The Land of the Strays

It’s very easy to say ‘I love dogs’ when you’re talking about fluffy, perfect dogs. When you love a dog that does not necessarily look beautiful, then you love a dog.” Lya Battle

We live in a time when everything is expected to be perfect. Our houses are to be perfect, our cars are to be perfect, our bodies are to be perfect, our jobs are to be perfect and the list goes on and on.

Perfection is not possible and I often wonder why we want to be perfect. Personally, I find perfection boring and making simple decision becomes huge because one has to make sure their choices meet their standards of perfection. Perfection breeds unhappiness and if we look all around us we see it. The straight ‘A” student who can’t accept a ‘B’ because they are a straight ‘A’ student. Why can’t a straight ‘A’ student get a ‘B’. What if while writing that paper they were not feeling well or not rested enough or maybe something depressing happened in their lives and they simply were not themselves. Perfection leaves no room for rest, no room for dallying, no room for lingering coffee moments for no other purpose than “just because.” The student would learn so much more from that “B” paper than a “A” but society doesn’t see it that way. To put it simply, we are setting our children up for for failure.

Lya Battle knows that lack of perfection opens the door for humanity. She lives in Costa Rica and she is surrounded by furry beings that society has deemed not perfect. They are mutts, dogs tossed out into the streets by society. Some are missing legs others missing an eye but all have several things in common according to Lya; they are survivors, they are strong, they are intelligent and she is inspired by their resilience.

Costa Rica has an estimated two million stray dogs on the street and Lya has approximately eleven hundred of those stray dogs on her three hundred and fifty five acre farm. She battles the government, she battles her neighbours who will sneak on to her property and poison the dogs. Yet rather than have a hateful, negative attitude, she is inspired by the dogs. They speak to her heart and soul and for the cruelty and suffering that humans have put these dogs through, Lya has this to say: “The cruely and suffering of dogs doesn’t come from evil, it comes from ignorance, ignorance perpetuates rejection and ultimately abandonment and overpopulation. Ignorance can be changed, it just takes enough people to want to change it.” Lya started this change by inviting people to her no kill shelter of 1300 dogs to change one heart at a time. It’s hard not to look at these beautiful dogs and not have your heart changed. One heart changed is many hearts changed and as slow as it may be, one heart at a time is the road to change.

Perspective is misleading, it can lead you on a long travelled road only to realize when you reach the end of that road, you had it all wrong. Many in our western society want to breed the type of dog that meets their lifestyle, dogs that don’t shed, dogs that are the right height, dogs that don’t bark, dogs that aren’t too energetic. As I write this I’m shaking my head as it’s so ridiculous but many do that to their children too, they see their children in a certain light, obtaining a certain education, in a certain career,playing a certain sport and many parents put all these pressures on their children and never ask their children what it is they really want. Again, perfection breeds unhappiness to be perfect means that you are always trying to attain that state of perfection. It’s exhausting and what many don’t realize is that when you accept the mess, the ugly and the not so desirable and walk with that, your life changes, your heart grows, your soul embraces and you learn so much about the world and what your part is in this world.

For Lya it started with one dog, a stray that ended up on her doorstep. She took him in and named him Oso. However, Lya had four dogs already and she was determined that Oso would not be part of her life. She decided to find a home for him and she did find a home for him but every home she found, the adopters sent him back within two weeks. He went to seven homes and each time she heard the following complaints about him: Oso was not disciplined, Oso didn’t listen, Oso chased cats, Oso dug up the garden, Oso jumps the fence, Oso barks too much. Lya agreed this was true but she also recognized that these qualities that irritated everyone, were also the qualities that made him unique. He was unapologetic, a self-proclaimed ruler of the universe and for all those qualities, Lya held respect for Oso and after the seventh person rejected Oso, he became part of Lya’s family.

What Lya found was that Oso came with many headaches and problems but he also brought with him very profound lessons. The most important lesson was that sometimes doing the right thing pushes you so far out of your comfort zone, you might never find your way back. For Lya that was the birth of Territorio de Zaguates, Territory of the strays. She went from five dogs to eighty dogs in that house and then moved all the dogs to a farm with many acres and named it Territory of the Strays and today she has over a thousand stray dogs on that property. All are fed, all have been neutered and spayed, all receive yearly vaccinations and all are loved, not one dog is rejected.

In some ways we are all from the land of the strays as we search for our place and purpose on this earth. May we stop being so pushed to perfection and focus on what is in front of us in the here and the now. May we entrust in the beauty that is within us and not hesitate to share that beauty with all we meet. Our purpose on this earth is to share our souls with one another, we were never meant to hide behind a mask of perfection. Our path is to be unique and to always be our true selves. Being our true self is enough; at any given moment we are enough…

Johanne Fraser

Watch Lya on Ted Talk here:

The Land of the Strays

Website: Territorio de Zaguates

Territorio de Zaguates on utube

Note: Territorio de Zaguates has been temporary closed to upgrade for government regulations. Please check their website for updates about re-opening.


“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all” Aristotle

I recently read this story on one of the blogs I follow “find your Sanctuary.” Every week I receive these beautiful moments written by Terry Hershey where he preaches that we need a place to refuel, we need to rest, we need to pay attention, we need to breathe and we need to just be. In one of his weekly moments in my inbox this story was included: “A Zen Roshi is dying. All of the monks gather (an eagerness restrained) around the deathbed, hoping to be chosen as the next teacher. The Roshi asks slowly, where is the gardener? The gardener, the monks wonder aloud, he is just a simple man who tends the plants and he is not even ordained. Yes the Roshi replies, but his is the only one awake. He will be the next teacher.”

This story really spoke to me about society today. We live in a world where our senses are deadened by consistent noise. The noise comes at us in every waking moment and the result is that we never rest. Our minds and our beings are fuelled by self-sabotaging thoughts essentially berating ourselves that we are not good enough. Those thoughts are usually carried by society’s unrealistic goals of having a lot of money, owning the best car, the best house, the highest education, the best job, the right clothes and the right look. Writing that sentence exhausts me, we can’t possibly live up to all of those expectations. The reality is that not everyone has the same access to any one of the things I mentioned above and education is just one of them.

I work in education except as a teacher once told me, I’m one of the uneducated ones. I work in the field of support. I am an office manager in a high school and as a support worker, like all of my fellow support workers, we support every niche and cranny in that school. Just like support beams in a building that no one ever thinks about, we are the weight-bearing supports that bridge the values, policies and integrity of our counterparts and ultimately support the structural integrity of all. I would say that support staff are “awake” as we see all and we move between the shadows and understand that our work is done behind the scenes, often unrecognized and never credited.

The uneducated comment is true. In conversation with a teacher, she said that I was uneducated because I did not have a post secondary education, in other words, I did not have a degree, therefore she did not consider me educated. Limited thinking I would say and it concerns me that as an educator she feels that the measure of a human being’s worth is in the degree they obtain. My response to that comment is that I am educated and always will be educated as I believe education has nothing to do with the piece of paper one holds; I believe education is about being in a continual state of learning and that education is present in every moment and in every being we meet on our journey called life.

Like the monks in the story above, this teacher lost the lesson. Too busy worrying about the right car to drive, the right house to own and the right clothes to buy to establish the look only worthy of the educated. My question is this; what about the souls who can’t afford the same kind of education, or the souls who choose to work and educate themselves through experience, or the souls that by the time they work the three jobs they have to pay for their rent and their food simply don’t have the energy for education. Are they not smart or good enough to have what the educated have? It is interesting to me that in many cases of the elite ones, their parents paid their way and they have no idea what it’s like to pay their own way.

This is a sad commentary on society and I sincerely believe that the attitude that I wrote about above is the downfall we are seeing through the pandemic. It’s not necessarily the “educated” that has kept our economy rolling through this Covid. Yes the healthcare workers have continued to push through this difficult time and put themselves at risk as we all work through this global epidemic. However, the support workers of society, the unseen beams that support the structural integrity of society are working behind the scenes to ensure all have the essentials we need to get through this challenging time. The “blue collar” workers in the truck drivers, the grocery store employees, the department store employees all the employees that you can possibly think of who are working behind the scenes to keep this economy moving. It is this structural support that has put food on our table even when the pandemic was at its worst and people were fighting over toilet paper, cleaners, meat and anything else they considered essential; the workers of the world just kept slogging through the difficult times while many of us griped about working in the comfort of our homes protected behind our computers and zoom meetings without much thought of what some of our fellow human beings were facing.

Education has failed us as we have educated minds but we have failed to educate hearts. Personally, I can tell you the amount of times I have walked by educated ones who don’t have the time or day to say hello or a simple smile as they walk by, yet in the very next moment I see them nod and say hello to a member of the educated ones. I always share a private laugh because it is in the moments of grace that we learn the most. My work with a hospice has taught me about life as I work with souls transitioning from this life to the next and the most important lesson I have learned in life is from the lessons taught to me by hearts of the dying. No one talks about their education, their houses, their cars or their clothes as they face death. It is in this learning from the heart that I have gained the most profound lessons. Ironically, there is no fancy piece of paper that confirms my education, nor is there a document that says I am good enough to get a fancy job. However, as I continue to walk this journey called life, I have found the lessons I have learned from the heart journey with me as I step forward and place my foot on the solid foundation of the stepping stones before me. It is the message from each and every soul’s heart that I take with me on my chosen path forward.

Society preaches that the path I have chosen is the wrong path as there are no fancy riches on the path in front of me. Like the gardener the Roshi designated as teacher, it is in the simple things that we continue to ignore that there is so much to learn from. As long as we learn from the heart, teach from the heart and recognize that all souls have value, I don’t believe that this is the wrong path to take and I hope that I can be awake enough to ignore society’s pull to ideas and ideals that have nothing to to with matters of the heart.

Johanne Fraser


“To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.”  Buddha

It seems like my whole life I have watched people build a life of material objects to fulfill their happiness.  They will obsess over material things and get what they want only to be bored and move on to something else.  It’s not that I don’t value the material things in my life – I do.  However, the obsession with having the right look, the right car, the perfect furniture and the shallowness of thinking I am superior because of what I have in a material way has never been me.  My husband and I are blessed to be able to afford the house that we live in and I enjoy the fact that I have a roof over my head,  but when I really look around, I see four walls, four walls everywhere.  I don’t think this house represents  who I am as a whole person,  nor am I going to find some bliss of happiness by spending a ton of money to fix up the house to make it appear as if I live in the pages of magazine where surely no one could live happily as magazines display a perfect order an order I don’t believe exists.

The older I get the more I am simplifying my life.  I am simplifying my life in every way.  I eat simple, cook simple, play simple and love simple.  I follow paths of simplicity by simply enjoying nature, enjoying simple laughs with my children and my husband, casual conversations that don’t necessarily lead anywhere other than simple enjoyment of another person.  I want to take the time to get to know people, not what they do for a living, how much money they make or what kind of car they drive.  I really don’t care for any of that and the truth be known I find it incredibly boring.  I want to know what a person likes, what makes them laugh and who inspires them.

Interesting because in this social media frenzied world everyone is talking about how perfect their lives are and living with abundance but their interpretation of abundance is full of material things to make their life rich and abundant.  The truth is we could live with less than half of the material things we have and live an incredibly rich life.  The more we have the more baggage we carry and the more baggage we carry the less our spirit soars.

If you are thinking I have a house with hardly any material things, check yourself because I have way more material things than I need.  I live with my  husband, two children and  a mother-in-law, all who carry emotional baggage that translates into material objects.  I want it all gone and if I had my way I would back up my truck and trash it all, but I have to respect other people’s personal property and honour their wishes.  As time moves on and I have started to live in a more simplistic state, I am finding that slowly but surely the pack is following.  In the last five months my husband has been on a roll to get rid of his clutter and material baggage and my youngest is almost ready to give up the rest of his childhood toys that he no longer uses.  Matt and I have gone through his toys and gotten rid of most things but he is having  a hard time letting go of his lego – several huge boxes of lego.  I keep telling him that another child would be so happy to own this lego and he might as well let it go and make someone else happy.

A natural order as the energy flows from an older child down to a smaller child bringing both to a happier place.  My son doesn’t quite see it like that yet, he sees it as letting go of a period in his life that is gone and he’s holding on to that period with everything he’s got.  Slowly he is coming around as we talk about letting go and moving on, plus he sees that if he gets rid of all that lego, his personal space would open up giving him more room  and freedom for his paints, more room to draw and be creative using a different medium to broaden his artistic ability.

The shift is happening, we are all on the path to abundance through a  more simple life.  I also have to learn patience because the life shift is not happening fast enough for me but I know that shifts in lifestyle and attitude take time and in order for me to truly find abundance in simplicity, I have to respect everyones personal space and property.  A lesson in humility for me as I continue on this journey we call life..








Slow Cooker Apple Crumble

I’ve enjoyed having a few close friends over this Christmas – that is what Christmas is all about  – spending time with loved ones.  Between both boys there were three hockey tournaments over the Christmas holidays so most of my time has been spent driving across town, not leaving me a lot of time to prepare for  a dinner party.  Over the years I’ve learned a few short cuts and quick tips and I know my weakness.  I am no Martha Stewart when it comes to baking, decorating and presentation, so I rely on simplicity.  Simple place settings, simple drinks, simple desserts and lots of love!  Below is something I throw together and let it cook all afternoon in the slow cooker while I prepare the rest of dinner.  At the end of the day you have delicious apple  crumble and all you have to do is add ice cream.  Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays and spending precious time with family.
Slow Cooker Apple Crumble.
courtesy of: scattered thoughts of a crafty mom

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup cold butter cut into pieces
  • 4 to 6 large apples peeled cored and thickly sliced (you want about 6 cups)
  • 6 tbsp apple juice ( I didn’t have any apple juice, so  used 1 tbsp lemon juice and the rest water)


  1. In a large bowl, stir the flour, oats, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and nuts together until combined. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender, fork or hands until pea sized lumps are formed.
  2. Place the apple slices in the base of the slow cooker and add the apple juice. Sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over them.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. (make sure your slow cooker actually cooks on low- many of the newer ones actually run higher.  If your’s cooks hot, you may want to shorten the cooking time.)
  4. Serve warm with a scoop (or 2) of vanilla ice cream
  5. Enjoy!


full moon

embracing the early morning sky,

sensing the energy from the fullness

of the moon,

awaking from a deep sleep,

to the mesmerizing glow,

lifting me from the darkness,

giving me hope and promise,

seeing the aura of the trees,

absorbing their living energy,

feeling at one with the earth

and sky.

Johanne Fraser



“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.” – Maya Angelou

The other day I e-mailed my brother to share an article that I thought he would like.  The article was well written and funny and it reminded me of my older brother.  He emailed me back to acknowledge the article and inquire how we were all doing.  He then said something so simple and I’m sure he has no idea just how much this simple line touched me.  He said “I enjoy reading your blog, it’s good and you are a much nicer person than me – I feel humbled – lol!”  Kevin has been reading my blog since I started and he’s always been supportive of my writing.  Growing up, Kevin was my senior brother by seven years and I didn’t always feel that he was supportive of me or my ambitions.  To be quite honest when I was a young girl and a teenager I quite often thought he was an asshole and I’m sure he thought the same of me.  We didn’t get along, I always felt he pushed his weight around and he was in my face which made me push back and at times it could be explosive!  I drove him crazy, I knew it and knowing that I drove him crazy only encouraged me to get under his skin some more.  I can be like that,  if I feel negativity coming my way I tend to face it straight on with my head high and get in negativity’s face no matter what the consequence.

After reading that line in his e-mail, I realized how far we’ve come.  Acknowledging my writing and complimenting me erupted within me a feeling of satisfaction and made my day.  I realized at that moment as a young girl growing up under the weight of my big brother that I was looking for his support and craving his acceptance.  Looking back at our up-bringing I realized that Kevin and I were destined to be in an explosive sibling rivalry by the very nature of our family dynamics.  Our parents split up and divorced when I was eight and Kevin was 15.  The divorce was nasty and full of tension and anger leaving the children to fend for themselves on an emotional level.  I look at my 15-year-old son right now and what he is going through in terms of growing pains, hormones and emotions and then I think of my brother watching our father walk out the door and the emotional toll it took on our mother and I realize now why Kevin was such an asshole.  By nature most 15-year-old boys are assholes as they are trying to find their way and become young men.  Kevin was expected to be the man of the house and take care of his younger sister and brother.  My younger brother was pretty quiet about everything but I could be uncooperative at times and a sassy, quick-talking little bitch.  I’m sure that’s what my brother wanted at 15, to be responsible for two children who didn’t really want to be a part of the whole mess either.

Kevin was a good hockey player and he was a smart cookie in school.  My father coached hockey and coached Kevin up to that point.  My father gave up coaching, Kevin quit hockey and picked up a different group of friends which led him away from school and into endeavours that put him on a different path, a path that was the opposite direction of his former life.  It’s not for me to express my brother’s feelings, but I’m sure he was angry and I think that anger came out in so many different forms.  I’ve always  been able to channel people’s feelings and emotions and I know now that I was reacting to his anger.  Every single one of  my siblings reacted differently to the trials of our parents’ divorce and every single one of us have different feelings and versions of events.  Difficult really, places brother against brother, sister against sister and brother against sister.  Divorce doesn’t have to be that way but it was that way for our family.

As I sit here this morning writing this post, I am 3000 miles on the opposite coast of my siblings and I miss them.  I miss our bonds no matter how unpredictable and temperamental we all can be.  The truth of the matter is when I get together with my siblings I feel like I’ve come home, truly come home and I can be myself as I react to the constant banter and wise cracking comments between us.  I love the nature of our relationships and I wouldn’t trade our up-bringing or past experiences because I believe these experiences have shaped us into who we are.  A couple of years ago, Kevin and my sister-in-law, Sandra, flew to the west coast to spend some time with my family.  It was such a good visit, we had a lot of fun and Kevin and I talked about old times.  It was during this visit that a light came on for me as I realized all of our past trials and fights happened because Kevin and I are more alike rather than opposites as I believed growing up.  I guess you can say Kevin and I finally came home, home to a place of mutual respect and acceptance and realized we are both assholes!


As we head into the new year and everyone starts reviewing the past year and making new year’s resolutions,  I tend to frown upon living in the past or making resolutions that don’t necessarily work in a new year that presents different challenges and circumstances.    Tradition is another behaviour that I find contradictory to logical thinking.  Why do we bake ten pounds of cookies, stress ourselves out with decorating and seeing everyone we’ve known our whole life in a few days over Christmas?  Tradition – that’s why!  I stopped many of those traditions a few years ago – I visit people all year, I only bake one dessert for Christmas, I don’t over decorate and I spend precious time with my family.  However, there is one tradition that the boys and I adopted last year – football.  That tradition was born out of  a string of bad luck last Christmas.  It started last Christmas Eve with my youngest falling and opening up the back of his head for a few stitches.  Christmas day I discovered no hot water and a trip to the basement revealed that our hot water tank packed it in and then a few hours later the toilet in our main floor bathroom flooded, not only the bathroom, but down the wall to the basement as well.  I grabbed big bath towels to clean up the water and then changed into my sweats, picked up a football, called the boys and headed to the park. My dinner wasn’t ready, my table wasn’t set and I didn’t care – I wanted out.  The boys and I played football until the light was gone and we felt refreshed.  This year on Christmas morning  we opened our presents, I phoned  all of my siblings in Toronto and then the boys and I headed to the park.  The boys love it – I consider it time to bond with the boys, the boys consider it time to beat the shit out of mom!  However the boys see it – this is one tradition I plan to keep.

football collage


football freedom collageI struggled with this Friday’s phlog because of the events that unfolded yesterday in Ottawa and several days before Ottawa, the events in Quebec.  The attacks in Quebec and in Ottawa were devastating and tragic.  I read today that Rosie O’Donnell has been taking heat because of a comment she made on the View.  I don’t really care about Rosie’s opinion or any other celebrities’ opinion, but it’s interesting how desensitized we have become.  Her comment is in support of another inappropriate tweet – “I think she’s saying: I’m an American, I live here. I see two people shot this week in Canada and the entire country of Canada is in mourning. However, in America this happens on a daily day basis and we don’t even pay attention anymore.”  I get what she’s saying, American’s have been dealing with this on a larger scale than Canadians.  We have had our public shootings in schools, malls but not even close to the amount in the USA.  What Rosie doesn’t get is whether it’s two or ten soldiers dying in their own country, killed by their own countrymen who have been blessed to live in a free and democratic country that welcomes people from near and far with open arms, is a tragedy.  Any life lost is a tragedy.  The attack of a soldier standing on guard to protect the honour of our fallen heroes in our Nation’s capital by definition is against our core values, moral standards and freedoms.  The same holds true for the soldiers run over by a radical extremist person in Quebec.  Both soldiers were exercising their simple freedoms of walking in a public area.  How Rosie can be so insensitive toward her neighbour during a difficult time is beyond  me.  This is not a time to be a self-centred attention driven media diva, it is time to unite as one in the name of democracy.  Leaving Rosie’s comments aside I found it uplifting  to watch the dedications across America from Obama to hockey games to talk shows,  all expressing their grief in the attack against democracy.  As well, I found it hopeful for humanity to learn that private citizens ran towards the gun fire, in Ottawa yesterday, to help a fallen soldier even though there was every possibility they were in immediate danger.   I chose the pictures above because to me it represents our freedoms in a democratic country.   The simple game of high school football, something we take for granted.  The truth of the matter is our children have the freedom to play this game  no matter the colour of their skin or whom they call their God because of men like Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Officer Patrice Vincent.   The top picture of my youngest son holding his teammates’ hands showing solidarity and strength before their game represents all people who are standing in unity in this fight for democracy.


“We take it for granted we know the whole story – we judge a book by its cover and read what we want between selected lines.”

Axle Rose

As I stood at the counter listening to “Rita” tell the couple before me the rules and regulations of the campground, I couldn’t help but feel anxious and annoyed.  As I moved toward the counter to book my site, Rita flashed me a big smile and she was missing her two front teeth.  “Great,” I thought, “this campground looks like its seen it’s days and so has Rita – been around the block I’m sure.”  I put down my visa and barely listened to what she was saying and back to the trailer I went.  In fairness to Rita I was really annoyed with my husband and I was taking it out on Rita by being withdrawn and moody.  I wasn’t myself and in fairness to me, it had been a particularly long day.

I woke up that morning to the sound of the truck moving under the trailer to hitch up.  Drew poked his face in the door and said, “wake up baby we’re out of here.”  My hair was all over the place and after not sleeping for three nights I had finally fallen asleep in the wee hours of the morning and I was deep into it.  Half asleep, I stumbled down the stairs out of the upper bunk and I threw on some pants, shirt and shoes and made my way to the truck where I crashed as Drew drove out of Barkerville.   We decided to drive from Barkerville to Kamloops and spend a night and then head to Cranbrook the next  morning.  By the time we reached Kamloops we had been driving for about six hours.  We had no reservations in Kamloops and to our surprise we couldn’t find a campground in the heart of Kamloops.  I kept telling Drew to stop and ask someone but he refused, kept driving in circles.  Finally, I insisted he stop and he turns to me and says – “why stop, I find these locals useless?”   I said “ok – keep driving in bloody circles and see where that gets us – talk about useless.”  He finally stops and we find out there is a campground  two minutes from us and the campground is attached to a wild animal reserve park.  As we drive I see a big sign for a campground and an animal reserve park that says that the campground is just a few miles down the road. Drew suddenly makes a sharp turn because he sees this run down campground on his right and heads there.  “Where are you going, the campground is a few more miles.”  I don’t think he even heard me as he drives straight into this campground that is essentially the kind of campground we’ve all driven by and say to ourselves “thank God I’m not staying there.”   Drew pulls up, jumps out talks to Rita and then comes back to the truck and says, “go pay Rita – $36.00 for the night and it includes hot showers, full hook-up.”  I was stunned, he didn’t even talk to me just grabbed it.  I was about to say something or more like I was about to have a huge fight with my husband and I looked over to see Rita standing near.   I didn’t want to be rude so I shut my mouth and walked to the office.

After I paid for the site, Rita says to me “check out is 11:00 am but feel free to stay as long as you need tomorrow.”  “If you need to sleep in, sleep in she says, I don’t push people out of here, I want them to feel like they’re at home.”  I have to admit she sounded very sincere and as I walked away I was feeling guilty for thinking so harshly.   I mentioned in Negative Ways Baby that I hadn’t had a shower in four days as the showers in Barkerville campground were $1.00 per minute for a cold shower.  I boiled water and sponged bathed in the trailer instead.  I was dying for a hot shower and Rita told me that she doesn’t charge for showers and that her bathrooms are squeaky clean as she believes in pure hospitality.   “Clean bathrooms and free showers is something I can give from my heart,” she says.   The first thing I do upon entering the trailer is grab a change of clothes, soap, shampoo, towel and head to the bathroom.  The bathrooms were located right beside the trailer and housed in a mobile trailer.  The first thing I noticed upon entering the bathroom was that I could probably lick the floors they were so clean and the same cleanliness was applied to the sinks, the toilets and the showers.  The shower was lined with a cute shower curtain giving it a bit of a homey feeling.  I dump my shower stuff on the counter and I notice by the back of the sink Rita put little china knickknack flowers, just like the ones my mother use to leave in her bathroom.  I jump into the shower, not only is the shower hot, it is hot from the moment that you turn the shower on and no timer to turn the shower off.  Not having a full shower for four days, this shower felt like I was in heaven.   I was singing and praising the name Rita while I was in the shower.

That evening we had plans to visit some friends who are now living in Kamloops.  We head over to their house and the first thing Kathy says to me upon greeting her is, “are you staying in the wild life reserve campground?”  “No, we are staying in a little gem just down the hill from there, you know the one by the train tracks and it’s a mix of mobile homes and trailers.”  The look on Kathy’s face was priceless and she says “Oh God you’re staying there?”  “Ger,” she says, they are staying at the campground down the hill, you know the older campground?”   I could tell what Kathy really wanted to say was,  “you know, the ones on the other side of the tracks.”   The look that passed between Kathy and her husband said, “are you two crazy?”  “Well I said, Rita keeps some pretty decent showers and clean bathrooms and right now I’m grateful to be staying somewhere with hot and free showers.”  The conversation turns to the boys and what we’ve all been doing for the past few months and no more is mentioned about the campground.  We got back to the campground after midnight and all was quiet.  Slowly and quietly we made our way to bed and we all crashed and fell asleep before our heads hit the pillow.  With all the negative feelings I had in Barkerville and no sleep, I was finally in a better frame of mind and welcomed the peaceful sleep.  About two in the morning I woke up to a rumble and I wasn’t sure what the sound was, I could feel it more than hear it, the ground seemed to be moving and then I realized it was a train coming through and that damn train sounded as if it was going right through the campground.  One of the houses we lived in when I was a kid was not far from the train tracks.  Not quite as close as the tracks by the campground,  but I could hear those trains at night when I was a little girl.   I learned to use the rhythms of the train to help me sleep and as the train passed our trailer park the rhythms of the tracks lulled me back to sleep and I did not wake up until the next morning, refreshed and ready to go.

I dropped by to see Rita the next morning to tell her we were on the move and thank her for her hospitality.  I ended up having a half hour conversation with Rita and as I was leaving she called out, “I hope all you folks drop  by here again if you ever come back by this way.”  I called out “for sure Rita, if I’m heading through this town again, I’ll stop in to see you, your showers are to die for.”   With that comment she gave me a huge smile showing me the gap in her mouth where she’s missing her two front teeth and I realized I quite liked Rita, I like a woman who is who she is, been around the block and back and she’s not afraid to show it.   Her book cover might be a little rough, worn and weathered, but her inner pages are filled with warmth, honesty and generosity.

campsite in kamloops