A wonderful break and reminder

walk Kamloops winter nature bcbeautifulThis past weekend, between Sunday service at our place of worship, a run to the supermarket, picking up le Mari from the pool and reviewing four articles for my studies, le Petit and I put on our winter layers and took a quick walk, about 15 minutes from our home.

It was glorious. Why, oh why, haven’t we been doing this more, this winter? We trace this path a lot in the warmer months but recent snow, illness and priorities have kept us, have kept me, away from a pastime that I actually LOVE: walking around our city trails with le Petit.

Our impromptu Sunday walk was a strong reminder of how important it is to take breaks from the “daily grind” (and a grind it has been lately, between day shifts and night shifts, sickness, buses to catch, volunteer responsibilities, appointments, and books to review) and to lay down all media and distractions and just be, in place, in quiet.

I was also reminded that if we take more of these breathing breaks, then we are much less likely to feel that life is a grind and likelier to gain perspective and space regarding the things we deem important. It’s like this walk reset my current orientation on things. The word “refreshing” comes to mind.

We’ll definitely be doing this again soon.

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Why I love the Kamloops Farmer’s Market

It’s that time of year again, when the farmer’s market is in full swing. They’re open in May but it’s not until the weather warms up and the produce has begun to flourish that the variety and richness of local growers and artisans become really visible.

succulents and cacti, kamloops

There is produce galore – the spinach from the little truck of the East Indian farmers, the little fruit pies to die for from the Spanish lady, the super wide variety of lettuces and little cacti from the truck near the entrance of the market.  Then there’s the aromatherapy headache remedy from the yoga lady, the gorgeous hair accessories for little girls from the korean lady (my friend Sharie), kettlecorn, locally roasted coffee and bannock!

Not to mention the school playground where we’ve met at least 4 families who have become more-than-acquaintances, and a half-dozen who have become regular familiar faces.

Yesterday, I had a wonderful encounter that reminded of why the farmer’s market is also a hub for community-building and expansion. I was looking for a plant for my friends who had just opened a new Japanese restaurant, Nishino, up in Westsyde, and considered buying them lavender, which they could grow at home if they wished. I found a bunch of lavender plants at this one truck. I started talking to the lady, and BOY, did she know lavender. She spoke with such assertion and JOY, about the varieties and heartiness of lavender, and the hollows to avoid when planting it, and about which varieties were so hearty they could grow in Edmonton. Then I moved on to ask about chick-and-hen plants. And she knew all about them, too.

Her name is Shirley, and she looks like how I imagine the ideal gardener: weathered hair and skin from the time spent outdoors, strong hands, a kind, wide smile and a down-to-earth aura of common sense and time-earned wisdom. She and Ken, who helped us with the actual purchase of the potted chick-and-hen plants, were so kind, so genuine and obviously so passionate about their greens. She actually said, “Gardening is my passion,” and it was her mother’s and her mother ‘s before that. It runs in the blood and it was obvious she loved it.

Shirley and Ken Wells

Together with Ken, they run Laughing Swan Farm, mostly wholesale plants, grasses and shrubs and trees, but it turns out they are open to the public on Sundays from 11-3. We will have to visit one Sunday afternoon.

I love the market for introducing me to folks like Shirley and Ken, whom I might not ever have met otherwise.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

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I know, it’s so cliche, this ground-up perspective at an amusement park.

But seriously, this ride at the weekend ride fair (the kind that goes up in a mall parking lot on Thursday and is gone by Monday), called “Vertigo,” was really really high. From the safety of cement under our feet, we watched the brave riders rise and rise and rise and then spin with such speed, and then we gasped.

The other marvellous thing about today’s visit to the fair was that it was bloody cold and snowing. Snowing. In mid-April. It made the riders seem even braver.

tractor, farm, kamloops

Visiting the Lang residence in Cherry Creek

This past Sunday, we drove 15 minutes outside our city limits and entered a whole new world of sheep farming, milking, farm machinery. It was also familiar territory of warm-hearted people opening their home and life to others. The people were Josey, Todd and Jensen Lang, folks I’d seen a lot of Sundays a couple of pews down from us, and Josey was le Petit’s Sunday school teacher sometimes, but you never know about the people you casually see: I never would have imagined they were people who raise sheep and care for 20 acres! (But then, I could never imagine anyone of my personal acquaintances living a farm life – we’ve just always been city dwellers.)

So it was a fantastic opportunity and experience to visit with them, along with a whole whack of other families on Sunday afternoon, on their “homestead,” which included: farm animals – sheep, chicken, guard dogs, horses nearby; a drum set; a trailer ride on a rickety tractor; a marshmallow and hot dog roast and tons a homemade sweets. The children had hours of discovery and running around, le Petit included.

Both Josey and Todd have day jobs, but they chose to raise and breed sheep, and some chickens as a “hobby.” They work so hard, morning till night, and I could see that they care deeply about the kind of life they want to live, and to give their daughter.

Visiting the farm showed me a glimpse of a life a bit off the beaten path, one not typical in the circle of friends that le Mari and I interact with. It’s a life a bit closer to the ground – one of working directly with hands close to the earth, seeing the product of one’s work more directly, eating the resulting food one actually grows (reminds me of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, one of my favorite reads of 2009). It’s not an easy life, I can see that, but there is a value there, a quality of life that is different and I think, worthwhile to pursue.

We had an amazing time and I’m grateful for their generosity and openness in welcoming us, and a whole lot of other people, into their home.


What community spirit can be like

We’re just not a sports family.

In my Korean and Mari’s Quebecois family backgrounds, we just don’t have a history of sports love. We’re not like that family in The Blind Side where both the husband and wife, and later, the tutor, had college and town affiliations and thus a generations-old and bone-deep loyalty to one particular football team.

Friends in Canada and in town are more likely to demonstrate such devotion to hockey: our friends have put their 2 sons, ages 3 and 6, into hockey now, and a colleague of mine has 4 grown sons in hockey, a choice that required her family to take a second mortgage on the house to support all their activities.

I just can’t see us going that far in any sports training or activities in which we would encourage le Petit.

But then, I love love love movies where individuals, families, dreams, schools and sometimes, entire towns are crushed and invariably – since we’re watching a film – able to be uplifted by a sports event or team: Friday Night Lights and Mystery, Alaska are two films that come to mind.

So, a couple of weeks ago, all three of us attended a Blazers home game.

It was really fun to be surrounding by FANS: people who have seasons’ tickets, who bring their own scorecards and keep track of stats, who wear Blazers’ swag – jerseys, hats, scarves, a giant foamy hand, coming out to cheer (and sometimes boo) the home team, people who are committed to these players and who know them.

It was my fourth Blazers game, the boys’ second one. We loved it all.

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Waiting for the sports blimp that distributes prizes from the air

Staycation

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As it was the first time in years I was in school as a student, this winter break was really like the vacation we used to get during the school year.
It brought me new appreciation of the term “staycation.” It was pretty awesome, just hanging out with le Petit and mon mari, relaxing with food, games, family and friends in town, and having some new experiences (bowling by our family of three).  Good times to get recharged for one more semester of grad school course work!