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Friday, October 31, 2008


this is the ReStore in Camrose, just outside Alberta's capital city of Edmonton. i did some primary research there when i took my son back to the city to settle into his new digs prior to beginning his 3rd year in engineering @ U of A. the managers of this and several other ReStores have given me the grand tour of their stores, and each has let me pick his or her brain for several hours about staffing, budgets, operations, policies, etc. it's an incredible network of supportive and knowledgeable people who are passionate about making homes affordable for working class people.

ReStores are the retail outlets that sell recycled and donated building materials in support of Habitat for Humanity. Our local affiliate is planning to start a ReStore in 2009. in only 2 sleeps i fly to Regina for the Western Canadian ReStore managers' best practices convention, where i will represent northern alberta and glean all the information i can towards that end. this is the beginning of the realization a longstanding goal for me. i'm like a kid just before christmas.

Monday, October 6, 2008

yorik and i

yorik and i did a photo shoot. the local library and amateur theatre co. are doing their bi-annual "friends of the library" fundraiser, on the weekend before hallowe'en. the play is called Dinner At Eight, Dead By Nine. i've somehow been trusted with decorating (mwahhhahahahahahahaha). so yorik, good buddy that he is, agreed to pose for promo photos. the white candles have been dripped with the wax from red candles for a gory look ( i got that idea from Martha Stewart, believe it or not) and i added some gloops of red glitter glue/paint for a little more intense color.

the fundraising dinner theatre is the weekend before hallowe'en. so i get to bring the gory goodies home and have them on hand for my students' last lesson before the feast of souls, and i'll have the candles all lit up amongst yorik and his bones in the window by the front door, for the neighborhood kids as they trick and treat on hallowe'en night. i'm not crazy about hallowe'en, but i do like the kids, so i try to make it fun for them, and just creepy enough to feel adventurous.

Friday, October 3, 2008


you are looking at dried strawberries and saskatoons (in the glass apothecary jars... a bit hard to see in the photo) apples (fresh and dried) tomatoes (fresh and salsa'd - i have dried ones too) honey and carrots.... all grown in northern alberta.

i've devised a system of rating how environmentally friendly my food is. i live north of sanity. there are folks further south who think we're a bit unstable up here, just to want to live somewhere that can get cold enough to freeze the hair inside your nose every time you breathe, without actually freezing the nose.
in a particularly bad winter, many of us would agree with those perceptive folks. so i thought i'd use 'Loco' to designate that which is locally produced north of sanity.

so, using this logic, 'Completely Loco' would be anything that was grown here, or made entirely of things that are produced here. the meat of the lamb i bought at the local 4H sale, early in the summer for instance, raised on grain grown on the farm where the lamb lived, is Completely Loco. the strawberries i picked at the local market garden, and froze or dehydrated, are also Completely Loco. the jam i made from those berries, cooked down for hours, with no added sugar or pectin, is also Completely Loco. but it has a kind of pruney taste that i'm not sure i like, so i made another batch of freezer jam with storebought sugar and pectin... it rates as Almost Completely Loco. If i were to buy a flat of those luscious peaches that are trucked in from california or b.c. and have been all over the stores through the summer- Not A Bit Loco - and can them, with the honey produced by my nearby friend's bees, they would then be Just A Little Loco.

i'm trying for at least More Loco Than Not, so i'm doing my best to ignore the luscious peaches. but if i make jam mixing them with local green apples for pectin and my friend's honey, they might be Maybe Half Loco. i made dolmathes (sort of the greek equivalent of cabbage rolls, but no cabbage involved, and i use swiss chard instead of grape leaves) recently, using local ground beef, my own fresh herbs and greens, and canola oil, which is produced here, instead of the required olive oil. i did have to use a little bit of rice, which can't be locally grown, and lemon juice, also impossible, so they'd be Mostly Loco, i guess.... i wonder if pearl barley would work instead of rice - or millet. they grow here.... so does wild rice, if you can find it. and maybe rhubarb juice could be a lemon juice substitute. then they'd be Absolutely Loco.

i'm still working on a name for things locally made, from recycled materials that aren't Loco.... like quilts and rag rugs made from worn out clothes..... maybe Almost Loco