All posts by Alisonmoore

THE DAY AFTER THE ELECTION 2016 – Red Sky in Morning, Sailors Take Warning

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Those who have visited my blog Immigrating to Canada know I am an ex-patriot American, now a dual citizen of both the US and Canada, who left the United States with my husband after Georg W got re-elected in 2004. We left motivated by the Quaker Peace Testimonies and the need to leave a country that had perpetrated a war against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq under the false pretenses of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s) with over a million lives lost. This war continues today more than a decade later. For me, it has been nearly a decade of attempting to make sense of our life-altering decision to “walk our talk” and follow our moral compass north to British Columbia and Ravens View Farm.

I have been crying off and on for several days. Only after 24 hours did I realize that I am suffering from my own posttraumatic stress disorder, which originated on election night 2004 when Kerry, who looked to be winning, lost to George W late in the evening. The grief and near hysteria I experienced was a result of the pledge I had made to Mark, to leave the country if Bush got re-elected. This was now to become a reality. The loss of that election was extremely personal as I was soon to leave my family and friends, my home, my community and all that I held dear. (This experience is captured in  IMMIGRATING TO CANADA blog post Reminiscences Before And After The 2008 Us Election.)

Many FB posts and letters by celebrities say in essence “It is our duty as Americans to stay and fight for our beloved country.” This is because half of the citizens of the United States are united in fear and they are aware that during the Viet Nam war many conscientious objectors sought asylum in Canada refusing to fight in that unjust war. Many threatened to leave the US if Bush got re-elected, but few of us actually did. The difference between then and now is that we waited until the next presidential election  working daily, calling and walking door-to-door in an effort to get out the vote and elect a president that would lead the country mindful of the ideals of our democracy outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

It takes an enormous amount of courage to leave your homeland, your country. It is not a decision to be made without a great deal of thought and consideration. And for those who left, not from fear, but from a need to speak our truth through action, I hope that we demonstrated that there are in fact many ways to voice discontent, and emigrating to Canada is just one. Freedom of speech and to gather allows for peaceful civil disobedience to protect earth’s gift of water at Standing Rock and protesting in the streets of our cities. However one chooses to take a stand, it takes deep courage and conviction. This election has given rise to both and the nation will be better for it. And remember, no matter where you live in this age of technology, you can take a stand and you can fight.

If you are considering coming to Canada,  you can rent The Cottage at Ravens View Farm for a week. I will cook you farm-raised organic roast chicken dinner and share our experience with you  over a bottle of Okanagan Valley wine.

A New Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a New Parliament. A Renewed Canada.

A New Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a New Parliament. A Renewed Canada.

As a new citizen of Canada, having voted in my first federal election, an initiation rite as a new citizen if you will, I have been watching the swearing in of the new Liberal Government in Canada led by the new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, this early PST November 4, 2015.

I have been deeply moved viewing the ceremony. Thirty new ministers have been sworn in. This parade of cabinet members has demonstrated, from the outset, the intentions of this new government to fully represent and meet the expectations of a diverse nation. Prime Minister Trudeau has begun the process of fulfilling his campaign promises.

Canada’s reputation on the world stage is well on its way to being reclaimed. Ministers, representing every Province across the country, include first nation and aboriginals, francophone, immigrants, including from Afghanistan, disabled and women. There is a balance of gender, with 50% of the cabinet being women, young and old, veteran politicians with new comers to the political stage, all of who are coming with a wide variety of resumes and experience.

The opening ceremony began with a performance by two young first nations throat singers, who giggled charmingly at the end producing smiles around the room and finished with three young Métis dancers leading the procession out. Some of the Ministers picked up their young children from the audience and carried them out in their arms. A new government with young leaders with young children promising a better future for the youth of this country which is planning for its 150th anniversary.

I am pleased by the potential of this new government to provide new leadership and take its place on the international stage. Justin Trudeau will be going to the UN Convention on Climate Change in Paris with his new minister, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and CLIMATE CHANGE and Elizabeth May the leader of the Green Party and likely Stephane Dion, former leader of the Liberal Party, now Minister of Foreign Affairs. Crystia Freeland journalist and Author of Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else has been named minister of International Trade. Backing up the promise to cut taxes for the poor and raise taxes of the wealthy. A lot of changes being made and to be made to regain Canada’s reputation as inclusive country with open parliamentary governance.

I realize upon re-reading this post that I have repeated the word new over and over again. But I am not afraid of change and today I love being a new citizen of Canada with the promise of change with new leadership.

New York Times article.

Farming as Spiritual Practice – Pulling a Shambhala Card

Farming as Spiritual Practice – Pulling a Shambhala Card

I am one of those meditators who use the cards she has received as gifts to assist in focusing her mind, meditations and actions. During the months prior to my impending move to Canada from Boulder, my mediation instructor met me each week in the Marpa House for meditation and instruction. It was after one of these that she introduced me to the Shambhala cards. It was interesting that during that time I picked four cards multiple times the primary one was “Overcome Fear”. I was in fact working to cultivate courage, the courage required to become an expatriate and move to another country, town and community and build a new world for myself. A friend who sometimes joined us on these meditation days gave me the Shambhala cards as a parting gift and they have been in my meditation space ever since.

My practice is to pull a card, the single card that pushes itself up out of the deck in some way to call the attention of my fingers. I do not use this as a daily practice, but usually when I am moving into a new period of meditation practice, season, or find in a meditation that some further guidance would be useful. After reading and contemplating the message, I leave that card out to review as necessary and to re-read prior to pulling another card.

Today, I reviewed the last card # 11 “Synchronize mind and body”. It proffered a deeper meaning and I experienced a deeper understanding of this message today than when I pulled it some weeks ago.

“When you are completely mindful in the present moment, mind and body are synchronized.” This is precisely why I believe that weeding my gardens and beds on the farm is a spiritual practice, because it is one of the few activities in which I do feel completely present. “Here, synchronizing mind and body is connected with developing fearlessness …. Being direct in relating to the phenomenal world. … You have a perfect right to be in this universe. You have looked and you have seen, and you don’t have to apologize for being born on this earth. You can uplift yourself and appreciate your existence as a human being. This discovery is the first glimpse of what is called the Great Easter Sun, which is the sun of human dignity, the sun of human power.”

It is difficult to explain but since I have realized my dream of living on a farm and stewarding the land, its orchards, gardens and fields, I feel as if I have become literally grounded. I have been cultivating the advice of a mentor organic farmer who says “Observe. This will teach you much about what the farm needs and wants”. It is here on the farm that I continue the cultivation of courage stepping into new areas of learning from driving and maneuvering a tractor to staying warm in the deep Canadian winter.

What is more true is that The Great Eastern Sun rises each day over Okanagan Mountain and is reflected in the deep waters of Okanagan Lake to the east and each day I get to experience the sun of human power, which is what has fueled me these past 8 years now both as a new farmer and a spiritual practitioner. Living on and stewarding Ravens View Farm has indeed synchronized my mind and body. But it has also deepened my awareness of and connection to the sacredness of the earth and its divinity.

The next card? # 21 “Daring to let go the warrior is great in friendliness.” This makes me wonder, “Are the cards an instruction or an affirmation?”

October 10, 2015

The end of another season at Ravens View Farm 2015

August 31 2015 – It feels like the end of another season at Ravens View Farm

This has been the season of all seasons. It started way earlier with a warmer winter and then a warmer spring, which continued to deliver the hottest summer on record not only for the Okanagan, but the world, and possibly the driest, but that is not altogether unexpected in the Okanagan Valley, which is a dessert after all with only 9 inches of precipitation annually.

However clouds, not the smoke from Washington’s wildfires, have rolled in the past few days and the temperature has dropped with the light rain we received. Last night in fact held a maker for fall when I put on an extra sweater because the evening breeze was chilly. With the overcast skies I slept until the dogs awakened me at 6:30. But after feeding them and letting them out I went back to bed with a cup of tea to finish the book for book club tomorrow evening.

There are still some jobs to complete on the farm. Aren’t there always? But my sense of urgency to get out there before the day gets too hot to work has diminished, because my body, which is fitter, firmer, leaner and meaner than ever before, is craving rest, the deep rest that comes with fall.  And this is speaking louder than the demands of the farm.

Fall has never actually been a favoured season here in Canada, unlike my years in the lower 49 states, because it portends the temperature inversion that brings the blanket of cloud that put the orchards and gardens to sleep for the winter. It also foretells of the much shorter days to come above the 49th parallel beginning on the Equinox just a few three weeks away. This may be why I love the bears that are our constant companions this time of year. Their search for food in ours and the neighbors’ orchards, instigating the encounters with our dogs to get the plums, is a reminder of the coming season of hibernation – a reminder that there is a time for bodies to relax, for minds to release and spirits to rise.

This year I find myself looking forward to fall. I have grown weary of getting up with the birds that began to stir at 3:45 am and were in full song by 4:00 calling me out of bed by 5:00. But what a glorious way to start a day with the mating songs of so many species of birds that decided that Ravens View Farm, whose ravens had moved up into the cooler mountains, was the place to call home for the summer. With our daily refreshed birdbath and a constant rotation of irrigation on the fruit trees, they were assured a good source of water and as it turns out food as they proceeded to take a bite out of every fourth peach as they ripened.

This was a also season of new pests, from tent caterpillars to the dreaded spotted wing drosophila fruit fly as well as many diverse pollinators I had never seen before accompanying my favourite insect the honeybee. It also marked the arrival of more creatures.  We have seen more lizards and garden snakes and rubber boas this year than ever before. It feels like we created an oasis in the midst of the intense drought when their natural habitat became too hot dry and food became scarce. The insects and mice and rats (both Pack and Norwegian) and of course the snakes, lizards and spiders have all come along to savour the “fruits” of the farm. So this is a year of all kinds of abundance in the midst of our experience of global warming. With it however we lost a higher percentage of our peach and plum crop to birds who created the seconds that I and my customers turned into jams and chutneys. We fed the rodents a fair percentage of the chicken feed.

Now I have to address the spotted wing drosophila that has become the scourge of the fruit growers in the northwest and British Columbia.  My most important chore right now is to rake all the rotten Italian prune plums into black plastic bags and heat them up to kill the larvae and determine what I can do as an organic farmer to ameliorate them in future seasons. Without our annual cold snap that kills off so many of the hibernating predatory larvae in the ground beneath the trees we will be inundated again next year earlier with even more. So plans to finally renovate our heritage plum orchard through deep and strategic pruning are already underway with marks being made on the branches to be cut come winter. The result will be less fruit but healthier, easier to harvest in a timely manner at the just prior to full ripeness to avoid the fruit fly. I will probably end up with just what I need to sell to ensure the farm remains viable. I look forward to a more manageable orchard next year and the feeling that I have restored and reinvigorated the old plums.

At times I feel a distinct other presence in the orchard. Mark has identified it as the fairies that live in the trees. Now while I am in the old orchard cleaning up and contemplating which branches to prune, I am sensitive to the fairies that guard and protect the trees. I believe they invited us here in the first place to save the orchard and they have been watching ever since to be sure that we are good stewards. In that spirit and perhaps with their guidance we will endeavor to do the plum orchard justice and the peach trees as well.

There’s much more to recount of this growing season here at Ravens View Farm, but my cluttered desktop now beacons me to begin the process of filing months of papers that have been accumulating, lying in wait for this cloudy cool day to be addressed. And of course this is the year that the farm will be assessed by the Farm Bureau to be sure that we are indeed a working farm and deserving of the small tax breaks and lowered water rates that farm classifications bestows. There are always chores to do on the farm and now I get to dig into my least favourite, the paperwork.

Until my next moment of procrastination, enjoy life and all it has to offer as I seem to do here on Ravens View Farm.

 

 

What does it mean to be a Canadian Citizen? Winter 2015

What does it mean to be a Canadian Citizen?

January 30 – Canadian Citizenship. We just got our letter. We have been invited to become citizens. Our ceremony is March 13, 2016. This is the culmination, a final achievement, and a last step in a seven-year journey. It begets the privilege to vote as I have already been paying taxes (in both the US and Canada). It is a testimony, a commitment to a path, which took us to another country. It is also an insurance policy. Not only is achieving citizenship in Canada symbolic of “walking one’s talk”, it gives me permission to finally speak my mind and walk my talk here without fear of being deported. (As an immigrant, especially emigrating from the US, deportation lurks as a fear especially with Conservative Prime Minister Harper tightening up the immigration policy of this great nation that prides itself on being a “Cultural Mosaic”.) I can join my Quaker Friends to protest the expansion of oil exports through first nations’ lands and nature conservancies. I can be political and I can vote for the amazing green party leader Elizabeth May or the Liberal Party’s Justin Trudeau.

As a committed Quaker who strives to lead an authentic life, the welling up of tears and the rising of emotion surprises me. Strong emotion. It is joy, relief, and maybe even sadness – I have stepped ahead and made a commitment to a new life in a new country – albeit as a dual citizen. I have not left my nation of origin behind. There is a sense that I have changed my allegiance, but my allegiance is not to a country and not to a government.

However, what I realize at this moment is that my allegiance is to family, friends, and ultimately to spirit. My final and utter allegiance is to this beautiful earth. Everything comes back to a sense of place, which transcends all rules and regulations and laws. It is the unity of heart, mind and spirit that makes me who I am and makes me a citizen and child of Mother Earth. This is what Ravens View Farm means to me; sacred ground that happens to be in Canada, that called to me and invited me to steward it into the future for the next generation. This sacred ground is waking my spirit and my understanding of life, death and existence. The final frontier is actually in our own back yards.

Friday, March 13th, our lucky day! Today was the day Mark and I became Canadian Citizens. So anxious was I, it turns out I input the date for March 11, 2015 as our Citizen Ceremony date. So we made the trip into Kelowna and our friends came to celebrate with us, but as I said, “Better two days early than two days late!”

It was a wonderful ceremony so many immigrants from all over the works and all walks of life. Today 84 people from 30 countries became citizens of Canada. And there are only one million people currently in the queue to become citizens like us. Of course the journey has been a tremendous ride of applications, visa renewals, permanent residency and finally citizenship. They took our permanent residency cards, our proof heretofore of our ability to return to our community, our farm and now our adopted country. This is a culmination of a long life-changing journey. No longer are we legally tied to the racism, sexism, and increasing incivility of the United States as manifested in what is called a democracy. We are now proud and honoured citizens of Canada, which is truly a polite society that is incredibly gracious welcoming, and warm despite being the land above the 49th parallel. Thank you Canada.

Musings on Pruning in Peachland on Ravens View Farm

Pruning in Peachland on Ravens View Farm.

With 45 old plum trees and 35 young peach trees on our small organic farm in the Okanagan, the month of March invites us outside to begin the process of cultivating the farm by pruning the orchard. We get to study each individual tree and consider its future health, productivity and hopefully shapeliness.  For a person who takes time to carefully consider each decision in order to make the best one, pruning takes practice and pruning has become a practice. I am practicing my ability to stay present in the moment, I am practicing my memory of the key principles of pruning, and I am practicing decision-making with every cut.  Mark has been fantastic at cutting the water sprouts and dead wood each year and ensuring the overall shapeliness with his artist’s eye.  However over time the ends of
the branches have begun to criss-cross and overlap because I have not tended to this refinement for the past several years.  So it is time and my turn to cut away the branches from underneath. With the meandering tendrils of fruiting wood intersecting, I am forced to determine what to cut and make sure I am not cutting more than the
recommended 1/3 each year.  At all times I am testing the branches for strength, because the greatest damage to our trees are the bears in the night who indiscriminately pull down on the branches until they break to feast on the fruit at their convenience. With this in mind I must add that I am pruning the tree for strength.  It is this final consideration that eases my mind when I wonder, have I cut too much?  I am remembering the words of our first pruning mentors who came the first winter with chain saw in hand and startled us by valiantly cutting away the large inner limbs that sheltered the rest of the tree from the valuable rays of the sun that ripens the fruit.  “Be Brave” they said.  With this refrain echoing in my mind I realize that pruning is a seasonal practice for cultivating courage.  

Musings on the Equinox March 2013

Equinox March 2013. An amazing day.
Master teachers and yogis advise their students and disciples to observe the phenomenal world.  When was the opportunity to ponder more inviting than on this spring’s equinox?  It is a day of balance when the amount of light is equal to the amount of darkness; the day that marks the beginning of spring.  And what marvellous weather did Mother Nature share with us to proclaim the change of seasons?  A dark cold cloudy morning just like
all the others that preceded it all winter long; then a break in the clouds and an incredible bright blue sky beaconing people to come outside! 

And then a snow squall and brilliant sunlight, and yet another snow squall and gorgeous blue skies, then corn snow bouncing off the still dormant earth, and again the blue skies of spring.  Wow! It was a day to celebrate the seasons, a day to let us know that things are changing, but not quite yet, a day to wonder about opposites, dark and light, sun and snow. One might consider this equinox as a dramatic display of opposing forces or one might consider how
perfectly planned this whirlwind of weather, bundled into one day, the equinox, was to encourage us to pay attention to our phenomenal world.   

Meditations on Fire

Meditations on Fire, January 19, 2012

As I sit once again in front of the wood stove contemplating
the fire, I witness the endless myriad of flames. I experience the many permutations of fire and all of the many words that describe it.  The flames, leaping, dancing, embers glowing, radiating, smoldering.  I see how the fire ignites, how it grows in intensity, how is simmers down.  I ponder the periodic flames that leap out of the end of a log intermittently as if to call my mind back to the object of contemplation.  Back to the breath, which in this case is the fire.
It warms me and I feel myself melting, but not quite enough to drop down into a deeper place of meditation.
But it keeps calling me back.  My 20 minutes are surely up, but still I sit, still I contemplate, still I sip my chai.  Feeling all my senses – sight, viewing the flames – sound, hearing the click click click of the fan atop the stove that tells me by its rapidity how hot the stove is – touch, my mug in my hand and the heat upon my face – taste is of chai.  My senses are awakened. And my body, as I visualize divine light coursing down my spinal column, ensuring that my body
is connected from the volcanic fire of the center of Gaia’s core to the light of the universe.  Oh my.  How my body craves this stillness, this
calm, a more awakened state.

And as I leave my meditation, I wonder as always, can I
bring this lovely state into my day?

I asked my meditation instructor what was the import of
meditating on fire and she simply said “impermanence”.

November 30, 2012

This fall I have been lighting the fire in the wood stove with old papers that I culled from my filing cabinet.  Each day I grab more papers and I sort them for good one side to reuse in my printer, paper clips or staples to be removed before I crumple the paper and lay it in the stove.  It took me several weeks to realize that I have been reviewing my life of the past 20 years.
Before my eyes and passing through my hands are: mortgages and insurance papers for two homes, designs for xeric gardens and architectural drawings for a renovation,  old pay stubs, checks
and bank statements, odd clippings and medical records, and more.  Cleaning out the files was a process of clearing and cleansing and creating more space.  This has become a process of letting go. Each morning I am burning away attachments to my life, my history and my memories.  

The day after the 2012 Election in the US

Wednesday November 7, 2012, The day after the 2012 Election in the US.

It is interesting in this day after the 2012 election pondering what this means for the United States and how I feel as an expatriate.  I am still a citizen of United states although am a permanent resident of my adopted country Canada and will soon be applying for citizen ship having been resident for now fives years. 

We are expatriates, my husband Mark and I, having left the United
States after the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004.  When Obama was elected four years ago so many of our friends,  family and acquaintances who knew of our “defection” asked, “Are you going to move back now?” Well if Canada and the Okanagan Valley had not embraced us so warmly and so generously, maybe I might have considered it. But it is clear that we are meant to be here in Canada, in British Columbia, and in Peachland, on this lovely little “hobby” fam.  But of course we replied that  we will wait and see.  And how prophetically this convenient answer was to this query, because how sorely disappointed we have been in the performance, the decisions and the lack of honouring promises made by this idealistic and amazing young leader.  But when Guantanamo Bay’s prison was not closed down and still detains, to this day, suspected terrorists without due process of law, I wonder, “Where is Justice?”  When the war in Afghanistan, albeit an inherited war, continues as a Quaker I ask, “Where is the peace making?” 

One cannot deny that Obama inherited a hideous situation not of his making and was challenged far beyond what any president since Roosevelt faced with war, pending economic collapse, and countless other debacles that were foisted on the American people by an ineffective and glib and ignorant president who was at the beck and call of people fueled by greed and the hunger for absolute power.

So you can see my politics.  But what are my politics?  In this time of spiritual upheaval and spiritual renewal and spiritual awakening, where are their politics. And what do I believe is the meaning of
this election in which Barack was re-elected by a hair with a country divided in their politics, their beliefs, and their values. 

It is an election where people have

  • respected people of the same sex to marry. 
  • recognized that maybe marijuana is not much different than alcohol and should be legal.  And that the
  • understood that the United states is a cultural mosaic like Canada and not a melting pot in which everyone is assimilated into one, but a country in which we have our differences of race, creed, sex, sexual preference, education and whatnot. 

In a country that is nearly evenly divided, are we “polarized” or are we coming into balance? Are we no longer giving credence and lip service to the extremists, but realizing that there is value in recognizing and respecting our differences? Maybe we are getting closer to becoming “one”.  Is it blind optimism to believe that we are witnessing a shift? We all saw how Romney went from the extreme right trying to appeal to the “Tea Party” to becoming more and more moderate to appeal to a larger electorate. There is a coming together in this balanced and evenly divided election.  I find hope in this election like I haven’t felt in a long while. 

Permanent Residency Achieved! October 2010

Permanent Residency Achieved! October 2010. I am pleased to announce that, upon my return through the Kelowna International Airport Immigration last week, I received my permanent residency in Canada!  This process has taken three years to come to fruition beginning August 11, 2007 when I received my temporary foreign worker permit.  Thus began Mark’s and my journey north of the 49th Parallel and embarking on a whole new learning experience including, but not limited to, cultural differences, (new spellings of the English language), restoration of a six acre farm and orchard, a new geography with whole new points of reference. I am delighted and honoured to be welcomed into Canada to continue my work with Ballet Kelowna. Mark arrives later this week to complete the process. Much thanks goes to the Central Okanagan Immigration Specialist Woody Cross who helped guide me and the organization through the process over these past years.  My thank you testimonial is included on their websiteNeedless to say, I have much to be thankful for this Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday.  Thanks to all of you for your continued friendship and your support during this time.

In gratitude, Alison

Visit us at www.ravensviewfarm.ca