Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ahh, Spring!

And here we have... spring. In Alberta. May 29, 2010. Two weeks ago it was 29C. Today it was 2C. And snowing. And snowing, and snowing, and snowing, and snowing. This is moisture, and after the fires I stoically do not complain, but will someone please give dear ol' Mama Nature some sense of proportion?

Yesterday the clouds were lowering and grey, and I went out to the garden to check whether or not anything had sprouted yet. Yes! Lettuce and potatoes so far. I'm assuming it's lettuce. The green bi-leafly bits are slightly thicker in the rows I marked after seeding than in the surrounding territory. Unfortunately in the earliest stages my lettuce plants look exactly like the weeds, so I'm taking the wheat-and-tares approach until I can reliably tell them apart. The potatoes were just barely breaking the ground, looking very sturdy and green where the cracks were big enough to allow a glimpse of things to come.

Tonight Chive went out and put a towel-blanket over the infant lettuce. Yes, it's a cool-weather plant and all, but I don't think the definition of "cool" extends to "below freezing"when applied to tender greenery. The potatoes will simply have to grit their rooty teeth and bear it. Hopefully the bulk of them is still sheltered enough by the earth that they won't take it too hard.

Books read this week: Dance of the Dissident Daughter (Sue Monk Kidd), The Burning House (Jay Ingram), The Sanctuary Sparrow (Ellis Peters). Oh, and Clinical Massage Therapy, of course. Can't forget that.

Present Projects: Rabbit hutches by Chive. We've located a buck and a doe, and by this time next week we should have them on the premises, merrily fruiting and multiplying. I think I'm starting to feel like a farmer. Or a zoo-keeper. Pictures of such to follow.

Patch to Poppy: "Why do you take so many pictures of yourself? Do you think you're going to forget what you look like or something?"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

W.I.P. Wednesday

3.5 weeks before my FINAL FINAL exam. The work-in-progress this week is my studying; flash-cards, mental rehearsal, re-reading all the material we covered, finding bodies to practice techniques and assessments on.

And then I'll be done, for good or ill. Sometimes I can hardly believe this. Four years ago I had no inkling that my life would be taking this turn. Three years ago I knew I wanted to do something with my hands and healing, but massage really wasn't on top of my list. Shortly after that, I figured out that if I wanted to be an acupuncturist, I was going to have to find a route that would get me there more quickly and easily than wallowing through upgrading and a token B.A. That route turned out to be massage training.

I'm glad. I don't do "massage" very much, in the way that people think of it. I treat conditions, using myofascial release, pin-and-stretch (intense), cranio-sacral therapy, some osteopathic techniques, and of course, acu-points. Helping people become more functional and move with less pain is incredibly rewarding. I love my work.

And in September, I'm actually going to finally take my first class in the acupuncture program. Hallelujah!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Q&Q

Photo credit: grafixar from

“To be a book-collector is to combine
the worst characteristics of a dope fiend
with those of a miser.”

- Robertson Davies

I was dusting my bookshelves yesterday, and noting that although I've become quite disciplined about getting rid of those which I neither love nor find useful, there are still a LOT of books living with us. Butler's Lives of the Saints (2 full editions!), Gene Logsdon and a plethora of other DIY and gardening books, quilting manuals, all the Gerald Morris knight-series, encyclopedias of Jewish folklore, the Portofino trilogy, miscellaneous novels, the Cadfael mysteries...

Who won't you part with?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pssst... Freaky Friday

Sometimes I wonder what love is, and do I really love my kids.

Now I know. I have a snake living in my home. I've peeled back millenias of evolutionary repulsion in order to make my kid happy. Must be love.

It's a ball-boa. It eats 2 mice every second week, and poops once in the same time-frame. It doesn't bark (huge plus), and the shedding is contained to its tank, not my trousers and sweaters. Actually, it's not as horrifying as I thought. I'm able to keep the shuddering to a minimum.

My son has spent a goodly portion of the last three months researching reptiles, memorizing facts, navigating through the internet in order to get the information he wanted. Just because he was interested. That sort of thing makes my heart glad.

Yesterday morning I called our homeschool centre to find out if I had any funding left. Turns out I hadn't submitted anything at all. I checked my reciepts, subtracted, and found out we had, more or less (... well, a little less) enough to buy a snake and its accoutrements.

Patch is over the moon. And I, apparently, am the coolest mum ever. Not a bad return for suppressing a few basic instincts, huh?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thanks on Thursday

The very most important thing to be thankful for today is the RAIN. I know the photo doesn't really show it well, but it's been misting and drizzling, and sometimes outright pouring, over the last 24 hours. The brush-fire has been brought under control and is no longer spreading.

Thanks be to the fire-fighters, the incredible folks who do such a dangerous job. All of them, but especially our local crew, mostly composed of volunteers. Yesterday there was a fantastic newspaper article about them, how they've left bed and board, farm and family, in order to save the homes of their neighbours. And the neighbours and families, they've picked up the empty spaces at home, seeding crops, taking over calving and watering, keeping things going until the fire-fighters get back.

Right now I'm very proud to be part of this community.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Torpid Tuesday

It's hot. Almost 30C. I'm sure there are those of you for whom that's a pleasant mid-winter's day, but it was only a few short weeks ago that I finally became acclimatized to -30C, and the ricocheting temperatures are giving me climactic whiplash. Uufda.

And there's wind. And fire. Our area is in drought, and there are wildfires burning far too close to our town. A quick windshift is all it would take, and Gawdswallop could be no more. Not that I think about that much, but it's sort of there in the back of the mind, you know? I spent a few shifts at the community hall this weekend, doing meal prep for the 250 provincial fire-fighters who are camped out in the field across from our house. Those guys are amazing. They go full-on from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., and then crash in tents and do it all over again the next day. Bless their black boots.

I ought to be studying (Of course, but when shouldn't I be studying? I think I'm close to study-coma state. There's simply no study left in me.), but I'm gardening instead. Apparently my head is in a better state than its been for the past few years, because I'm actually thinking about what to plant, and where to plant it, and how to pry up the dirt and get it to accept a few seeds.

The whole gardening thing sort of leapt upon me from behind the shed and rassled me to the ground. Literally two weeks ago it was still snowing. This week there are dust-devils everywhere, and I'm out there with a hoe, busting up clods and spreading the chicken litter from last summer.

No chickens this year. There are several reasons, and I don't really want to go into it. Maybe some meat-rabbits. Apparently they're not all that easy to come by in this region, so I've been tracking them down through the homeschool network. Hopefully I don't find myself traveling more than an hour to gather them into the fold.

Chive took the first two rows of the garden space for potatoes. Last year they were the only thing that survived, so he wasn't going to waste time hoping that lettuce would germinate when he figures he's got a sure bet with potatoes. That leaves two more readied rows for other things. I put some lettuce in this morning, but I can't quite commit to buying a package of something else. Why this is a problem, I cannot say. Must be the lingering after-effects of the lobotomy...

Peas. There you go. Of COURSE we have to have peas to graze on. What's the point of a garden without fresh peas? I shall go anon to the Co-Op and buy myself some pea-seeds. And maybe carrots, though I have to admit that carrots have never done well for me. One of the mysteries of the universe. I thought carrots were a starter-vegetable for the agriculturally inept to sharpen their pitchforks on, but the tines of my fork remain blunt in the carrot patch.

Other than that? We keep hauling old auction-mart garbage to the dump, tearing down disintegrating fences, planning to plant fruit-trees and bushes. This place will supply all my needs for busy-ness for the next decade, if not longer.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday, and was it ever.

Why is it, WHY is it that my fantasies about how parenting is "supposed" to work can't conveniently work out in reality? I keep finding myself having to take positions and enforce them against the hordes, and this is NOT HOW IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE! Jeepers.

I keep reminding myself that eventually this is all going to work out, that eventually what I'm saying and modeling is going to take root and bear fruit, but baby, I'm running on faith with that today, believe me.

Sometimes I wish I were a drinker....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

W.I.P. Wednesday

A baby quilt, for the baby of someone who babysat my little ones all those years ago... I can say with no reservation that I'm utterly, utterly done with that stage of my own life, but I wish them well, and I sure like making little quilts!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Ross Sisters - Solid Potato Salad

Check out this offering from 1944 - you've got your singing, your dancing, your hotpants, your contortionism, your swinging from the hayloft.... Happy Tuesday!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Community Acupuncture, aka Gospel Train

Get on board, a-little childrun
Get on board, a-little childrun
Get on board, a-little childrun
There's room for many-a-more...

And here's the internal war I've been waging with myself over the past few years. I love acupuncture. LOVE it, and I'm not using that word lightly. I think it's a fabulous tool for regaining and maintaining health of all sorts; physical, mental, spiritual. AND... it's very expensive. The going rate in this area is between $70-$90 per treatment. Per treatment! Holy crackers!

That, my friends, is not sustainable health care for the most of us, especially when you consider that acupuncture works best on injury or acute chronic conditions if it's administered at least 1X/week, usually between 6-10 weeks, and then at maintenance levels after that.

There are all sorts of reasons given for this, but what it boils down to is that when acupuncture crossed the ocean to the new world, it needed credibility, and it decided that credibility could be gained by adopting the standard western medical model: 1 client, 1 practitioner, 1 room, and given the nature of acupuncture treatment, for 1 hour. And if you look at it that way, well yeah, you'd have to charge a lot to cover your building rent and the cost of the education that got you there, and enough to make a living besides.

The downside of this, from a practitioner's point of view, is that it severely limits your circle of clientele. $70-$90/hour? That eliminates about 75% of people from seeing acupuncture as a possibility for themselves. Another 20% of us (those with health benefits) can afford some treatment, but certainly not on a weekly basis for very long, and maybe 5% of the population can afford to address their health and/or pain problems with acupuncture on a regular schedule.

It's hard to build a thriving practice if you can only count on a sliver of that last 5% to partake of what you're offering.

And then me, I'm thinking, "I'm going to stick a few needles in someone and let them percolate for half an hour, and for that I'll charge them $70?" Hmmmm.... even a conscience as leathery as my own finds a problem with that.

I've forgotten the actual statistic, but I believe that in North America, a large majority of acupuncturists are no longer practicing acupuncture 5 years after they graduate. The model simply doesn't work very well unless you can tap into an elite clientele.

Consequently you hear a lot of griping on acupuncture message boards about the masses not being committed to their health, etc. But really, come on! If someone's making minimum wage, they're barely paying the rent, never mind taking care of the degeneration of their knees. And on the other-other hand (have I used up all my hands yet? I warn you, I'm like a Hindu goddess in that regard), I have NO PATIENCE with people who say they can't afford treatment when they're sipping a $5 coffee.

This was going somewhere...


This is a different business model. It's not 1:1:1:1. With community acupuncture, multiple clients are treated simultaneously. Generally speaking, you use recliners instead of tables, and they're all in a big room together. People remain clothed, rolling up pants and sleeves, and most of the points used are from the knee to the foot, shoulder to hand, neck, face, head. Fees are on a sliding scale, usually from $15-$40 per treatment, often with an initial $10 surcharge for the first appointment to cover the paperwork and extra time involved in reviewing your medical history.

And here, my friends, is a video to give it flesh.

I was thinking about this concept all on my own up here in Northern Alberta, and consider my surprise when I found it all assembled and ready to use down in the States! No need to reinvent the wheel. Someday I'm going to be an acupuncturist, and I do believe that this is the way I'm going to go. It sits well in my heart.

I hear the car wheels rumblin'
And a-rolling through the land...