Angel Wings (Feb, March, April & May 2016)

As many of you know, I love rainbows and angels, as featured on my Festival posters. Last fall, on a cold, sunny day, I went outside to do something when Danny, one of the crew at the Retreat Center said, “Look up, ice crystals are making a rainbow in the clouds.” I looked up, then rushed back to the lodge and got my camera. I snapped several images as the colors faded and the cloud dispersed.

Months later, as I looked at the many possible photographs for a front cover, I hesitated, wondering if the rainbow colors would show up. Computers use light to show images, while printers use four colors of ink, which creates darker images. I thought to myself … one angel wing does not look very interesting, so I copied and reversed it and put the two halves together. That’s when the image of the tree became the head of the angel, with eyes, a nose and even arms. I was elated.

Mother Nature was showing me that indeed I do have a celestial angel looking after us, proof positive for those who think I am crazy because I hear their voices. I am glad Doreen Virtue and others now talk openly about angels, as it has allowed this part of me to be more bold. For the longest time, angels were mostly stained-glass images in churches and only the clergy could have that connection.

When I do distribution, l drop magazines off in the town of Hope, well known for the many large carvings that decorate the landscape. My attention was drawn to some angel wings on the sidewalk, right downtown, with words that said Stairway to Heaven. It had four small steps with a set of foot prints at the top to place your feet in. I thought I would try the wings on for size and they fit perfectly, so I asked a passerby to click a few pictures with my cell phone. It was time to change my image, so I hope you will enjoy seeing the real me behind the rainbows I wear.

If you want to see my favorite angel wing picture, go to the Issues website and click the Musing tab at the top, it has 25 years of front covers along with my blog. That photo was taken of me sitting in front of the angel wing doors that lead into the Great Hall at Findhorn in Scotland. We were there for our honeymoon in 2006 as we wanted to learn more about intentional communities, which I feel are needed in Canada. I have told my angels they have only a few years left to manifest this vision as I continue to find ways to attract people with the skills and money to take over the Retreat Center. This is an ideal setting for a group of six people, younger than I, who are vegetarians, spiritually minded and can work together.

In the winter, I spend more time on my computer and we take the time to watch a few videos on the big screen. This year we watched all six episodes of Star Wars, in order. Now I will be able to connect the dots when I see episode seven. I enjoyed the director’s comments as he envisioned the saga, the struggles and the technology that was not yet invented. Hearing how strongly influenced he was as a student of Joseph Campbell’s mythology class made sense. He even got Joseph to go over the story line.

When Star Wars hit the big screen in 1977, I was married and living in Terrace. I was spell-bound with the dramatics of this fast-moving world of weird-looking creatures and fascinated that Luke Skywalker was being taught to use his intuitive sense. Afterwards, when outside the theatre a friend asked me what I thought of the movie, I said without blinking, “There is life on this planet.” This was not a thought process, it was my angels talking.

Part of me wanted to find these New-Agers who believed in ‘the force’ but I had little kids and a husband who was a truck driver, and I was busy with chickens and a garden. Just knowing these people existed gave me a feeling of hope. In Terrace, even being involved in our organic food co-op seemed out of the social norm. Around that time, I remember protesting when Canada sanctioned aspartame as a food. Back then, I did have inklings that my real job would be to educate those who did not know the truth about many things, and that it would just be a matter of time.

I have asked myself a few times how many people really believe in Nature devas, angels or the power of prayer. Do we create our reality so that our soul can learn to be whole and balanced? Do our bodies have a wisdom that our mind can’t relate to? Are our minds more powerful than we can comprehend? Most of you have probably heard the quote by Marianne Williamson that it is not our darkness that most frightens us but our light, our greatness. If we are all One, then we are a collective, each contributing energy to what happens on this planet and beyond. The stars, the invisibles, past-life vibrations, microbes, etc. are creating this all-inclusive, complex flow of energy we call life.

In early January an email gave me hope that we are at the tipping point. It said Monsanto is going to be on trial at a Human Rights Tribunal in The Hague, charged with fraud, depletion of soil and water resources, species extinction and declining bio-diversity, and the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide. Then I noticed the trial date was October 16 of this year, International World Food Day. Maybe I’d better check the facts. Yes, it is happening, but the mainstream press says it will be more about theatrics than politics. Still, the charge is being led by Vandana Shiva, an internationally respected Indian scholar, environmental activist and anti-globalization author. She will be joined by an alliance of organic, food sovereignty and environmental groups. I send her and those groups a blessing of support.

Even the WHO’s new classification of glyphosate, the active ingredient in a widely-used brand of Monsanto herbicide, as a 2A product or “probable” carcinogen was more watered down than I had hoped. This newer definition is for those who use it, not those who eat it. This reminds me of the bumper sticker that says, “It will be a great day when the schools get all the money they need and the air force has to have a bake sale to buy a bomber.” Let’s keep envisioning Monsanto letting go of their horde of lawyers and cleaning up the many hazardous waste sites they have created, plus no more farmers or governments buying ten billion dollars’ worth of their chemical products.

In the Star War movie, villain Darth Vader has a change of heart. It is my hope that Monsanto will too, for they like to portray themselves as an agricultural hero, a friend of farmers and a savior of the global South. Like Luke Skywalker though, we each have to learn what truth feels and looks like.

Buckminster Fuller once said, “To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” I know how frustrating it is to grow food because the weeds always seem to win, but we need to work with nature and micro-organisms. We need to go back to live foods like yogurt and sauerkraut so our internal bacteria can keep us healthy.

Farmers need support. Doing it the easy way using weed killer has taken its toll. Many a family farm has been sold to the corporations because the children did not have the interest or the skills to make a living looking after the land. Chemicals have now destroyed the agricultural bio-diversity that has served mankind for thousands of years. With more people to feed and less useable land, food and land prices will just keep increasing till the masses can no longer afford either.

Truth and love are as real as my one angel wing in the sky. Real change happens from the ground up, until it reaches a critical mass or the tipping point. I think the yang energy that likes holding power over others while exploiting the Earth’s resources is in decline. These days, the feminine or yin principle is becoming stronger. Women are feeling empowered and speaking up. They know about raising kids and caring for all creatures. Children raised in a nurturing environment where inner guidance is reinforced will have a profound and far-reaching effect that will transform our future. Once one learns to feel the truth, as in the Avatar movie, The Matrix, or even the Harry Potter series, the old programming and society’s rules of conduct will fade and be replaced by a new model of understanding.

Like the cosmos, we are not dead matter but a living presence. Reflection or meditation will help quicken the revolution in human consciousness. Many amazing websites reflect this cultural change. New souls coming onto this planet will continue to raise the quality of vibration that the masters and gurus of the East have gifted us with. The voice we all have and hear from within will continue to expand as people like me explain how they hear or use invisible energy.

Once we accept our greatness, in all its craziness, the world will change. We are more powerful than we realize. If I had not listened to my inner voices oh so long ago, you would not have an Issues magazine to read and I would not have a life worth living. Thank you to the many who support Issues and the Festivals for the past twenty-five years. You are helping to create the change you want to see in the world.

I would love to meet you at one of the many Festivals that happen this summer. Come to Johnson’s Landing for a restorative holiday, away from the bustle of the city, so you can restore your chi and return refreshed to do the work you do. The Issues website has been updated, if you subscribe, you will get notice when the new Issues has been posted. The online version now includes some added bonus pages.

Summer Days at the Retreat Center (Oct – Dec 2015 & Jan 2016)

The cover shows the last hot days of summer as the Wise Women’s Festival was about to start at Johnson’s Landing. Our cat was lounging near the Buddha statue on the deck of the lodge and in the background, the mountains are hazy because of the many fires burning. About 30 ladies showed up from around BC and AB and each was delighted when it rained, clearing the smoke from the atmosphere, making breathing easier.

Magic happens at every Festival, which is the reason I keep hosting them. Each person hears or receives answers they are seeking. The presenters have much knowledge that they share openly and honestly, and I find that networking and being with like-minded souls increases my ability to thrive in this challenging world.

By the time you read this, we will have completed our second Wise Women’s Festival in Penticton. Since we did not actually host it last year because of the closure of Naramata Centre, it feels like we are starting anew. We are now at the Shatford Centre, with the date moved forward a week, to the beginning of October. Those adjustments have had a ripple effect on the women who often attend. Next year I will move the festival back to the last weekend in September, but for this year, I assume I need a slower pace and will enjoy whatever happens. My angels, devas and weather dragons take very good care of me and I trust they know what needs to happen. Whether I am looking after the garden, cooking nutritional meals for retreats or working on the computer to create another issue of the magazine, it is good that I enjoy the variety of tasks I get to perform each day. Seeing how much I can fit into one day, and knowing that what I do is of benefit for our planet, keeps me inspired to do more.

The year 2015 has been a year of learning how much energy it takes to sustain the many projects I am involved with. I organize the garden about the same way I organize the festivals. Each year I expect that the basic set-up should take less effort as we refine what we tried the year before. I am learning more about permaculture and restorative agriculture because it makes sense. I keep experimenting with ways to make the soil fertile. Using bags of fertilizer has never appealed to me, even if the fertilizer is natural. I have included a book review on page 25 so you can better understand what a food forest is. Food forests look after themselves once they are established, providing food free for the picking. By contrast, annual crops take more effort and deplete the soil if tilling is involved.

This summer I got to spend five days of deep contemplation while digging out Bindweed with a garden fork. I had noticed the pretty flowers the year before growing from under a heavy wood frame that was on top of some landscaping fabric. My son warned me what a terrible weed they are, but did I believe him? Bindweed is similar to Morning Glory and Horsetail: once they are in the ground, they are hard to eradicate because their spongy root system breaks when you pull on them, allowing the root to send up new shoots a few weeks later. This marathon dig-out was needed so that the Bindweed would not take over the lower garden and then invade my neighbour’s yard.

Another decision I made was to allow the chickens to take over the upper garden. This spring, I felt defeated by the amount of weeds and raspberry runners that moved halfway across the circle. After some self-talk, I reassured myself that the ground is more fertile than when I arrived and the new owners will have ideas of their own.

This winter we will advertise further afar, hoping to find the right people to continue with our vision of a vegetarian, spiritually-minded retreat center as a refuge from the busyness of life. We also decided that we will host only four festivals next year plus the two in Penticton so that we have time to complete the many projects that Richard has started.

Running this retreat center takes 4-5 people. This year, we operated with 3 plus a variety of volunteers, so we maintained our sanity. If you would like to learn about permaculture-style gardening and/or help out with the festivals next year, please email me. I know that each person comes into our lives for a reason or a season. Often I get to see aspects of myself that I wasn’t real clear about without their perspective. Since change can only come from within, it is good that I take time to reflect on what automated patterns I may have that no longer serve me. I ask myself, “What would a wiser choice look like?” Then I can plan a new response or strategy the next time a similar feeling or happening occurs.

Medical intuitive Brenda Lainof recently did a phone reading for me. Half-way through the session, she asked, “What happened to you at 15 years of age?” She explained that she saw my spirit leaving my body as I took on a pattern of being too responsible. I told her about my mom’s accident and that I looked after my four brothers while she was in the burn unit of a Vancouver hospital for nine months. Brenda then cut the psychic cords to remove the shock of my mom almost dying and the stickiness from my energy field of wanting to be a “good girl.” I realized that not wanting to let people down and continuing with projects past the due date is a good pattern to review.

I also enjoyed an interview Brenda did with Dr. Leonard Coldwell, a German medical doctor who has written 19 books to educate us about many things I know to be true. We can take good care of ourselves if we are willing to educate ourselves. The hands of the school system and the government are tied because of kickbacks from corporations that make lots of money from our un-wellness. Check out the radio talk shows listed at the bottom of Brenda’s website.

Time is so elusive … it seems like yesterday that spring sprang, and not long ago since I moved from the Okanagan to the Kootenays, where I have had more opportunities to connect with nature. Nature heals herself and us too if we allow it. Growing research confirms the health benefits of getting outside. Kids and adults who spend time in nature are healthier, happier, more creative, less stressed and more alert than those who don’t.

As a farmer, I have learned that if the soil is not healthy, how can it provide food that is? So much of what is in the supermarkets today looks like food but we are learning that this is not the case. Hence the fight to have GMOs labelled. See the article by Thierry Vrain on page 28. Did you know that most countries in the world ban the use of bleach for whitening flour or being sprayed on meat? The practice of spraying meat was introduced because of the E.coli scare several years ago. I could fill this column with concerns I have, but at least now I hear and read stories about people who are standing up to the corporations, including native Indians on both continents who are refusing to let corporations take what is not theirs.

I am hoping you slow down this winter and find some time to hibernate, as I intend to do, as is the nature of things. It is good to renew our energy reserves so that come spring, we are ready for another busy season of growth.

New Spring Festivals Location (Jun – Sep 2015)

The cover photo shows Theresa Lee teaching her Planetary Gong workshop in the Group Room of the Retreat Center. I assume you know that everything vibrates, be it a table or a rose. Vibrational energy contributes to our well-being, and every thought has a vibration. Be it a low or high vibe, each of us influences the next. As we tune in to the natural harmonics of the Earth, moon, sun and planets, the gongs or singing bowls resonate the frequency needed to find harmony and balance the energy levels in our bodies. For many, many years, Therese LaForge has brought her crystal bowls to the Naramata festivals. At Johnson’s Landing we had both her precious singing bowls and Theresa’s Planetary gongs, so it was an uplifting vibrational weekend for all of us.

Since I can no longer rent the Naramata Centre, we decided to split the Spring Festivals into two events, one in Penticton and one at Johnson’s Landing Retreat where I live. Richard just completed the inside of the dome, giving us a fourth workshop space. Shatford Centre in Penticton has six rooms for workshops, so in total, the two locations provided the ten workshops that the Naramata Festival was famous for. It feels like the Festival Devas want the magic to continue and even grow as we split it into two venues. Still way too many choices at any given time, but that seems to be the point. How does one choose with so much abundance?

This is my reflection for I am a 7 on the Enneagram, an Epicure who enjoys many tastes and life experiences. A 7’s lesson in life, according to the Enneagram, is to stay focused on doing a few things well, which I think I do. This is my 25th year of publishing Issues and 27th year of organizing these very special festivals. I started Issues to promote the Spring Festival of Awareness and network my ideas of wellness. Learning a publishing program in those days was a challenge, but it was made easy by having the right people show up in my life at the right time.

Educating myself and listening to my angels has served me well. As my body ages, it needs more time to recharge. I am slowing down and have found committed people, so the festival continues. Without Marion, my registration lady, the festivals would have stopped a while ago. Sunnaira does a great job overseeing the Healing Oasis in Penticton. Margaret, Rita, Perry and Bernice worked many more hours than expected, setting up and decorating. They also stayed for take-down along with Rhonda and Verna. Even Karen showed up for an hour on Friday afternoon adding her festive touch to the various altars, allowing them to radiate their beauty.

I am thankful that so many enlightened presenters said yes to my invitation to pass along their knowledge via the many workshops. I am thankful to the many volunteers and healers who made the space inviting and to the attendees who make it financially possible … kisses to you all.

Being at Naramata for 26 years allowed me the opportunity to learn to do it better each time. Renting the Shatford Centre this year took a bit more figuring out, including providing the food. I have noticed that when I complain about something I usually get a chance to do it myself. Over the years I complained about Naramata’s spongy bread, bland muffins and mini pizzas, etc., I was told the Centre was a commercial operation and had to buy from their suppliers. The cooks did their best preparing Buddha Salads and other vegetarian dishes and most folks appreciated whatever was served, but I wanted better quality. This year, I got the opportunity to provide food the way I wanted it. I served lots of our home-grown, organic squash and potatoes, along with bread from the Kaslo Sourdough Bakery, who fresh-grind the wheat to make flour and Just Pies famous rice bread. As I drove from the Kootenays to Penticton, I stopped at roadside stands and bought over 30 dozen fresh chicken eggs. It was a pleasure working with cooks who love preparing nutritious meals that use few dairy ingredients. Seeds, nuts, eggs and hemp hearts provided the protein.

Creating a functional Healing Oasis was like creating a sand mandala. After it is enjoyed, it is destroyed. My crew arranged the artists’ easels that were in the room into several rows. We adjusted the wood braces so they were six feet in the air and placed electrical conduit on the braces to hold the curtains. In this way, we were able to divide the large room into separate massage rooms.

I bought smaller tables for the Angel Altars as their Great Hall is not as large as Naramata’s. I had stopped dragging the heavier crystals and statues from Johnson’s Landing some time ago, and with smaller tables, the medium-sized crystals were perfect. Crystals are conduits for vibrational currents, which is why they are used in computers. They are beautiful and as important as the flowers that grace our Earth. The Quan Yin and Buddha tables were in the hallway and the main altar was at the top of the entrance stairs. Both jesters enjoyed the bright lights and connected with the many souls seeking enlightenment. If you would like to see pictures of the event, turn to page 23 in the flip or back portion of this magazine.

Next year we will be ready to expand a bit more, but I was happy with the number of attendees for both festivals. From now on, the Spring Festival in Penticton will be on the first weekend in May and the Wise Women’s Festival will take place on the first weekend in October. At Johnson’s Landing, the Spring Festival will happen on the second weekend in May, and Wise Women’s on the last weekend in August. I have also created a summer festival called the Rejuvenation Festival that will happen July 24-26 this year. Details on the flip side.

The Shatford Centre used to be Pen High, the old high school. It feels like a national treasure, like Naramata Centre used to be. Instead of it being ripped down, a group of dedicated individuals are making good use of it. Soon the commercial kitchen will be complete, which means that local growers will be able to make products that can be sold because they are produced in a legal setting. It is good that the people of Penticton claimed the building for the common good. Learning to share our resources makes us sustainable as a culture and provides more than mere profit.

At Johnson’s Landing, we welcome community-minded people year-round and I was delighted when many people arrived just in time to unpack my van from the Penticton festival. I wasn’t sure we needed that much help, but I trusted that my angels know best and in the end, it was perfect. They readied the back kitchen, cleaned counters and moved the couch and carpets so the front room could be turned into a large dining area. Richard completed the dome just in time so that Bernadette could wash the wood floor. Alannah cleaned cabins and made beds, Kate and Jordon cooked. Doug, who lived here many years ago, hooked up the new water system in the campground and did other vital chores. Danny mowed the lawns and put sawdust in the outhouses while Francis continued to put a deck on our new gazebo. Even Barbara and her baby showed up to greet the guests and instructors. Earlier in the year, my son Dale installed solar systems for both the dome and the campground.

I feel deep gratitude for the 40 people – instructors, healers, participants and volunteers – who showed up to allow the magic to happen at the Johnson’s Landing event. The Planetary gongs were the hit of the day for me. I could feel the power vibrate through me, which allowed me to get up early and stay up late. I even participated in Saturday night entertainment, signing a favourite song, Ghost Riders. The words seem so apropos: change your ways or with us you will ride.

My ride feels like a loaded toboggan zooming in the air after the last bump. Life continues to be eventful as Richard and I share our journey, connecting with so many like-minded people. I hope you will come and check out our Labyrinth and newly completed dome, with or without a festival.

Young visitors from Waldorf School (Feb – May 2015)

Last summer, a class of Waldorf students came to visit the Retreat Center. They enjoyed seeing the bees, chickens, tipis, garden and sweat lodge. They played with our kittens and ran around the lawn. If children have the opportunity to play in nature it brings out their creative spirit and teaches them to be innovative in a way that video screens don’t. Children raised in the country or who attend alternative schools like Waldorf think differently than do kids whose amusement is provided to them ready-made rather than created by their imagination. They learn to think outside the box and to make decisions young in life, which will increase their self-esteem. If we are to evolve out of the crisis we are currently in, we are going to need these qualities in future generations.

Not only nature but the web provides a river of conscious ideas that I find exhilarating to explore. Lots of education is available that one must sort through, but I find the information worth the time. There is lots to know about processed foods, vaccines made with dangerous preservatives and even that despite the convenience cell phones and wifis offer, they could be overwhelming fragile bodies. Many organizations are asking the World Health Organization to classify EMFs as a Group 1 health risk, similar to smoking. And as you know, cigarette companies fought long and hard not to have them labeled as cancer causing, but eventually the truth won out. I am thankful I can go to a restaurant that is not filled with smoke. Since EMF cannot be seen, it will need even more regulations.

If you have time to visit the Kootenays this summer, check out our events listed in the flip section. Stay at our new campground while attending the Spring Festival of Awareness in May. Perhaps you’d like to combine Star Belly Jam with some hiking, healing work or a workshop. Richard’s dream of having the Dances of Universal Peace will become a reality in July. This is an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to join in a meditative dancing practice.

In December I planted the last of the garlic late because some of the orchard grass grew large, and it was slow digging as the grass roots were entwined with the potatoes. Eventually, Richard came in with his small excavator and loosened the ground so we could finish the weeding. The second hard frost of the season was coming, so I covered the ground with plastic. When the weather warmed up and the bits of snow melted, I got a chance to finish the job!

The plastic kept the soil from freezing hard and magnified the heat of the winter sun. By noon each day, it was warm enough to dig and it was lovely to be out in the sun. Soon however, I realized how cold my knees were, so the second and third day I wore knee pads. I also know that getting any part of the body cold is not good, as my body type is Yin deficient in Chinese medicine, but I wanted to finish the project rather than waiting for spring, so I got to learn a few lessons.

First lesson … Get more cardboard sooner and don’t allow the grass to get a foothold. We had bought 10 tons of hay to use as mulch last year, not realizing that it was not as clean of seeds as it had been the previous year. As you can see in the background, there are layers of cardboard. The grocery store appreciates that they do not have to take it to recycling and I appreciate that cardboard does not have orchard grass seeds and can be used like mulch. I call these flattened boxes my earthworm hotels, as their shelter encourages the worms to lay eggs and the babies will eat the mushy cardboard once they hatch. Lots of worms create lots of castings, which is great for growing healthy plants. If you want to learn more about my effective way of gardening with worms and cardboard, read the ad on page 23 as I will be presenting a pre-workshop demonstration before the Biochar workshop with Gloria Flora, a soul-sister whom I am excited to bring to BC.

Second lesson … that the cold affects me more deeply than I realized. Planting garlic for two and half hours a day, for three days, and not taking the time to get myself deeply warmed afterwards, resulted in the heat that was in my knees moving into my bladder via the kidney meridian. My knees and lower legs stayed cold and would not warm up, while my bladder got over-heated. When the ‘needing to go pee feeling’ got intense I went to the clinic for an urinanalysis, thinking it might be an infection, but it was not. I called my Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor who reminded me that I am Yin-deficient and gave me several acupuncture sessions and some herbs to move the chi back into its proper channel. I continue to have an oil heater in my office so my knees stay real warm.

Thirty years ago when I first got acupuncture, my doctor said I was working too hard, so I told him I had never worked a day in my life, to which he replied… then you play too hard… and the light bulb went on. For balance, we need equal yin and yang but the meaning changes depending on what they are in relation to, so I find it complex to understand. Since I have the type of personality and an occupation that does not separate work and play and enjoy what I do, even the deadlines, I find it is easy not to always listen to my body.

In case you have not heard of Yin or Yang, Yin is ruled by the kidneys and cools the body so that it maintains a constant temperature. The adrenals feed the kidneys and once they are exhausted many people drink coffee or eat chocolates to keep themselves stimulated, which will eventually drain Kidney Yin if too much is taken. Herbs that boost Yang energy, like Ginseng, will dry out the kidney fluids. I avoid most stimulates including spicy foods so that helps to maintain my energy levels. I am learning to do less, but it is not easy when you have a strong mind that wants to finish a project.

I think I have more energy than most folks my age, generally because I use Traditional Chinese Medicine and take their advice to heart. I drink lots of good quality water, wear a vest to stay warm, eat a moderate diet and go to bed early. Being in nature is nurturing and builds yin energy. Being in the garden keeps me both fit and grounded. Which reminds me, I got talked into buying one of the grounding sheets, see article on page 19. I’m glad I did as it helped me sleep much deeper even with the extra heat in my bladder and it continues to do so.

Chinese medicine has been around for over 5,000 years. It treats syndromes and conditions related to too much yin or yang energy in the body rather than focusing on specific diseases that Western medicine has given names to, like diabetes or acne. Allopathic medicine has its place, but my deepest wish is for Canada to have integrated health facilities like the ones they have in Asia and certain parts of Europe. In such facilities, you find many different kinds of medical practitioners all working under one roof, helping people stay healthy so they can be productive members of society.


Garlic Festival (Oct – Dec 2014 & Jan 2015)

The cover photo features the 20th annual Garlic Festival held in New Denver every September. If you noticed the Johnson’s Landing Retreat Center banner over one of the booths, it was because we were there selling garlic. We are certified Kootenay Mountain Grown, having joined a group of farmers who use organic farming methods.

We are now preparing for winter, so I am layering the garden with cardboard and straw to suppress the weeds and provide food for my earthworms. I have to smile at myself and my angels at the amount of time it takes to do this. Working in the garden sure has increased my appreciation for the culture and ecology of our soil and the creatures that make life possible for us humans.

When I lived in Penticton, I composted all the carrot pulp from The Juicy Carrot restaurant as I have always recycled. A lady friend who was more into gardening than me at the time brought over a bucket full of earthworms to quicken the process. When I moved to Johnson’s Landing, the first thing Richard did was transport a trailer full of this carrot pulp loaded with earthworms that we put in the upper garden. A year later, I got to see first-hand the good work they did aerating the gravel-like soil.

Then the World of Worm Castings in Kelowna decided to advertise in Issues. The owner taught me the basics that she had given in many school-aged children’s tours. Then, five years ago, a man came to the Retreat Center and offered me some of his worms, about the same time we had a volunteer already practicing vermi-composting, so I decided to ‘give it a try.’ He got the bin ready so that when I returned home from distribution with a bucketful of red wrigglers, my worms had a place to live. I had found a book at the second-hand store called Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof, a soil scientist from Kalamazoo, MI. Even Pete Seeger had something to say about the benefits of worms on the back cover of Mary’s book. Well … one thing does lead to another, and today I have worm bins on display and love talking to anyone who is interested. In October, I will move them into the basement for the winter.

Black Press, the company that prints Issues, gives me as much shredded paper as I can take home. The ends are cut off when Issues is stapled and make a good bed for the worms that they will eat if there are not enough food scraps. The tricky part is figuring out how much water is needed to wet the paper. Did you know that worms breathe through their skin, which is why after a rain they crawl out of the ground and on to the roads and sidewalks? If they didn’t, they would drown. I guess a lot of kids already know this.

Back to the bigger picture and the time it takes to pick up cardboard in Kaslo: I do this because I empty my worm bins in the garden twice a year and red wrigglers are not as adaptable as real earthworms, who burrow deeper to find food and stay warm. Once the cardboard turns to mush, it will make excellent baby food for worms. Did you know that after they mate, the light-colored part of the skin rolls off the short end of each worm and forms an egg that hatches in about three weeks? Inside this jelly-like egg are 3-4 tiny worms that will chew their way out.

Worms make the soil nutrient-dense. The sticky residue they leave in the soil provides the perfect catalyst so minerals can be absorbed by the plants. Growing food organically includes providing lots of raw material as food for the worms to make compost on location. They easily multiply given the right conditions.

Food scientists are now proving that ‘normal’ veggies have less mineral content than 40 years ago. Chemical fertilizers and modern agricultural methods do not nourish the soil as much, such that the larger veggies they produce are often empty of the minerals and vitamins needed for our bodies to be healthy. Earthworms improve the soil for years to come, producing higher crop yields at less cost.

I am also learning about bees, which adds yet another dimension to my understanding of the web of life. I am sure you all know that bees collect nectar and pollen to make baby bees, but they also need a certain temperature in the hive to thrive. Each bee instinctively knows how to fan the hive so the temperature remains constant. To me, the bees are like the canaries in the coal mine. I feel good that the public is keeping a careful watch on bee populations. I like it that many schools have nature days, educating kids about bees and worms.

It is important that we not spend money supporting chemical companies. I also suggest you tell your politician that you want the Canadian government to join the European Union in banning the use of neonicotinoids in pesticides and fungicides. There are just so many issues on the table that are important for life as we know it.

This summer, I took ten days off from farming and drove to Terrace for a family get-together and wedding. It was great to visit my brother’s family, and my four grand-children got to see where their parents were born. I like road trips for I get time to listen to audio tapes. This time, I choose The Enneagram, an ancient teaching tool used by the Catholic clergy. Author Helen Palmer names the nine tendencies of human beings and the preferences whereby each type prefers to live life, including how they react under stress or calm conditions. First, she describes our basic proposition in life and then she describes ‘what we tell ourselves as truth,’ suggesting a practice so we can mature into our personality type. She says life is a journey to know one’s self and observe how we make decisions. Helen has renamed the types so that we can relate more easily. They are the Perfectionist, the Giver, the Performer, the Tragic Romantic, the Observer, the Loyal Skeptic, the Epicure, the Protector and the Mediator.

I discovered I am a seven, or Epicure, which is defined as someone who loves life and its many adventures. Sevens often choose multiple occupations and our lesson is to limit the number of commitments we take on so we don’t wear ourselves out. A mature seven completes the projects they start. Helen’s website has a short video of each type, which is interesting to watch.

I do enjoy way too many things and often find myself distracted or over-extended. These days, I want to do less and still have the Retreat Center function. I also like putting Issues together and hope the Naramata Centre settles their labour dispute so that I can plan for the 2015 Spring Festival of Awareness.

Once Richard knew the Wise Women’s Festival was cancelled in Naramata this fall, he suggested we host a smaller Women’s Festival at Johnson’s Landing rather than cancel it totally. There was a long to-do list that could not be completed on time so we didn’t follow through, but it gave us ideas for next year. This winter, we will plan a few festivals for next summer. Details in the next Issues. Richard and I continue to search for the right people who have the skills and desire to take over the Retreat Center, so please spread the word.

Reflecting on Kuan Yin and Past Festivals at Naramata Center (Jun – Sep 2014)

Last month, I completed a task that I thought about 25 years ago when I started Issues magazine. I got the feeling I should save several copies of each edition and copy all of my Musing columns into one file. Over the years I have been faithful to that guidance and even when my computers changed, I updated the files so my fonts were readable by the new operating system. I figure I must be one of the original bloggers – I just did it before it was “the thing to do.” I do not really know why I should document my life but my angels think it is important. My mind thinks it is to encourage others to listen to their inner guidance by providing real-life examples of a busy lady who combines inner growth with her many chores. Sharing experiences helps us realize we are not the only ones with issues. I would say that with so many people learning better communication skills, along with mechanisms like computers to spread the word, overall awareness has increased tenfold in the world, in the last ten years.

On the Internet, there are thousands of websites saying the same thing, repeating what Gandhi said, or Nelson Mandela … same as all the great sages and saints: Know Thyself and Expect the Impossible. It is our greatness that needs to shine, our knowingness that we are connected to the Divine and that like conduits, we can bring heaven to Earth. Life-affirming joy captures the essence of our dreams. Practical steps on many websites offer individuals and organizations an easy way to be part of the shift that is happening. I am glad to see a healthy questioning of the old structures and a lively interest in exploring energy alternatives, preventative health choices and so much more.

On the front cover this month is a Quan Yin statue carved in Vietnam—I am attracted to her, rather then the Buddha. About 20 years ago while I was having a numerology reading, the reader’s head nodded as he went into a trance. He then described me as a young woman stitching together flower petals to make handkerchiefs. When I asked why, he said, “It is your job, you work for the lady of the house.” I asked, “What does she do with them?” and he answered, “When people come to her with injuries, she places them on a hurt to help them heal.” I then asked who the lady was. He said she was Quan Yin. I asked who Quan Yin was, and he answered “a Bodhisattva from the East.” Then he said, “That was strange…” and continued on with the reading as if nothing had happened.

A few months later, I was organizing the Fall Festival of Awareness. Low enrollment had made it a rather tense time for me, so I decided to make the best of it and get some healing energy work done on me since we had so many healers and so few clients. At the closing ceremonies, the coordinator chanted words that were not in English. We repeated the words back to her and she chanted the next line. Within minutes, I had tears streaming down my face, and by the end of the chant, I could no longer hold hands or be in the circle as I was on the floor weeping from the emotions moving through me. It took over half an hour before I stopped crying and asked her what the words meant. She said it was a devotional chant to Quan Yin.

Later that month when I did magazine distribution, I found a statue of Quan Yin in a metaphysical shop. I have learned that when I hear/see things three times, I need to pay attention. I searched the library and found a book that listed 1,000 deities of the East. It had one paragraph describing Quan Yin. At least now I knew she did exist. It has only been in the last ten years or so that her endearing essence is being recognized in America, in China she is a beloved deity.

Today I have three books about her. The latest is entitled Becoming Kuan Yin, The Evolution of Compassion, written by Stephen Levin. You will find a book review on page 23. I was also given a magazine by a lady who lived in Asia. It features a 33-meter-high bronze and gold statue of her that watches over the island of Putoshan, one of the four sacred mountains of China and home to more than 1,000 monks.

Anyway, back to my website. All my Musing columns are now posted starting with 1989 when I shared pages with the Vancouver publication, Shared Vision. It seemed the Okanagan was ready for its own metaphysical magazine and I was ready to learn to be a writer and publisher. With each posting there is a family photograph from my homesteading days, which graced the front covers for the first ten years. Being a homesteader gave me a much different perspective from that of a child being raised in the city.

As my sister-in-law looked at a few of the old photographs, she laughed and told me a story my brother had shared with her. When we first moved to Rosswood, BC, an hour’s drive from Terrace, my family rented the old telegrapher’s cabin beside the creek. Each spring when the banks overflowed, Dad would move the furniture and open the front and back doors to let the creek run through the middle of the living room. Once the run-off was complete, we would sweep out the gravel and close the doors so the fire could dry things out. A good example of adapting to one’s environment!

Just as this edition was going to print C.U.P.E., the union that serves the Naramata Centre, put up a picket line that I will not cross. My hope is that in the next three to four months they will figure out what is best for all. I know much anger and hurt have happened over the years. There is such a fine line between protecting the workers against abuse and workers taking advantage of a situation. Naramata is a very special place and perfect for hosting the two Festivals. In fact, there is no place else I could do it.

And finally, if you read the ad on page 16, you will know that Richard and I are ready for the next step of retiring from the busyness of running the Retreat Center. We had hoped to create a Canadian version of the Findhorn Foundation here in Johnson’s Landing but that has not evolved. We have weathered many storms and even a landslide. I feel it is the time to pass our knowledge and vision on to some younger folks. As with all creations, there is much responsibility and also a time for letting go so the new can emerge. If you know of folks who are vegetarian and see this kind of work as “Love in Action,” please let them know.

Last week, Richard said he feels like Noah, building the Ark and trusting that the rain is coming. We both love it here and hope that help is coming in pairs, humans, preferably a couple with a variety of skills that would be an asset to continuing on with this project. Community living is not easy but then who said life was!

Peacock at Naramata (Feb – May 2014)

This month’s cover photo was taken at the Naramata Centre as I was walking between workshops at last year’s Spring Festival of Awareness. One of their three male peacocks decided to go into full display and rotated in a circle several times, showing his opulent feathers. I took several photos and made a video as he performed for several minutes. I am grateful, for over the years I have tried but never got a photo like this.

I really wanted to put Nelson Mandela on the cover as he is one of my heroes, but that is something I don’t normally do, as I prefer Issues to have a local focus. But I did create a page within in his honour so that people can be inspired to continue his legacy. Thank goodness apartheid is no longer legal, though sadly it still lingers in many a mind and community. My parents made it clear to me as a child that everyone is equal. Mom told me stories of her great aunts being part of the underground railway, which was not an actual railroad but a secret network of routes and safe houses that helped people escape slavery around the 1850s.

For years I have been contemplating the concept, “We are all One.” Recently I read this quote from a two-thousand-year-old classic called the Tao Te Ching, written by a Chinese philosopher called Lao Tzu. One verse that resonated says, “What is well planted cannot be uprooted. What is well embraced cannot slip away. Your descendants will carry on the ancestral sacrifice for generations without end. Cultivate virtue in your own person, and it becomes a genuine part of you. Cultivate it in the family, and it will abide. Cultivate it in the community, and it will live and grow. Cultivate it in the state, and it will flourish abundantly. Cultivate it in the world, and it will become universal. Hence a person must be judged as a person, a family as family, a community as community, a state as state, the world as the world. Hence how do I know about the world? By what is within me.”

I looked up the word virtue, which means moral excellence. Aristotle says the following about it: “The point of greatest virtue lies not in the exact middle, but at the right times, about the right things, towards the right people, for the right end, and in the right way.” In Aristotle’s sense, virtue is excellence at being human, a skill that helps a person survive, thrive, form meaningful relationships, and find happiness, and this requires common-sense smarts, not necessarily high intelligence.

So how do I cultivate virtue so it becomes a genuine part of me? I take time to think deeply, which by definition is called musing, the title my angels choose for this column. I think of myself as having common-sense smarts, which I often combine with deep feelings of truth that I muse on before I create a change in my life. Add to this a few ah-ha moments, maybe a message or conversation that sticks with me, or combine it with the voice of my angels, and I may start to notice myself change as I let go of something that is no longer serving me.

My change started slowly around 1985 when my stomach revolted from the smell of wet feathers and blood and I said to myself, “I never want to do this again.” The next time chickens needed killing, I took them to a poultry farm where they did it for $1 each. Several of my laying hens had likeable personalities and when I refused to send them to the slaughter house just because they were older and not laying as many eggs, I knew the seed for change was planted, for I had never given a second thought up until then to the killing of animals for food. As a child I can remember refusing to eat animals that were my pets. Moose meat and chickens were okay. I can still remember when my husband first told me that he did not know how to shoot a gun. I cried and asked how he was going to feed his family … of course, my brothers were happy to help out.

I had always read health books, as my digestion did not seem to work that well. Generally, they all said we eat too much animal protein and fat, so I started to adjust our diet accordingly, learned of tofu and served more fish. When I decided to make every other day vegetarian, my husband revolted, for I had changed much in those twenty-five years. By then I was organizing the Spring Festival and hanging out with meditators, yogis and people who did not eat meat. This helped to make the switch easier, but I had much to learn about protein absorption and creating tasty main dishes.

Today I regard my being a vegetarian as virtuous. It may take the family I raised a few generations to think so, but I figure every family needs to have one brave soul be the first. When the knowing or feeling comes from a place in the heart, it is easy to make that choice and afterwards figure out the details to make it work.

At the 1967 World Vegetarian Congress in India, the Dalai Lama said, “I do not see any reason why animals should be slaughtered to serve as human diet when there are so many substitutes. After all, man can live without meat. In our approach to life, be it pragmatic or otherwise, the ultimate truth that confronts us squarely and unmistakably is the desire for peace, security and happiness. No matter whether they belong to the higher group as human beings or to the lower group, the animals, all beings primarily seek peace, comfort and security. Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to a man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not to die, so do other creatures.”

Perhaps our environment will force us to change as water and grain become more precious. John Robbins says it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. Farmers say it is closer to 500 gallons, depending on the irrigation needed to grow the grain. Today, because of the facts surfacing about factory farming, many people are eating much less meat. I know that change is inevitable as we mature in spirit.

Isaac Bashevis Singer gave this perspective “People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh continues with “By eating meat we share the responsibility of climate change, the destruction of our forests, and the poisoning of our air and water. The simple act of becoming a vegetarian will make a difference in the health of our planet.”

Nelson Mandela’s best quote is, “It always seems impossible until it is done.” He was released from prison at the same time I started publishing Issues, February 1990, which is the same year that Earth Day was first celebrated. Seems the world was ready for change, I sure was.

Roofing the Dome (Oct – Dec 2013 & Jan 2014)

The picture on the cover shows Richard, Eveleigh, and myself on the roof of our new dome. Eveleigh, a volunteer, is holding the heat gun that is used to seal the thermo-plastic roofing membrane. The last seam was sealed in place just as some heavy rain started, near the beginning of September. Measuring and cutting the 75 triangles was easy and reminded me of the days when I cut quilt patterns. When Don Lee suggested the idea four years ago, Richard jumped at the chance to learn more about building and has put his heart and soul into completing the dome. Next are the back porch, doors, windows, insulation and finishing off the dome inside. We hope to have it ready for next season as a second workshop space.

I am glad that the marathon roofing project is complete and I have time to get Issues to print. Still, whenever I get a few moments to contemplate what I am doing, I get a sense that my angels are steering me in a new direction, with less computer work and more gardening. Yeah! For my part, I prefer hands-on experiences to reading, though I can do both well.

Last fall, my angels told me to print just three times a year and when I mentioned it to a few people, they discouraged that from happening. The reasons they gave made good sense, so I gave in and said I would print four times a year. When it came time to actually go into print mode this July, I could feel my resistance, resistance I have felt many times over the last few years as I struggle with allowing the garden to absorb my time when I have computer work to do. When I awoke at 3 am, I could feel my mind reminding me of my dilemma. I asked my angels for a solution and heard, “Don’t print.” “Great idea,” I thought to myself and went back to sleep.

In the morning, I sent emails to my advertisers letting them know about the change of plans and hoped that you, my readers, would understand. There is now lots of alternative information available as The New Agora and Common Ground are being distributed around the Okanagan Valley. Common Ground’s byline asks you to Get the Big Picture and Agora’s byline is Elect to Govern Yourself. Both are excellent publications that have interesting articles and ads. The Internet also has many sites and videos that make connecting with like-minded folks easy. Plus, there are many retreat-like places and festivals that encourage sharing of ideas, waking us up to the fact that “We are all One” and that what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves.

I am glad to be learning more about farming and spending less time on the computer. In June, I took a two-week Permaculture Design Certificate Course with Sarah Orlowski from Grand Forks, and since it happened on our property, I now have more ideas about what can be done with the land. On August 25, three of our volunteers and myself learned about seed saving from Patrick of Stellar Farms, an organic seed company across the road from us.

I have been vermi-composting for three years and enjoy looking after worms, red-wrigglers to be precise. It does take a bit of time each day to dig in the table scraps and add wet, shredded newspaper as mulch. Once the worm bins are full, I dig about half of the worms and their castings into the garden. This October I will move the three large bins back into the basement, where they will live for the winter. Worms create the best soil for plants to thrive in. I made a video the last time I added more bedding in the bin and hope to get it posted on YouTube this winter.

In July, one of the bee hives swarmed while Richard was away, so I got out the book on bees and started reading. I soon realized how little I know and how much I prefer looking after my worms. When the second hive swarmed, Richard said it was all mine as he does not like it when I comment about his use of commercial bee-keeping chemicals to kill the mites. Now I get to see first-hand if the bees can survive and even thrive when chemicals are not used. Will let you know next summer how I did. Soon it will be time to see how much extra honey can be taken out of the hives. They are like the canary in the coal mine: too much pesticide spraying and they die. Once the crops can’t be pollinated and food is no longer produced, prices will rise, so please get involved in protecting them.

Recently, we acquired ten laying hens, with baby chicks planned for the spring. Right now, the hens are enjoying the upper garden, and two of them have taken to sleeping in the bean trellis. Next spring, we plan to build a proper hen house in the lower garden where the fruit trees are. Since we are vegetarians, the chickens will live a long, happy life.

I just finished re-reading The Secret Life of Plants, printed in the 1970’s, that proves from extensive research that plants are little miracles unto themselves. It was good to be reminded that plants are intelligent and it is I who needs to understand them so they may prosper, and so will I.

Overall people seem to be losing touch with what ‘real’ food is. Instead of spending time in their gardens, they watch TV or surf the net. If more people grew food instead of lawns, I believe we would have a healthier population. I wonder why gardening, canning and life-skills are not taught in public schools? Instead of teaching these skills to the next generation, we allow corporations and ‘experts’ to control our food production. If ‘we’ as a nation don’t wake up and help others to do the same, there is little hope that we will survive in a healthy fashion.

If you would like to learn these basic skills, sign up for the Living on the Earth course, Center Life or become a volunteer at the Center. Richard and I both wear many hats and have lots of life experience and skills. It seems we are destined to share them with those who come for the summer, for a retreat or to be part of the community. This is our tenth years of being a couple, so once the garden is tucked in and the land freezes we will be taking a holiday.

The last pages of this edition features the Johnson’s Landing Retreat Center as we will not be printing a full brochure next season. Instead, we will focus on alternative ways of getting people to our website. By February, you will find the details online as I develop my social media skills. We will still feature many excellent meditation and personal development retreats as well as the annual Tai Chi Camp in August and Intuitive Painting with Ted.

On the other side of this issue, please enjoy the many pictures of what happened this summer at the Retreat Center. See you in February when the next Issues is published.

Until then, wishing you
a delightful winter
and a memorable solstice.

Tess Tessier Passes (May – Sep 2013)

The picture on the cover is my Mom, Tess Tessier, taken when she was 17 years old. The picture here was taken in Terrace at the age of 87 when I visited her in February. Mom was happy to have a chauffeur as she had given up her driver’s license the year before and did not like depending on other people to drive her around. While I was there, Mom decided she wanted to come to visit me in the Kootenays for a while, and maybe even learn to use a computer. She was not feeling so peppy and occasionally she had been experiencing an accelerated heart rate and dizzy spells. Perhaps she sensed that something was happening, for just as I was about to leave on the plane, she looked me in the eye and said, “I want to die near you.” I said, “Whatever, the little house is empty, ask someone to drive you down.” She found a retired truck driver, as my brother was busy with his political campaigning.

Once we unpacked her boxes, Mom rested. The next day, she walked up the steep hill from the little house to our place. That evening, we had soup and a visit. The next morning, March 21, she sat up in bed and passed out. When I found her, her speech was slurred and hard to understand, and she could not move her left arm or leg, so Richard called the ambulance. The first night and next day in the hospital were the hardest as Mom struggled to understand why she could not walk or talk, but the morphine eased her distress and allowed her to be comfortable. I am grateful to have had some final moments at Mom’s side, kissing and squeezing her hand, seeing the beauty in her sunken face, and feeling the gratitude that I had for having such a remarkable Mom. She was a carefree spirit who lived on the edge, doing what she wanted, when she wanted. She lived life to the fullest, a doer of the first order. Mom usually manifested what she wanted and now that things had slowed down, she wanted a quick exit. She left us on March 25th at 8:50 pm.

Tess was raised in a convent and her Mom did not get to hug her very often, so on her final night on Earth, that is what I did. I climbed into bed with her and just held her, telling her how much I appreciated her beingness. Afterwards, looking through her boxes, I found a file called Memoirs, where she talked about the nuns rapping her knuckles if she giggled, making her stand up to eat soup if she slurped and many more sad memories. When one is raised within such rigid parameters, the soul often rebels, seeking freedom from authority and a place to belong. She had to do things her way and seldom listened to advice, which made it difficult for people to live with her. Her sense of belonging went to the animals that she looked after and who adored her back. Many times she would say, “Dogs never talk back,” plus they would do a little dance whenever she returned and that gave her a sense of happiness. She felt they set a good example: live in the moment, expect someone to feed and provide a roof, and get lots of exercise.

Over the years, I often joked with Mom that I thought her life purpose was to learn to be a Grandma. When I had my three children, she said she was too young for that and chose not to be around too much, although she did live with my family several times. She claimed to be part-gypsy and drove a purple motor home with splashy murals on it, touring many primary schools with her twelve dogs, teaching that if dogs can get along, so can children. Afterwards, she would do a slide show on her homesteading experiences or her adventures in the Arctic. She even published a children’s book entitled Iceberg Tea, about her first poodle/terrier, Gigi, visiting the Arctic. Later she published The White Spirit Bear book, which is an amazing collection of photographs from colleagues and friends.

For the past twenty years, Tess has lived near my brother Michael, his wife Patty and their twelve children, giving her ample opportunity to learn how to interact with people and be a Grandma. I am grateful that Michael is a dedicated son with an understanding wife who gave their kids that experience. Community and family life helps us to see our patterns and gives growth to our soul.

I am so glad that I did not put off my visit to Terrace, thinking I was too busy, till it was too late. I had wanted to visit for her birthday, November 30 (1925), but flights and timing did not work so I arranged it during my next distribution trip as it is easier to fly out of Penticton than Castlegar.

As usual, the angels have a plan and the timing was good, for I had booked a booth at the Body, Mind and Spirit Expo in Calgary, April 5-7. Afterwards I drove to Edmonton to visit my two grand-kids. The next day, my two sons and I drove to Terrace for Tess’s Celebration of Life. We decorated the place with orchids and gave away many more, as that is something Mom would have liked. The grand-children arranged a slide show at the Celebration of Life and that evening, the family gathered for a longer explanation of our ancestry, reshowing the photos.

Mom always kept those stories alive as she was proud of the women she descended from, and the good deeds they did, at a time when it was not easy being a woman. Her grandmother moved to the Arctic in 1921 as a nurse and school teacher, and eventually operated a twenty-room hotel and trading post. In 1938, in a desperate attempt to get more supplies into Aklavik, she journeyed the Slave, Athabascan and Mckenzie Rivers twice in one season and brought back ten ton of supplies each time. This was something unheard of, for if the river froze early, you would not be getting home. Tess’s mother was a jockey and her father was a vet. When Mom and her two brothers were born, she became a shop-keeper and sold supplies to the Russian/Ukrainian folks as she had learned that language when she travelled there. This too was something unheard of at the time, as Russia was a communist state back then. There were so many interesting tales to share about her life.

After Mom died, I phoned the funeral home to ask the price of cremation and was told that $3,800 includes everything. I also talked to my cousin from Calgary, whose husband died recently, and she said it costs about $1,500 in Alberta for pick up, paperwork, casket, urn, everything. So I thought the BC cost was expensive and I asked for a breakdown: administration fees were about $2,000, with an added $1,000 for the cremation, $400 to transport the body and $400 for the casket. I asked if we could do some of this ourselves. The lady on the phone did her best to convince me that it was not easy and that it might take me up to six weeks to get the paperwork done whereas she could guarantee it within 24 hours. When I asked about picking up the body, she continued that there are many regulations. Richard then called Service BC to investigate further and I went to their website and printed off the forms. The regulations are: the casket must be enclosed, I.e., not in the back of a pick-up truck; the vehicle must be locked if you leave; and the process is to be done with respect.

The lady at the government office was knowledgeable and in just over an hour, I had the permit for transporting the body to the funeral home. While waiting for the e-mail, we filled in the data for the death certificate. It took Richard about a day to cut and hammer together a plywood coffin. Overall we saved $2,500. As a final tribute to Mom, I found a 1940s metal sugar canister to put her ashes in, which the pioneer spirit in her would have liked. Using stars and happy faces, I pasted on a recent picture so that people could see what she looked like.

I am glad I changed the print date last year as that change has allowed me to accommodate the time needed to finalize Mom’s last days. Issues magazine did get to print on time and the Spring Festival of Awareness is a wrap. When I get home from distribution, the garden will be awaiting my presence and I will know if my brother in Terrace got voted into politics. HIs daughter Meleah gave birth to a baby girl, April 15… and life continues onward.

Fry Creek Canyon (Feb – Apr 2013)

The front cover is a photo of the Fry Creek Canyon in the West Kootenays. This photo show the water level at its lowest, before the spring run-off covers much of the rocks you now see. Water always finds the lowest point to flow back to source. Slowly it erodes everything in its way, but it can also move tons of soil in a few minutes, as the Johnson’s Landing landslide proved last July. After one of the wettest springs ever, the land could no longer hold the extra water and let go. Even if there are more mud slides this spring, the path to the lake is so cleaned out that it should not overflow its banks again. The road crew put in huge culverts where the creek crosses the road, allowing for the spring run-off and extra mud to keep moving down the mountain to the lake.

The bridge in the photo allows people to walk to Birchdale, which is the mound in the middle of our logo-photograph. Several families access Birchdale by boat, but once upon a time, sternwheelers stopped there, then Johnson’s Landing and at Argenta. These thriving communities had lots of children and a musical program that is still reflected in the entertainment occasionally offered for a night out. The trail to Fry Creek was originally carved out by miners seeking gold in the late 1920s. The bridge was helicoptered into place as part of the upgrade when the Fry Creek Canyon got included in the Purcelle Wilderness Conservancy provincial park. The bridge is less than an hour’s hike from the Retreat Center, where you can hike for days up into mountains.

If you look closely at the photo, you will see a few trees growing in the cracks of the rock, where water and dirt collect. Trees grow in places that amaze me. If there is not enough soil to support the tree, a wind storm will blow it over and the cycle starts again, building humus for the next growth. Nature is constantly rebuilding and now that 2012 is complete, another cycle is beginning for humans. The vested interests of the old, unsustainable corporations that want control and use manipulation for their gain are crumbling. Large groups of people are realizing that the chemical companies control much of our government and this is not a sustainable system. The power needs to go back to the people and there are many internet sites that support the idea, including the Idle No More movement and The natives have stood on firm ground for over 200 years, asking that the people and government co-operate with nature.

Did you know that we just completed the 333rd consecutive month of above-average temperatures and that half the Arctic ice has now disappeared into the ocean? It seems we are past the point of no return. More earthquakes and natural disasters, as well as man-made calamities, will continue to occur. The environment reflects the internal struggle that is occurring as we, the human race, distance ourselves from nature and try to dominate her. As below, so above.

In Jungian dream work, water represents emotions and these days, even talk show hosts talk about feelings, but as a human race, people generally do not understand why they or other people do certain things. The Art of Intimacy is a book that I value as it has the best understanding of emotions I have read. It speaks of the nature within ourselves and the nature of families and why it is so difficult to understand ourselves unless we learn the difference between closeness and intimacy. True freedom lies in the ability to be our self, to understand our self, but from a very early age we are programmed by society to accept rules that we do not always understand. Obedience does not assure humanness. If I have to negotiate my behavior to be accepted by another person, that is called closeness. Closeness allows for socialization and civilization. To feel intimate, I must be naturally myself.