Tuesday, September 25, 2012

SUITCASE DIARIES - Food - it's just not the same "sniff"

I'm going to be a sucky baby and whine in this entry. I'll tell you why...

Can you say ambiance?
It all started 16 days ago on a lovely, late summer's, evening, Sun Sept 9th when I stepped into the MOSSWOOD HOLLOW RETREAT CENTRE dining room in Duvall, Washington. Most of the Dream Teacher Training I students had already arrived. We began introducing ourselves and chatting casually as we stood before a massive, elegantly set dining table which was as long as the room was wide. The multiple candles shone and glowed off the windows surrounding the space accentuating a warm welcome.

Soon after we were invited to take a place...and we were served the most delicious, delicately flavoured, perfectly plated fare imaginable. And, I mean SERVED.

I've been to many retreat centres. The food, which varies in quality, tends to be wholesome and tasty but at all of the centres self-serve is the order of the day so the plating is whatever I can make of it. Settings are non-existent as it's grab a knife, fork and spoon, give your thanks and have at it. Having worked in kitchens from: dishwasher, to food prep to bussing tables and waitressing, this is no biggie for me. In fact it was difficult at first to allow others to serve me.

I tried to describe how I felt about being served and dining at a beautifully set table to a fellow Shiatsu therapist/friend (who was once a chef herself).

She said, "You felt like you were being honoured. That the work you do is important, supported and valued." That's it exactly! (Just now, I realize that I dreamed this very phrase - deja vu - seriously :) )

In return I truly honoured the food that was presented to me with a silent thanks and an audible, "Oh, this looks (smells, tastes) amazing," or something to that effect, and took my time to savour each bite. We all did. Dining was leisurely and the room filled with stories of our lives and our dreams shared over a glass or two of wine (Picked up on a run into town by some of the group; purchased with contributions of a few bucks donated to the cause.)

Brekkie was the more casual buffet-style which suited me, a night hawk who rouses slowly and delicately, just fine. The serving table was filled with fresh breads, fruit, yogurt and special offers of the day even gluten free pancakes, soy milk for granola and other dietary options were there for the taking. Many of us were asked if we'd like a cheese-free egg dish to be specially prepared; Sandie could whip it up if we so desired. But pancakes, french toast and other items won over my taste buds.

Even the Stellar Jays eat well at
Mosswood Hollow
Every lunch and every dinner 23 dreamers were served; 16 meals in all and each one a treat for the senses. Lunch and dinner came with delicate salads of fresh mixed greens tossed in the lightest of dressings; sometimes topped off with orange, red or yellow edible flowers.

Dessert portions (also served both at lunch AND dinner) were modest, just right to cleanse the palate and leave a gentle sweet taste in my mouth. Ice cream was a popular offering. To my surprise I found Sandie's milk substitute "ice cream" better than the dairy version! Cookies (delicious chocolate chip, warm mmm. Shhh I took 2. Slipped one into a napkin and took it up to my room in "Griffandor" for a late night snack - yum.) a wheat free chocolate cake to die for (Sandie's grandmother's recipe) and the most amazing version of baklava I've ever tasted (I took mini bites to make it last longer!)

Salmon, whitefish, burgers and red meat, Moroccan chicken, asparagus, green beans, tiny perfect potatoes...ah...

SANDIE I miss you!!! It's just not the same.

And thanks so much to Paul, Hilary, Shepherd, "Sam", Dave and anyone I may have missed for all that you did to make me/us feel so welcomed and at home.

I can't wait til next year!

CLICK HERE ON MOSSWOOD HOLLOW RETREAT CENTRE and feast your eyes! Read the whole thing and I dare you not to salivate when you check out MEALS. Oh ya, on OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATIONS see the top middle picture and the bed in the left corner - that's where I slept in what my room mates and I lovingly called "Griffandor".

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I have returned from a most fabulous 6 week adventure out west; to Vancouver Island and the state of Washington.

I'd hoped to blog about my adventures as I went along my merry way but my way was w-a-a-a-a-a-y too merry for me to put pinkies to keys other than to write to Rod. I have been in a permanent state of :) the whole time. So, over the next few weeks I'll tuck in some of the reports of my adventures through edited letters that I sent his way (You don't want to read the "poopsie, schmoopsie" mushy stuff, do ya?...Didn't think so.)

Here's the overview of the 3 legs of the trip:

  1. Rod and I attended the wedding of my niece Tiffany and her hubby Rich and spent the rest of the first 3rd of the visit with family, friends and food with a little trip to Tofino added to the mix - more about that later...NOTE: See blogpost SUITCASE DIARIES - 1 
  2. After saying good bye to Rod at Campbell River airport, the purpose of the middle 3rd of my trip was to: visit friends in Maple Bay, Sidney and Victoria; talk about dreams, lead dreamcircles and provide one-on-one dreamwork sessions as well as Shiatsu treatments; and attend events/classes at the Iyengar Centre of Victoria - more about that later...NOTE: See blogpost SUITCASE DIARIES - for Derek and Carole
  3. During the last, third, leg of my adventure I attended Dream Teacher Training with ROBERT MOSS at MOSSWOOD HOLLOW in Duval, WA - more about that later... check out my TWITTER feed & AWAKENING CHOICE DREAMS on occasion as many of these entries will show up there.
The entries will appear as the spirit moves me, in no particular order. Just look for SUITCASE DIARIES

Sat, SEPT 8/12
What a fabulous day!!!

I went to Government House this morning with Adelle for the raising of the totem pole carved by Tony Hunt, a member of the well known Hunt family of carvers. This event was part of Victoria's 150th birthday celebration; one of many others happening around the city today.

As we walked through the familiar grounds I told Adele of the nights that Sorel and I would sneak into the gardens after hours just to sit by the pond under a starry sky, talk about our hopes and dreams of the future and pick a few flowers to grace our humble abodes.

And as I watched the gathering crowd, I remembered the summer I spent drawing the native artwork - totems, carvings, the painting on the front of the long house within the exibit, small decorative items amongst other things - in the Museum on the grounds of Thunderbird Park. I remembered seeing the Hunt name associated with many of these works of art. And, as I daily passed through the park, I watched native carvers help a totem pole emerge from a trunk of wood.

Speeches were given by Lt.-Gov Steven Point (of First Nations heritage), Tony Hunt (carver of the pole). Elders and members representing many native communities were invited to speak if so moved.

Hunt mentioned that he was present when his grandfather, Chief Mungo Martin, carved the original Hosaqami totem pole that stood in Portsmouth, England for 30 years. In fact his grandfather gave his young grandson a chisel to help with the work; Tony's initiation into the family craft was begun. The original pole, commissioned in 1959 to commemorate the relationship between the Canadian and British navies, was damaged beyond repair. It was returned to Canada and was laid to rest on the grounds of Government House so that it can, "disappear back to Mother Earth," Hunt said.

This pole was commissioned to honour the original work and to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. Chief Hunt's son and grandson were amongst the carvers who produced the pole that was raised today making 6 generations carrying on the family tradition.

Hunt talked about Mungo Martin House (Wawadit'la) in Thunderbird Park and the pivotal role it played in lifting the ban on the Potlatch ceremony (from Wikipedia - "Potlatch, in Chinook jargon refers to the "different ceremonies among [the] many nations of the Pacific Northwest that... [include] feasting, dancing and giving gifts to all in attendance."[1]) which had been banned in Canada in1884. Amongst the "reasons" for the ban listed in Wikipedia I found this one very interesting - "this behaviour was deemed possibly as a destabilizing force in the nation because it was so dramatically opposed to the values of the ideal "Christian capitalist society"[2]...

As I understand it, when the building of Wawadit'la was finished in 1953, Wilson Duff (the museum's anthropology curator at the time) commented that now the house was complete. Chief Mungo said that it wouldn't be a real house until a Potlatch was held to honour and empower it - setting the wheels of repeal into motion. The opening ceremony for the house was the first time a potlatch was "legally" held after the ban was removed from the Indian Act. (The ban was virtually impossible to enforce. Hunt and many others continued to risk being arrested, during that time, as participants in potlatches in many First Nations communities throughout the province.)

The pole lay face-down. Ropes wrapped around it connecting it to pulleys and stabilizing trees. Two elders came forth and chanted to begin the ceremony. Elders, veterans, carvers and other first nation's people in the crowd were asked to help pull the pole into position.

But before this, Point, noticing a granite outcropping in front of the stand, encouraged the children to come close, sit upon it so that they could have a better view from which to serve witness so that they might one day tell their grandchildren of this most historic event; that they were there. He said, "This pole reminds us that different cultures need to live in harmony"...  it represents... "a new time for us all to stand in the same circle." In his powerful voice he chanted a song to B.C., our home. (I got a CD of it, profits from sales are going to help young women living on the street).

I held my breath during the initial attempts as the pole hovered at a low angle, the ropes creaked as it swayed and then returned to the cradle with a "thud". Patiently, the group co-ordinated their effort, guided by a man on the mic. The pole began to rise; he told them to stop as the thunderbird (eagle) came into view so that he might comment on it. They resumed, "stop" he said, as the whale below came into view and we saw the hole that Lt.-Gov Point contributed to the effort. They resumed, "stop" he said again as the pole leaned, so close to being upright. He announced,"I'm going to go to the bathroom. I'll be right back." Laughter rippled through the anxious crowd. I've come to learn that ceremony isn't complete without humour.

When the pole was firmly upright, I moved to the rock beside the statue of Sir James Douglas (also commissioned for the Queen's Silver Jubilee and unveiled on May 21/12, sculpted by Armando Barbon who was in attendance and introduced to the crowd) to get a better vantage point. The drumming, singing and dancing began (Hunt's son and grandson dancing proudly with the others) as a young eagle flew overhead and the scent of pines wafted through the air on a light, cool breeze.

Unfortunately I couldn't stay for the rest of the celebration (a feast of salmon, bannock and more) and the unveiling of THE SALMON PEOPLE a carving gracing the face of the bandshell, as I had to get ready for my trip on the walk-on ferry to Seattle on Sunday.
*        *        *
1.^ Lutz, John. “After the Fur Trade: The Aboriginal Labouring Class of British Columbia, 1849-1890” in Labouring Canada: Class, Gender, and Race in Canadian Working-Class History, ed. Brian D. Palmer & Joan Sangster. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2008. P.26

2. ^ibid P.28

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Suitcase Diaries - for Derek & Carole

©Nance Thacker '82
appeared in Yoga Center of Victoria Newsletter
around the same year
click on item to enlarge
I'm going all over the map as I write about my trip on Vancouver Island but what the hell it's my blog, eh!?

Today I had truly wonderful and amazing experiences. What particularly warmed my heart was the open house at the Iyengar Yoga Centre of Victoria. There I sat with a former teacher of mine, Carole Miller, amongst a crowd of students, yoga centre teachers and staff members listening to my yoga teacher Shirley Daventry French along with her husband Derek French - an anatomy teacher of ours during my yoga teacher training and mentorship days - talk about the benefits of yoga.

I hadn't seen Derek since '86 when I left the island. I ran into Carole at an event at the synagogue 2 years ago and I last attended Shirley's class this past Thursday morning.

In true French fashion the presentation was peppered with spontaneous humorous asides. As I listened I was reminded of interactions and creative collaborations with Derek that ended up in the Yoga Centre of Victoria Newsletter such as the yoga snakes and ladders game and the letters to the editor that went back and forth between us - I recall one I wrote in which I took offense to his term "paste-up gang".

Derek French & Shirley Daventry-French

Ann Kilbertus, Shirley & Carole Miller

During his talk Derek recalled a particular cartoon, that I thought I'd entered into my pictures the day before I left for this trip but have discovered is not in my stash. I will find it upon my return and post it later. But there was also reference to "newness" the term coined by Norma Hodge (the teacher who introduced Iyengar yoga to Shirley and Derek during that eventful stay at Yasodhara Ashram that started the whole ball rolling) for the sensation - often confused for, but which is not pain, that one can feel during asana practice.
©Nance Thacker '85
published in the Yoga Centre of Victoria around that time
click on image to enlarge
And, after the talk Carole mentioned some cartoons I'd done prompted by her experiences as a young mother trying to maintain a daily practice as a householder with a husband and twins.

So, this one's for Derek and Carole
P.S Carole's kids were responsible for the cartoon that appeared in this blog post AHIMSA & REFLECTION ON VIOLENCE

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Suitcase diaries - 1

Hi all,

Since Aug 8th I have been travelling on Vancouver Island and having w-a-a-a-a-a-a-y too much fun in the process to write my blog entries.

Rod and I came out for our niece's wedding in Campbell River and stayed there for 16 days venturing out to local haunts, visiting with family members and eating w-a-a-a-a-a-y too much. Mid way into the visit we drove out to Tofino and stayed there for 2 nights. Rod returned home on the 24th to a heart warming poo and puke filled welcoming from PBG and Tiny Perfection while I've stayed out here spending time in Maple Bay (in North Cowichan), Sidney and now the Cook village neighbourhood (my old stompin' grounds) in Victoria. On Sunday I'll head over to Mosswood for Dream Teacher Training with Robert Moss.

*       *       *

Rod and I, along with his brother (Rog), his wife (Di) and our nephew (Shaun) and (Meaghan) his wife (does that make her my neice?) ... were welcomed at the airport by Rod's parents "the folks" and his sister (Sue) and her hubby (Paul).

During hysterical greetings we were gifted with sugar donuts that Sue had purchased from the "donut lady" at the COMOX VALLEY FARMERS MARKET the previous Sat. On Sat the 18th a pilgrimage to find and honour fresh sugar donuts and their maker was in order so we made the trek to the market to find ORGANIC ACRES - THE JAM LADY.
Although the sign says THE JAM LADY
she'll always be the DONUT LADY to me.
It's all so delicious looking but it's the donuts
that are calling my name!!!

The Jam/Donut Lady shows me this cartoon
- a synchronic moment!
As I dug into one of her tasty warm sugar treats I said, "You know in Hawai'i some people are greeted with leis, garlands of flowers, but at the Comox airport we were greeted with a bag of your donuts. I think that they should make leis our of your donuts."
She says, "Funny you should mention that. I have a cartoon in my cash box of a guy walking out of a bakery with donuts strung around his neck. The caption reads, "we ran out of bags". And, since I found that I've been looking for plastic donuts to string around my neck to wear at the market."
I see the name of the entertainer and am reminded
of my wonderful time in Hawai'i earlier this year.
Ah... all island life is magical!
We are asked to take a survey in this most fun way.
On the WHERE DO YOU LIVE? card
I am the little red dot at the bottom in OTHER.
We leave the market, on this most sunny day, to go in to Courtney in search of...more food which we find in abundance at MICHAEL'S OFF MAIN BREAKFAST LUNCH AND CHEESECAKE. Though the food looks and is delicious (I'm told); too satisfyingly stuffed with donut, I simply have coffee and watch as Rod and Sue chow down.
I know the date says 2010 but we made an encore
visit during this trip too
Somehow, on our way to the car our olfactory senses and taste buds are serenaded by HOT CHOCOLATE'S chocolates so, of course we have to answer the call. Though it seems impossible for me to eat another bite, I somehow manage to savour a peanut butter truffle.

And, the car groans as we motor our way back to Campbell River.