Sunday, January 24, 2016

Strata Sphere

My husband and I are neophytes at the art of strata living.
While, at this early point in our new arrangement, we are content with our wee condo we are surprised at the merciless level of combat that goes on within strata councils.
For decades, my husband and I have provided support and leadership for volunteer organizations. We've done hundreds of workshop on volunteer management and board development.
So, residing in the midst of a volunteers' war zone is challenging for us knowing things could be much much better. And because we assumed that if folks lived this long they would want peaceful coexistence. We're all seniors here. Older folks would want to be kind to one another, don't you think?
Apparently, not so.
I mean why would you be offended by the sound of a fellow resident voluntarily and graciously shoveling snow from walkways for the safety all residents? Apparently because the snow shovel sound happened during hours when there is a strata council-created noise bylaw in place it was a bad thing. A big bad thing. Like the shoveling was cited as an offence.
I know that is close to the silliest thing you've ever read. But it happened.
It was such a big deal, a meeting filled with insults and demeaning behavior, that an entire council, save the member who demeaned the others, resigned.
We weren't in attendance. We were too new to be on that existing council.
We are astounded at the bullying that goes on. Council members policing other people's activities is a way of life for some of the condo strata council members.
It is harsh. It is ridiculous. It is also very silly.
We hope by bringing our skills to the table we will help others bring their skills forward so that ultimately we may have a sense of community evolve here.
I am enormously interested in learning from other condo owners any where on planet Earth -- what has worked well for you in creating a peaceful strata community?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The comfort of having a creature of one's own

That wee little puppy in the last blog of that many years ago is now a grown-up little dog. He is a delightful little guy.
He has some routines that make me smile daily. For example, he curls up beside me in bed every night. When he thinks I am asleep (his decision) he jumps down and sleeps in the place on the floor of his choosing. How sweet it is to have a fur buddy cuddle with you 'til you fall asleep.
He has his own fur buddy. He has carried his fur buddy around with him for years now. It is a little bear. It is bedraggled. He hauls it outside with him and hauls it back inside again. He brings his soft toy teddy bear every where. His bear get to enjoy sitting in sun beam's light with him.
Interestingly, he doesn't bring the teddy up on the bed at night, and I rather think he jumps down after putting me to sleep so he can sleep with his bear.
He is a delightful little guy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I'm Baaaack!

It has been a long time. I have missed being in this place. I have missed reading what other's have written and I've desperately missed being the writer.
What took me so long to get back?
I worked three jobs last year. Two of them outside my home. One of the two "outside" jobs was a full-time position. I added three hours a day to that job by going to feed, water and visit with an older gentleman. Then, I came home to do care-giving at home.
So, most days there wasn't any time left for writing anything except the occasional 'honey do" note for my husband. Of course I should have blogged instead. If I'd blogged I could have check to see if there were any visitors to the site. Rarely was there any indication that husband had seen my notes. Certainly nothing indicating that he found the notes interesting or funny.
So, what's new?
I lost my beautiful trusting old Pomeranian last Spring. And despite my better judgement; I have a new young Pomeranian lad filling my life with joy (and pee spots).
I have learned that my brain is for processing not storage as I have no memory of how I trained any of the Pomeranians I had before this one. Were they all so wild and crazy as baby dogs?
The little guy wakes up much earlier than is socially correct. He is awake, ready to begin the day anytime after 5 a.m. He is always cheery and delighted to be alive. He is a marvel to wake up to even if he doesn't understand "it's still dark out" as a meaningful statement.
Our dear old Border Collie is an angel. She allows the little Pomeranian hours of wrestle-mania every day and she always allows him to think he is the winner. Stacey makes all the appropriate noises and some amazing gestures -- always harmless -- how does she do it? The little guy never has never had reason to doubt his sense of strength. He is sure he is the light weight champion of the world.
We have two cats. There are both very big cats.
One of the two, a big black and white male, is terrified of the little Pomeranian, to the little dog's great pleasure of course. The other big fluffy female cat torments the little guy.
She lays down on the little dog's training pad for a nap. The Pom can't believe his eyes. Sacred territory like that and she's got her big fat cat body on it. What is a guy to do?
Yesterday the little guy found the master bedroom door three-quarters open. He did a little scratching-pushing effort on the door and to his amazement it bounced back toward him. Reason for the bounce was that Miss Kitty was hiding behind the door. To her amazement he did it again with more effort (and with a gleeful smile on his face) and then he did it again. Now she was the one in a state of disbelief!
The little guy is very social. Loves everyone.
The two huge unresolved scary issues are that he doesn't come when he is called and he is a runner. I've almost lost him twice.
I am so open to learning how to train him. Please write.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What will Santa think?

My Shuswap village is a small one with only 3,000 residents. In our little village there are few stores and inherently, they represent the centre of the universe to us.
On our Main Street there is a pharmacy which has an enormous amount of merchandise plus a Sears outlet, a floral department and a pick-up point for dry-cleaning as well as a printing machine for photos. There is an exceptional grocery store on Main Street. It is bigger and brighter than you would expect for a rural village of our size. We get this impressive store because our population doubles for two months every year and the extra 3000 guests buy lots of groceries for their houseboat, cabin and lakeside condo holidays.
The government liquor store on Main Street boasts very profitable earnings thanks to the same visitors as well as thirsty locals.
The other important Main Street service is the post office. This village is in a narrow valley which is overcast and grey for much of each year and all the routes out are treacherous in winter. Without a huge stretch of imagination you can guess that our Canada Post Office is an integral aspect of daily life here. It is perfectly normal to go to the post office just to see if there is anything in the box, even when nothing is expected. Folks waiting in line for rate information and such visit with one another because we always know one another. There are waves and greetings called out to friends coming to and going from their mailboxes located not far from the service area.
Since my arrival in this community in 1968 staff behind the counter have included a life-long friend -- as well as fellow community folk -- all have been professional, gracious and helpful.
I don't go to the post office as much as I used to because we pick up envelopes from a rural mailbox now and because I use e-mail.
Within the past month I have been into our little local post office often as I sent and received several parcels. Imagine my surprise at the discovery of no one I know working behind the counter. Then, imagine my discontent at being asked for my years old driver's license as ID three weeks in a row by the same employee. This person did not write the license number down. She just looked at the photo and I assume she compared the photo to the face standing in front of her. That'was pretty silly since the person on the license looked younger, blonde not grey-haired, displayed considerably fewer wrinkles and weight. Obviously the employee does not use the license as a source for name learning because she asked to see the license every time and never called me by name or acknowledged she'd seen me before.
Perhaps this woman's area of expertise is efficiency. Certainly, she is not a customer service queen.
I oppose the proposed calls for privatization of Canada Post. I contend that Canada Post is an integral aspect of Canadian identity. Small communities such as ours have historically been well served by Canada Post employees.  I want the good service and friendliness back.
I was once told at a workshop that the single most important thing we can do for the Canadian business place is not tolerate poor customer service.
So, am I going to contact the Office of the Ombudsman at Canada Post to make a complaint? No, I won't do that. But rest assured I will certainly send a letter to H0H 0H0 next December to make sure that said employee's conduct is duly registered with S.C. That'll fix her. See where her plea for forgiveness for less than perfect behavior gets her with the Big Guy.
What's more on my next visit to the post office I might do something to make myself more memorable to staff.
 No! No! No! I won't go "postal." I was thinking more along the lines of caustic remark or outrageous clothing or how about no clothing? That should do it. Darn near as scary a thought as going "postal."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

RareEarth Festival like an Indigo Child

No one will laugh at you if you are knitting. Skilled, experienced blues musicians Dawn Tyler Watson and Paul Deslauriers at the RareEarth Festival.

Arleigh -- another  truly amazing woman and the delightful Sistas Blue.

Kath Raeber. She may well be a human angel.

I think I've met an Indigo Child.
An Indigo Child is alleged to possess special skills and abilities. That well describes the RareEarth Festival and it is only two years old.
The RareEarth Festival is not an ordinary music festival. It is simply more. It is more empathetic to the needs of its audience. It is more gentle. And it is distinctly more innovative and creative in meeting music festival criteria.
This festival works at remaking the festival world by making sure it is green. There is no trash -- the grounds are kept impeccably clean. This is a festival with very little plastic.
Just like an Indigo Child, the RareEarth festival rejects authority. Especially it thumbs its nose at the big festivals. This is a little festival with big names (like Buddy Guy, Kal David, Rita Chiarelli).
This is a festival that takes care of its own too -- the fabulously talented musicians of the Okanagan that are overlooked by the big festivals.
At the RareEarth festival audience people take care of one another's belongings with just a nod. No formal agreement needed.
Folks shared their veggies and snacks just 'cuz they were sitting near by.
Immersion in RareEarth space and philosophy encourages gracious and friendliness..
This festival is in a magical place with the beautiful sage-covered hills of Vernon close by and sunshine, that Okanagan summer trademark, providing abundant vitamin D and good vibes.
The music -- great blues and jazz.
At the core of graciousness is the organizer, blues crooner Kath Raeber. Kath is a remarkable woman (check out her bio at Kath and the Tom Kats). Like an Indigo Child she is likely a human angel.
Besides my heartfelt gratitude to her for organizing my all-time favourite festival, Kath's music re-introduced me to a childhood friend. My friend is another truly amazing woman.
I am thrilled. Seeing my friend happens at the RareEarth festival if at no other time.
The RareEarth Festival isn't for everyone. If you want to be a power-drinking idiot, skip the RareEarth Festival.
If body surfing to loud, pounding music is your thing, skip the RareEarth Festival.
This festival is for lovers of blues and jazz offered up to you by very skilled, experienced musicians.
This festival is for laid-back types, those not needing to push one another around to see the show. (You can bring your knitting to this festival and no one will laugh at you.)
The RareEarth festival offers a fabulous series of shows in a marvellous setting. There are no workshops to distract you. There are not multiple things going on at the same time. Just great music offered in a modest well-organized manner.
Indigo Children are said to be rare beings -- like this festival. It's one in a bjillion.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Bliss Interrupted

Rhubarb - the official signal of Spring.

Trays of infant lettuce and herbs.

Miss Kitty enjoying warmth in the greenhouse.

I have waited so long for the arrival of these spring-washed days of sunshine. What an experience of enormous relief!
All over our property all those winterized grey-brown branches are receiving the powerful magic of the green unfurling process.
Equally as exciting is a visit to our greenhouse that not long ago was inaccessible because of snow and ice. Now, the greenhouse contains trays of infant lettuce, herbs, tomatoes and peppers smiling at the sunlight. (The greenhouse also contains Miss Kitty. She adores the warmth).
We love rhubarb. I make a strawberry, pineapple and rhubarb jam for my husband. I love rhubarb marmalade! So, both products are made here.
I also freeze little containers of stewed rhubarb to serve thawed on our winter bowls of cereal.
Of course we enjoyed rhubarb pies. My husband likes pies with "runny juice." I don't. I like rhubarb custard pie. So, both types are made here.
Obviously, rhubarb matters.
Therefore, seeing its shoots begin their climb out of the earth is almost enough to start me salivating.
Rhubarb is the official signal that marks the true beginning of this all important Spring season.
I will miss a day of precious sunshine tomorrow as I need to take my frail elderly mother to hospital for a blood transfusion. She has essential thrombocythemia.The monthly blood transfusions give her a modest measure of relief.
Every aspect of my mother's life has been compromised by this disorder.
This disorder has 37 common symptoms and my mother experiences all of them. Frustratingly, she refuses to grasp that the symptoms are a collection of things covered under one umbrella, as this has never been properly explained to her. Therefore, each symptom's onset required doctor's office visits, lab work, x-rays, specialized tests, visits to out-of-town medical specialists and on and on.
My mother is very brave in the face of all of the terrible daily symptoms she experiences. Her pain is physically and emotionally exhausting.
It would help enormously if someone in a position of medical authority took the time to explain the collection of symptoms to my mother -- and explain to her that each symptom does not necessary herald a new disease. But rather, that the symptoms are part of the whole. Her stress level (and mine) would be much less. (Not to mention it would save the medical system bunches of money).
All these years into the disorder, she has been offered only small bits and pieces of information from her doctor or hospital staff. That leads to the obvious "well, the doctor never said that..." when I tried to explain that something she is experiencing is part of "the collective."
I have been able to access a limited bit more information from oncology professionals. But I would dearly love to speak with others dealing with this disorder -- to find out what they are receiving for treatment, how they cope with the symptomology and above all else, what they know about the history of the disorder.
As they say on that BC television channel "Got Knowledge -- share it." Please.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Passionate Celebrant -- answering questions you were afraid to ask!

A Passionate Celebrant
"What's a Celebrant?" asks everyone. Few have encountered the title.
Reassuredly, I haven't joined an organized formal religion requiring me to make various vows -- although marriage appears, by default, to have brought about poverty, the other and (much to Husband's chagrin) very little obedience (but let's save all that for another posting).
I would love a comtemplative life of meditation and reading but it seems that's not my lot.
However, I am totally okay with an active vocation of service to the needy and being a Celebrant is a perfect means of providing service using my skill set.
As a Celebrant, I am committed to doing very special services for the living on behalf of the dead. I am passionate about doing this to the best of my ability! Afterall, you only get one chance to do this right and it matters so very much to all in attendance.
Funeral celebrants are trained and certified to plan and deliver all aspects of a funeral or Celebration of Life. We are secular.
Certified celebrants are dedicated to offering their services to the many people who are not affiliated with a traditional religion and do not have a clergy person to call upon, and we are there for the many people who are simply not comfortable with a traditional religious funeral ceremony.
For some folks today's typical funerals fail to reflect the life of the deceased or fail to express the depth of meaning they are seeking.
It is not uncommon for families who have chosen cremation to postpone their decision about a ceremony for the deceased. For these families a celebrant-led memorial service is an excellent opportunity to complete the farewell for their loved one.
Celebrants are also there for the families who, through cross-cultural marriage, may wish to integrate each other's customs into a service.
As well, celebrants are available to those wishing to participate in their own funeral arrangements by pre-planning and working with the celebrant on details of their service prior to their death. This process can provide an enormous level of comfort.
Each funeral or Celebration of Life service I deliver is different as every family is unique. Each eulogy is personalized -- no two are the same. A eulogy is written following my collecting of stories and information from the deceased's family (or close friends) -- and as an experienced, published journalist, it is my honour to use my skills for this aspect of each funeral or Celebration of Life service. I feel like I have waited all my life to be able to do this for others!
I include one or more readings and musical selections and will create a video presentation (when it is possible).
I incorporate something special and comfortingly symbolic in each service -- something reflecting the person who has died.
I am always available for a separate ceremony for committing the body or ashes.
As a celebrant I lead every aspect of the service.
I believe that every life is significant. And I believe it is important to recognize every life with a service or celebration that is personal, meaningful and memorable for those in attendance at the service. Funerals and Celebrations of Life are also for the living.
I am dedicated to fostering a sense of safety and security at each service so that those who are mourning are able to do so. It is especially important to me individuals receive a personalized service, and it is important that their bereaved acquaintances have an opportunity to honour the one who has died in a place where they are welcomed and allowed to grieve in safety.
I have been trained and certified by Doug Manning and Glenda Stansbury of the internationally respected In-sight Institute.
It typically takes me 15 hours (or more) of dedicated preparation time. (My fees are reasonable and are modest compared to traditional funeral services.)
I fully recognize that losing an animal companion can be wrenching. For most of us there is a huge need to recognize the love and loyalty of our lost friend through a healing event. I am always privileged to help memorialize an animal companion with a dignified service.