“You just can’t live that negative way.
You know what I mean. Make way for the positive day. Cause it’s a new day…”

Bob Marley

The past couple of weeks my family has been living like nomads roaming free around the countryside. We planned our camping trip months ago and we decided to take the trailer up to the interior of British Columbia as the children and I have never been there. To start the trip we decided to drive to Barkerville, BC. It was a ten-hour drive to arrive to a place that is off the beaten path. We arrived after dark and the only address for the campsite listed on the website was “this campsite is 3 kilometres east of Barkerville.” I knew this was remote but I had no idea how remote until we got there and drove up and down the road leading to Barkerville looking for some kind of sign that led us to the campground. We finally found a service road and tucked in behind was a sign leading us to our campground. I’m use to staying in packed campgrounds so I was unprepared to be one of three campers in a fairly large campground. Upon booking I knew that the ammenities were few and far between. There was water but no hook-up and no electricity. There were washrooms with a shower but upon inspection, it was $1.00 a minute to shower and the water was luke warm at best. I wasn’t worried about the no electricity or water hookup, but a cold shower, no thank-you.

The next day we headed to Barkerville and we were filled with the history of the gold rush in the area and I must say it was very interesting. I can’t imagine living somewhere so remote and trying to establish myself way back when there was no electricity and plumbing. I didn’t realize that Barkeville and the Gold Rush made BC what it is today. When Billy Barker struck gold, there was a movement to annex BC to the USA. When the Queen of England found out about Billy Barker’s riches in gold she promptly put a stop to the movement because she wanted a piece of the pie! At one time it was thought that Vancouver would not become an established city because of the success of Barkerville. Hard to believe but Barkerville housed fifteen thousand people in its heyday. As much as I enjoyed the couple of days in Barkerville I couldn’t help but notice and feel an enormous amount of negative energy from the land. Every night when I went to sleep my head was filled with negativity making it difficult for me to sleep and during the day I had an uneasy feeling. I told my husband and he said “there was a lot of greed, evil, sickness and death in this land, maybe you’re just feeling the negative residue that’s been left behind.” I’m not sure, but I was definetely feeling something. A few minutes later after telling my husband about the negativity, I heard him humming to himself outside of the trailer. The song went something like this, “you gotta lose those negative ways baby.” I’m surprised I heard him but the area was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

We stayed in Barkerville for three nights and I didn’t take a shower as the second day it was cold and raining and the thought of taking my clothes off in a cold concrete room only to jump into a cold shower and pay $1.00 for a minute didn’t sit well with me. Instead I filled a pot with water and boiled the water on my gas stove and sponged bathed in the bathroom in the trailer. Good thing I was born in this era, I wouldn’t have survived in the gold rush days! We left Barkerville and drove east to Kamloops and then on to Fort Steele about a twelve hour drive through the mountains. It was a beautiful drive and only after driving for two hours did I feel the negativity leave my body. I’m not sure what I was feeling but something didn’t feel right.

I’ll be sure to post pictures as I can’t load pictures with the computer I’m using. We are still in Nomad mode cruising the countryside. I’ll  update  with more stories and pictures in the next little while. I’m grateful to say that so far during the rest of my trip, I have only felt peace and tranquility in this beautiful Rocky Mountain countryside and I haven’t heard my husband singing “you gotta lose those negative ways baby” since we left Barkerville.


“It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and few by deceit.”   Noel Coward…..


A major setback for me has been that I’m too honest.  Sad but true, people would much rather listen to un-truths than an honest person.  I will be 50 years old this coming November and it’s taken me this long to figure out why people would rather listen to phony, bullshit people rather than an honest, straight-shooter person; it’s all about egos.  People want their egos stroked, they want to be told how great they are and they want to be able to say things, even cruel or stupid things, without consequence.  It’s that simple!  Enter an honest, straight shooter into this game and there is bound to be problems.  I’ve never been very patient with bullshit, ego-boosting people or “look-at-me” attention driven nonsense.  The behaviour annoys me beyond belief and I’ve had to dig deep into my psyche  and ask myself  “why do I care?”   It’s occurred to me that maybe all of this annoys me  because it’s more than possible that I am really ego driven and looking for the attention that seems to pass by me or maybe I am  jealous of the fact that these people seem to have easy-going relationships, and friendships.   Let’s face it we are all somewhat self-centred and at some point we will ask ourselves “what’s in it for me?”  I remember listening  to Dr Phil saying to a patient,  “Is that working for you?”  He was talking about the behaviour of this patient and how it was working for her in her life.  In other words she was gaining something from her behaviour on one level and not dealing with the consequences of the behaviour on another level.  

This is what I notice, people do and say things that are hurtful or plain wrong and as soon as someone says something to the contrary or points out that their words or behaviour is wrong, they don’t want to hear it and do anything to justify their stand, including choosing the victim route, “why me?”, the passive aggressive route or the ego route(“how dare you, do you know who I am?”).  When you really think about all of this behaviour, it is amusing and I believe laughter is the best medicine to all.  When I dig deep into myself I’ve come to the conclusion that I feel annoyed because I am a fairly simplistic person who lacks patience.  I simply don’t understand why someone can say something that I may not agree with or say something hurtful and I can’t voice my disagreement in an adult manner.

I once had a boss who would ask me my opinion on certain things he was dealing with.  The first thing I always said to him before I gave him my opinion was “are you sure you want my honest opinion?”  “Yes, that’s why I’m asking you.”  I would then tell him what I honestly thought and he would get annoyed with me and say something like “I knew you would say something like that!”   I would be annoyed all day and think to myself “why did he ask me if he didn’t want my opinion?’  This went on for a while as I worked for him for years and eventually he would be in my office asking for my opinion and the same banter would happen.  Finally I asked him “why do you ask me for my opinion when you don’t really want to hear what I have to say?”  He look surprised and said “but I do want to hear what you have to say, I know you will be blunt  and honest with me no matter what I say and I appreciate your honesty even though I don’t always agree with you.”  It was then that I realized as a boss most people just went along with whatever he said and didn’t tell him the truth, they just told him what they thought he wanted to hear.  I once read an interview with Bono of U2 and he made a comment that during his rise to fame, and still to this day, he listened to people who thought and said opposite of his thinking pattern,   “listening to people who tell me what I want to hear, isn’t going to get me anywhere or help me grow as a musician or a person,” he says.  Very honest words.

I’ve been blessed to have a few good friends in my life, friends I can be myself and not be afraid to be honest with them.  At the same time I depend on these friends to be completely honest with me, when I ask them for their advice I want their honest advice even if it means that I don’t like what they have to say.  One such friend has been my friend for the last  25 years and she has helped me more than she knows.  During conflicting times with my family or friends she always bluntly points out maybe this situation has happened because I’ve said or done this and maybe I need to think this out more, or maybe I need to be more patient or maybe I need to be a little less me!  I love her honesty and I love how we can tell each other the truth.  Not that we haven’t had our arguments over the years, we’ve had plenty but we always come back to our friendship in complete honesty and count our blessings that we can count on each other  for loyalty, honesty and trust.  Funny thing is I don’t see her very often, not nearly often enough, as both our lives are crazy busy,  but we are always there for one-another in times of need and times of celebration.   Just one friendship based on this kind of loyalty, honesty and trust is worth more than 20 friendships based  on phony, ego stroking and telling you what you want to hear.

Unfortunately, I’ve lost too as the truth hurts.  I’ve lost what I thought were friends and relationships with family members.  In each instance I’ve done some deep soul-searching and I’ve come to the conclusion that in my quest for complete honesty there will be some sacrifices.  I’ve already made some sacrifices and I’m bound to make some more.  I won’t change who I am to meet someone else’s needs, I will always be myself.  I’ve also had to wrestle with the fact that at times I’ve trusted when I shouldn’t have trusted, making me reluctant to trust again but then I think of my trusted friend and if I hadn’t opened up my true self to her, our friendship wouldn’t be what it is today.  The same goes for my husband and my children, they may get mad at me at times but they depend on me as, as I depend on them, for truth, honesty and loyalty.   Even when the truth hurts.



icecream-pie-9Found this recipe on High Walls – I love berries and vanilla ice cream.  I haven’t made this yet but it’s a no brainer.  I’m positive the pie is delicious – after all it contains two very important ingredients for awesomeness – fat and sugar!  Enjoy – picture makes me want to eat it up..

MIXED BERRY PIE (Recipe from High Walls )

1 packet of Nice Biscuits

1 cup of butter

1/3 cup of sugar

1 pint of vanilla ice cream

1 packet of frozen mixed berries

1. Place the biscuits in a food processor and blitz until reduced to crumbs. Transfer  to a large mixing bowl. Along with the sugar (you can omit the sugar if you prefer).

2. Melt the butter and allow to cool slightly before using. Add gradually to the crumb mixture, mixing as you go until the mixture starts to clump together. (you may not need all the butter)

3. Press the mixture evenly into a pie or tart tin, pushing up at the sides and smoothing the bottom. The mixture should come together as you press down. Place in the freezer to set for 30 – 40 minutes.

4. Meanwhile allow the vanilla ice cream to soften in a large bowl. Place the 3/4 of the frozen berries in a food processor and pulse a few times to break down into smaller pieces.

5. Mix the berries (and any juices) into the softened ice cream. If you are feeling it, add in some finely chopped chocolate as well.

6. Remove the crust from the freezer and fill with the ice cream and berries. Ensure that the crust is completely filled and smooth down the top. Wrap in plastic wrap and return to the freezer for at least an hour.

7. To serve, remove the pie from the freezer and allow to sit to soften slightly before cutting into slices. Top with the remaining frozen berries and dust with icing sugar if you so desire.

killer tofu

I get a kick out of yoonanimous – she’s got a wicked sense of humour and this looks like a wicket recipe.


Adapted from “Martin Yan’s Chinatown Cooking”


3 fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms (if dried, soak in warm water for 20 minutes), de-stemmed and chopped

6 oz. ground pork

1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon hot bean paste, black bean sauce, bean chili sauce, or chili garlic sauce (one of these should be available in the “ethnic foods” aisle—we’re getting ethnic, people!—of your grocery store. If you have a choice, go for the bean chili sauce)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/3 cup chopped water chestnuts

1 14-oz. package soft (or silken, or Japanese style) tofu, drained and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch lengths

2 teaspoons cornstarch (dry)

2 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water


1. Marinate the pork: stir the ground pork, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce together, let stand 10 minutes.

2. Make the sauce: stir 2 tablespoons soy sauce in a bowl with the sesame oil and one cup water. Set aside.

3. Chop the water chestnuts, mushrooms, green onions, throw them all in bowl and set aside. Get your chopped garlic ready. Make sure your tofu is cut and drained. You want everything chopped before you start a stir-fry, because the actual cooking takes like 4 minutes.

4. Heat a wok, skillet, or cast-iron pan over high heat until hot. Add oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and stir fry until fragrant, mybe 20 seconds. Add the pork, whatever bean/chili paste or sauce you are using, and stir fry until the pork is crumbly, 2-3 minutes.

5. Pour the sauce into the pan along with the cut vegetables (water chestnuts, mushrooms, green onions). Slide in your tofu, stir gently or swirl the pan to get the tofu coated with the sauce. Let simmer until heated through, 2-3 minutes. Don’t freak out if your soft tofu starts to break apart. Just be as gentle as you can.

6. Pour in the dissolved cornstarch and cook gently, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens, about 1 minute. If you don’t care if your sauce is runny, you can omit this step.

7. Take off heat. Serve over hot brown rice!


Everywhere you turn, someone is telling you that something you’re feeding your kids is bad for them. Which is fine if your kids are good eaters and you have a host of food options from which to choose. My kids? Left to their own devices, they each eat like twelve foods. Maybe more like six, if you take away the fruit.

One of the things they will both eat, however, is tofu. They will eat every variety of tofu, from silken to pressed. They will eat it in soup, baked, pan fried, steamed, whatever. And that’s good because tofu has nutritious stuff in it, like vegetable protein.


Anyway, about the tofu. The latest word on tofu is that if you have boy children and they eat too much of it, they will grow breasts. Or something like that. Feel free to Google it—I haven’t, because, okay, I admit it, I’m…

View original post 851 more words


“While we try to teach our children about life, our children teach us what life is all about”  Angela Schwindt

Trying to get my youngest son away from his video and computer games is excruciating and painful.   Matt will play video games all day and night if you let him.  He starts playing a game and you can see the transformation taking place.  He is like a drug addict on crack and I tell him that all the time.  I get mad when he refuses to stop and I’ll say “you are like a crack addict getting your fix.”  He gets really mad at me and says “I am not, I can leave this game whenever I want.”  I say “then leave the game now, turn it off.”  “Let me just finish this, only five minutes left.”  “No, turn it off now Matt.”  “Let me just finish this” he says with his voice raising.  At this point I demand that he turns it off and then we get into a physical struggle while I grab the controls and he desperately tries to stop me.

Exhausting and I can see why parents just walk away and won’t deal with it because it is a challenge.  Simply put, I see my job as a parent to stop my children from doing things that are bad for them and guiding them to a better life.  Even though I don’t mind them playing video games and computers, I think there should be a limit and when the game takes over their lives to the point that they don’t even want to go outside or do anything else, I stop the game and kick them out of the house.  Matt, especially, will stand outside in the doorway and say “what am I supposed to do?”  It’s like he’s a lost puppy without the controls in his hands.  ” Go exploring, look for spiders, put on your blades and go rollerblading, ride your bike, shoot pucks, play football, lie in the grass and watch the clouds, grab some other kids and play hide-and-seek but whatever you do, do not tell me that you have nothing to do!”  I then slam the door and leave him to himself to figure it out.

Why is it I feel guilty as I walk away from the door and complete housework or whatever task I have to finish?  I hate to use the line to the boys, “when I was young I walked miles to school and back” like my mother did, but when I was young my mother never had to kick me out of the house, I ate breakfast and ran outside to find my friends, stayed out there until lunch and then after lunch I was outside until dinner and then after dinner I was outside until bed.  My feet were constantly black and I can remember being in the bath after a long day of playing and my mother complaining how dirty I was and she couldn’t tell if  she was scrubbing away dirt or my skin as I was very brown and freckled from being in the sun everyday.  I grew up in Montreal and the cold winters did not deter me either.  On weekends and after school I was outside for hours building forts and playing games.   So what have we done to our children with video games and too many conveniences?  We’ve taken the wonder out of our boys and the imagination out of our girls.   The good fight between myself and Matthew is interesting as he always fights like crazy to stay in the house in his addicted, deprived state and slams all kinds of things in anger as he leaves the house and stands outside with his shoulders hunched and his hands in a fist because he is furious with me.  When I check back on him 15 minutes later, he is smiling and happy and either blading, shooting pucks or playing with the other kids.  I then have the difficult task, as my mother did all those years ago, of getting him to come in to eat. I also like him to get out for walks and I force him to come with me and it’s the same never-ending language between us, he is always mad and won’t talk to me for at least  the first 10 minutes of our walks and then something will grab his attention and then my boy wonder comes back and he will talk my ear off asking me about anything and everything.

Once after work I was going for a walk and it was just the two of us at home that day and he was, of course, playing video games.  I said “Matt I’m going for a walk to the park and you’re coming with me.”  No I’m not, I’m staying here while you walk, I don’t want to go for a walk.”  “Nope, you won’t even own a video game if you don’t come with me because if you don’t come with me for a walk, I’ll change the game-plan and pack up all of your videos and games in a plastic garbage bag and drive everything to the nearest Salvation army and donate it all instead of going for a walk.”  He glared at for me a little while and then abruptly got up and grabbed his runners all the while slamming a few things around in a frustrated,  furious motion because he knows I’m good as my word and I would do just as I said.  We get to the park and I love walking there because the trail leads you through a forest and it feels so good to breathe in the woodsy smell and be around so much greenery.

We start out and Matt is not talking to me, walking with his shoulders hunched over looking very unhappy.  About five minutes into the forest Matt’s natural curious nature takes over and he stops at every flower to ask me what kind it is and every tree to look beyond the path and stops to pet every dog that goes by and has a little conversation with the dog owner.  I’m now trying to be patient because my walk is entirely screwed as I’m not walking at a pace consistent with working out. Finally we get to the end of our walk and I’m way ahead of Matt and he stops to look in a grove through the trees and he’s yelling, “mom come here, come here.”  “Matt, what is it, I can’t stop to look at every bloody tree, I want to get my walk in plus I’ve got to get home and cook dinner as your dad and Brendan should be home by now and I don’t want be eating dinner at 8:00 this evening.”  Impatiently, he says “mom just stop and come here now.”   I walk very quickly toward him with the demeanour of a very pissed off impatient woman and I get there and he says “look through the trees mom, do you see it?”  I look through the trees and I see trees and I say to him “no I don’t see it, we’ve got to go.”  “Mom”, he laughs, “I can’t believe you don’t see it.”  “Matt what are you talking about as I stare into the trees and all I can see is trees.”  “Mom are you serious, you really don’t see it, look closely mom and breathe while you are looking, I know you will see it.”  I stop and breathe and look again and then I saw it and I couldn’t stop seeing it.

There in the grove was this magical formation of spider webs, spider webs like I’ve never seen before. There must have been 50 spiders in the middle of every intricate web.  It was like a city scape of beautiful webs and spiders.  There must have been 10 feet of spiders and their webs and as the sun shone down the webs glistened and danced in the light.  My boy wonder saw the whole magnificent sight immediately, I walked right by it and never noticed as a matter of fact if I was walking through the woods I would have crashed right into that spider city.  Boy wonder is standing in the grove staring at the spiders and smiling.  He says “mom don’t they look beautiful in the sunlight and you missed it mom, you missed it because your mind is always far away, you need to be more here now.”

My boy wonder was essentially telling me the same thing I’ve been telling him, stop wasting your life away and notice the nows and let all past and future go and enjoy the moment because this very moment won’t happen again.  The chances of seeing a spider phenomenon like that again is unlikely, so I stood for quite a while with boy wonder while we talked about the webs of nature and how spiders and all creatures are important.  Matt taught me a lesson that day, he taught me not to underestimate my children, he also taught me to get out of my head and enjoy my surroundings all this from my video addicted boy wonder.





simple garden

A couple of weeks ago while camping, I got up early to go for a walk and spend a little time by myself.   I grabbed the camera and headed out of the trailer and started walking in any direction my heart desired.  Found myself going across a mini bridge and before my eyes was this single wild rose resting on the banister.  As I was taking the picture I thought about my garden,  how I don’t really have the time for it and I try to simplify by planting perennial plants as much as possible.  There is some planning involved in  painting a garden but as I walked across the bridge I realized that I try too hard, you can’t beat the beautiful canvas created by nature’s very own brush.


Last week upon returning home from a camping trip, we drove by a for-sale-sign staked in our neighbour’s lawn.  Believe me this does not sadden me as I’ve had trouble with this neighbour, not recent trouble, but trouble that has created a very necessary rift between us and I wrote about it in trouble in paradise.  I really haven’t had much to do with the family in a few years, but the mom can be so difficult to deal with that I’ve secretly been praying for a miracle that our fence that divides our properties, and thankfully our souls, would magically last forever.  I can’t even imagine what a pain it would be trying to work out an arrangement if the fence should break, or rot, with such a difficult person.  Having said that, for all I know the person who buys the house could be a nightmare, so even though I’m happy to watch her backside exit this neighbourhood, I’m not shouting with glee to the stars either.   Her house is perfect and I mean perfect as a few years ago they essentially gutted the bottom floor and put in all new flooring, kitchen etc, etc, essentially  remodelling their home and it looks fabulous.  In some ways I feel sorry for this family as they have fallen victim to the never-ending addiction of consumerism.   It is true you can tell a lot about people by studying their garbage and my neighbour’s garbage tells me she is a big consumer.  We have an organic program here in this city, we put all of our scraps, meat, grass cuttings, and weeds in a giant green bin and the city picks up the green bin once a week.  This family doesn’t use the organic program, however, their recycling bin and garbage bin is filled over the brim every week with mostly cardboard boxes and styrofoam that recently held the new items that they purchased that week.   When the boys were younger they would be riding bikes I found at thrift shops and second-hand stores and the clothes on their backs were always deals I found through thrifting or hand-me-downs.  The boys never really thought much of it until they talked to this neighbour’s children; everything her children wore had designer tabs and her children couldn’t wait to tell the boys what their mom paid for it.  Funny really because my boys were not even remotely impressed, they didn’t care and as a matter of fact at times they would say to me, “why would she pay $150.00 for a pair of boots that her daughter won’t be able to wear next year?”   The boys weren’t the only ones questioning this, in a neighbourhood where we all have regular jobs, mortgages, kids in sports; most everyone is doing what I’m doing, accounting for every dollar and trying to stay out of ridiculous debt.  No one really cares about designer labels in this hood.   Yet here is the crazy part and the reason why I am giving you a little bit of the history with this neighbour.   Even though she is everything I strive not to be I find myself watching the stream of people going through the house and worrying that we have not done enough work to the house or if we should spend more money updating bathrooms or kitchens making me crazy and feeling panicked that we won’t be able to sell the house at the price we want when the time comes.  The emotion of self-doubt and the act of questioning everything our family is doing is happening because even though we don’t buy into consumerism and perfection, I know most of the world does and watching the stream of people going through my neighbour’s house has added to this insecure feeling.  We have not reached perfection in this household and to be honest I wouldn’t even want to live with perfection.  I love my vintage and gently used furniture yet I am feeling like maybe I should have bought decent furniture or put the money into new carpets and so on and so on.  Then I remember to be authentic, I choose to live my life with authenticity and honesty.  I’m teaching my children to live their lives authentically as well, not be impressed by money, designer digs or fancy cars.  Of course they are – my son likes van runners and he has two pairs that he paid for by himself because I told him if he wants to pay $50.00 – $60.00 for a pair of canvas shoes then he could pay for them himself.  He did and he loves his shoes but ironically when we go thrifting one of the first things he does is look in the shoe department for van shoes.  Unfortunately, he hasn’t found his size but the price-tag of $7.00 for a perfectly good pair of “van” shoes has led him on a treasure hunt sort-a-speak for all things “van” without the $50.00 price tag.  I for one sit back and enjoy as I watch my lessons regarding money at play.   After spending $120.00 on canvas shoes he realizes he could of saved his money for other things he needs and wants.  Hopefully these lessons will come come in to help when he is a starving student, his first job or first apartment and he will use his thrifting and bargaining skills to help make ends meet!  Back to my neighbour’s house, I thought the house would have sold in two days so far all I see is “for sale” not “sold.”  With all the money they have spent and fixed it up to perfection, the house is missing something so desperately needed in this high cost of housing world; a basement.  There is no basement making it difficult for any young couple coming in looking for a basement that can be suited to be rented out giving them extra income to help with the mortgage.   Most people will eww and ahhh at the sheer beauty of the house but the reality is everyone is accounting for every dollar and trying to stay out of ridiculous debt making a basement suite essential to this plan.   Should I win money tomorrow, not a huge amount of money, but just enough to cover some renovations in this house, I would invest in solar power.  I wouldn’t bother with a new kitchen or new flooring, I would invest in getting this house off the grid.  The amount of money invested upfront to install solar panels pays for itself after several years off the grid and I think between our basement suite, solar power and the raised vegetable beds I plan to plant in our yard, would go a along way in terms of the money I would get back should I sell the house.   My brother’s nick-name for me is tree-hugger, ironically I found this article in tree hugger about how Germany is leading the pack in a solar-powered nation leaving me wondering when North America will start leading with authenticity.   As for my neighbour, I wish her only the best and I hope that she sells  her house for what she wants and finds happiness in her new hood.  I’m sure she is looking forward to a new neighbour who is not a pain in her ass!