen a lot of health improvements in the last year. He was really cranky and didn’t want much to do with anyone. But after some very very very nasty stuff in the litter box, Jason took charge. He changed his food and added some probiotics. And voila! In short, he’s a new cat! He’s much more cuddly, friendly and often wants his tummy petted. It’s so nice to see him doing better.
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Vega is her old self. She loves to cuddle and lick you like nobody’s business. I can’t believe my little baby kitten is already eight years old! She sleeps at night in the girls’ bed and keeps Spice company on the top bunk.
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Then, there are the hamsters. These are actually interesting little things. When the girls got them from Santa last year, little did I know how much I would enjoy these small, affectionate rodents. Would you believe that Peetrik comes when I call!? They are both super cuddly and I get a snuggle with them every night that I watch a little television upstairs. The only weird thing about hamsters is that one of them often gets loose. My dad was helping the girls change their hamster cages when we were away in Morocco, and since, the cages haven’t been quite the same. 🙂 Peetrik will seize any opportunity, if her cage is not completely shut, to go wandering about the living room. We have no idea where she goes… Because as soon as she is out of her cage we cannot find her. We have not even found her droppings, to figure out where she goes! But when we come back in the morning she is always snuggled safely in her cage. Thank goodness! The only dicey time was when Hannah got loose, and broke into her sister’s cage. We found them battle scarred in the morning, sleeping at opposite ends. But that’s the only time that they have come home scarred from a breakout.
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The fish are the fish. Not much to write there. One of the few quiet moments of Zen in my day is feeding the fish, and watching them, like giant Koi fish, gulp up the fish food. For the benefit of our neighbors who bequeathed the fish to us, I will also say, they are in excellent health.
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And then there are our two feathered friends in the backyard. They are so funny! And sugar the lights in checking on them several times a day. Sometimes the girls set up lawn chairs right in front of their tractor, just so they can watch them. It’s also nice to have pets that actually contribute to the bottom line, instead of cost a fortune.

That’s a good summary of our furry, scaled, and feathery family members. Everyone seems to be doing pretty well, and is coexisting in relative peace and harmony.
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Note that I did not post about our pets on Frugal Fridays! Because it does take quite a bit to keep this circus going. But, we like living in the zoo… It may be a bit messy and chaotic, but it sure keeps life interesting.