Silver Spoon

Just thought I would share the video that Zylo, Oren, Asher and I made during spring break this year. Zylo has been really into stop-animation and we had fun creating the vignettes (but did have some technical difficulties- old phone, old mac).

Last year Oren’s class learned the song (slightly altered for kids) and performed it in front of the school- it was so fun to teach them and they did great memorizing all those words!!


Puppy love

Happy New year to everyone! It’s been nice to have a little post-holiday breathing room, get caught up on band work, start eating a little healthier again and getting active. One way we’ve been getting our exercise around here lately is to take our NEW PUPPY for a jog. Yes, we finally got a puppy, after 10 years of delaying and making excuses.

Maya-13 weeks old

Maya-13 weeks old

Maya is a a Blue Healer X Australian Shepherd, and we picked her up in Vancouver when we made our annual pilgrimage to the Sylvia hotel for a couple days of big city fun.

Dan at the funky Sylvia Hotel

Dan at the funky Sylvia Hotel

Francois was the one who spearheaded finding her and it was the fact that he was keen to take on the bulk of training and responsibility that made us agree that it was the right time. Perhaps there was a bit of yearning for a baby again as Joah is now in kindergarten… The boys, especially Oren, are very keen on the dog. Oren had desperately wanted his own puppy for Christmas- and I think was the next best thing.

Oren and Maya

Oren and Maya

I’ll admit to being nervous. Puppies are like babies and I wasn’t sure I was ready to have a puppy tearing up the house. The boys are bad enough! But from the moment we met her we were all in love. Smart as whip, good tempered, friendly but not hyper and beautiful. Zena and I were chatting yesterday about how it has surprised us how much we’d love her. And overnight I went from being strictly a “cat person” to posting photos of my dog on facebook and asking other dog owners we’d meet out walking what breed of dog they have. Geesh!

Walking on the trestle with Maya and the boys

Walking on the trestle with Maya and the boys

Here are some pics as well of the holidays and the lovely, puking-and-pink-eye-free Christmas we had.

Lobster dinner with the cousins from Nova Scotia

Lobster dinner with the cousins from Nova Scotia

Claire and me with eggnog!

Claire and me with eggnog!

Gram-gram with the grandkids

Gram-gram with the grandkids

Ten Commandments of Twisted Vine

The lawn growing in

This New Years eve marked one decade of living here on our 10.6 acre slice of mountain. We rung it in with close friends and there has been much reflection on the changes that have happened here- from a broom-filled mountainside, to the beautiful welcoming homestead it is now. I would like to share some of the songs/poems/commandments written in commemoration of Twisted Vine farm.

A Brief History

Ten Commandments of Twisted Vine (by David Minkow)

l. Thou shalt have no other goods before us that aren’t homemade, local, second-hand, fair trade… or gotten for a really great price.

ll. Thous shalt not make unto thee any graven image (or gravenstien apple sauce) until the Air B&B page has been checked and the WWoofers given their assignments for the day.

lll. Thou shalt not take the name of the lord thy god in vain, unless a bungee cord is attached to your scrotum, or the scrotum of someone you love.

lV. Remember the Sabbath jam, to keep it holy; it gets you off the hook for having the chutzpah to pronounce the twisty Jewish Sabbath bread like it’s what Muslims are allowed to cosume under Islamic dietary law. (It’s challah!!)

V. Honor thy father and thy mother with clean sheets in the poptop and fresh shavings in the loo.

Vl. Thou shalt not kill… until you have a good story to tell the kids about what happened to what they thought were pets.

Vll. Though shalt not commit upholstery, when a blanket will do.

Vlll. Though shalt not steal licks- until you have the new lyrics ready.

lX. Though shalt not falsely witness bears at thy neighbours, unless they show up drunk at a house concert and don’t pay.

X. Though shalt not covet thy neighbour’s knife- just ask Zane to make you one.

Challah braid

Last Minute Reflections on a Decade Here –   by Zane Parker

Sometimes in life we seize the moment-

make things happen: a new life, a new community, a new direction

New Year’s brings the push and expectation of resolve

the hope of coming more fully into ourselves

Other moments in life, we are swept along,

as in a current- we may cling to the shore,

or the seeming stability of an outcropping, but the flow is relentless

will not rest, will carry us downstream like a tumbled river rock.

A decade ago we answered some kind of pull, each in our own way,

carried up and over the Malahat, trailer in tow- a rainy

and treacherous night, with no looking back.

Just the excitement of arrival, the expanse of possibility and

the certainty that life was firmly on a new footing–

as simple as pissing on a cold and starry night.

There is too much to trace the path this life has offered–

too many half crazy stories of falling trees and building homes…

but the urge to memorialize, to mythologize– our story,

co-created and held now, in all it’s perspectives, among those

gathered here this evening, and hundreds more.

I can say that the early deprivations were invigorating– crawling into a cold bed

after a day cutting broom in the rain; cooking in a truly outdoor kitchen;

scraping together the materials, resources, and skills to build homes

after the satisfaction of that first biffy, built that first morning–

the biology of life asserting it’s own priority.

And if work and exertion have been the practice of these years,

then family has been the cord holding it all together. Zylo learning

to walk among the tangled brambles of these slopes and the other boys,

coming apace, according to their own schedules, born of this land,

binding us more than ever to our small valley home.

And like any strong current, as it descends into more gentle slopes,

the thread of these years, and of our stories, has meandered apart,

and joined up with other stories– we can only follow our truth, adapt, rebuild,

and move forward into the next decade, always coming back to fire, food, and song

to the bond of shared accomplishment and to the memory of how we have come

to be here, in this very moment, the

culmination of our lives, so far.

1st Shabbat in the house

A spring update

Spring at Twisted Vine

Spring at Twisted Vine

I love this time of year on the homestead. And this year has, like all of BC, been especially warm and early. Not that that is exactly a good thing. I heard that we have 15% of the snow pack than usual so we’re likely facing serious water shortages. Thankfully we now have a cistern and it’s full of water that we have in abundance in the winter. We’ll see how we do this summer…


Grandma Flora’s flowering plum

But everything is so green, and the peonies, dogwood and lilacs are blooming. We cleaned out the pond and put an aerator in to keep the algae down and it looks so nice- we’ll see how long it lasts with this warm weather. Francois has been awesome about keeping up on the mowing- a job I was happy to have him take over!

love birds

Zena and Francois- Tofino

Speaking of Francois it’s been one year since his return to Twisted Vine, and he and Zena are as happy as ever, despite the fact that he and Dan have been working on Hornby Island doing the reno on Marc and Deirdre’s house since August. That job, it seems, is coming to an end thankfully (for us all!) I can’t wait to see the end product!

We have no end to the projects around here (as usual),  but they’ve been slow to happen. We really are hoping the composting toilet building will be finished before the Jamboree (we said that last year!) but I’m not holding my breath. First it looks like we might do the new shed out at the driveway…

There’s been lots of music going on in my life- when I didn’t get the tasting room superviser job at bue Grouse I took it as a sign that I should be doing more music, and we certainly are! Genevieve and the Wild Sundays are going to have a pretty busy season! And we just finished our first mini off-island tour to the Kootenays, which was awesome: such wonderful hosts, gorgeous scenery and so fun to share our music with such receptive crowds!

Wild Sundays tour life

Wild Sundays tour life

I also had the thrill of performing at the Vancouver Island Music Awards having been nominated for Country recording of the Year for “Farmer Ain’t in the Dell”. Marc Atkinson took home Producer of the Year for my album “Updraft”- so cool!

At the VIMA's

At the VIMA’s


Even though I didn’t get the position at BG, I will still be working there. The winery is having a grand opening of the tasting room on May 23, and that’ll be fun and crazy. It’s a huge space. I can’t quite wrap my head around it yet, but supposedly I will have my first shift in the new building this week!

Blue Grouse tasting room

Blue Grouse tasting room

I can’t wait to play with the band there! The Sweet Lowdown (who played an amazing sold-out house concert here this spring) will be playing at the grand opening.

I’ve been as creative as ever with my song-writing: hoping to make another album, this time with the Wilds. But I have so many songs that I could almost do another solo album… better sell a few more of the first though!!


The kids are growing almost as fast as the weeds in the garden. Soccer season is over but Zylo will keep doing soccer camps and clinics. Francois has had the kids doing all manner of outdoor sports this year: snowboarding, boogie boarding, kayaking, rock climbing… and that’s just been this winter!! Summer here we come….


Joah hits the slopes

Joah hits the slopes

Zylo at play

Zylo at play

Coming up to 9 years

So it’s December and already it’s freezing and there’s snow on the ground. Very pretty though to look out and see the icicles and frosted tree branches.

This fall has been it’s usual busy routine, shuttling kids to and from school, music rehearsals, soccer, etc. Zena has been working a lot and Daniel and Francois have been working on Hornby Island doing renovations on Marc and Deirdre’s house. The girls are holding down the fort and keeping the home fires burning. The garden is put to bed now, and we planted more garlic this year than ever, in the lower garden which has been out of commission for several years. It took some work to bring it back into operation- cutting down the brush, rototilling and amending. We had some wwoofers, Kevin and Leonore- this fall who helped get everything done. We also had a busy time putting up the harvest- mostly canning and dehydrating. Now we hunker down for the winter, turning inwards, cooking, playing games, making music….

I am thrilled to say that I now have a music video! Early in September, my friend David encouraged me to make a music video, hot on the heels of releasing the CD, and I had thought about “Farmer ain’t in the Dell” as a good contender for that.
I quickly launched an Indigogo campaign and raised the full amount in the first day!! It was amazing and humbling to feel that much support so fast! I hired local city councillor and videographer Michelle Staples and together we created a fun, varied video that carries the great message of “Farmer aint in the Dell”. I am grateful to all the great folks who participated in the video, as actors and for the locations. Check it out here- (full credits are on Youtube).

And on top of that, I’ve been performing a lot with the Wild Sundays, which continues to be super-fun as we get tighter and learn up new material too.
Visit our website for more:

Zylo turned 10 this week, and it seems crazy that it is nearly a decade since we moved onto this land. So much has happened, so many changes occurred and yet it feels like yesterday that little toddling Zylo would help us pull broom on the mountain side in the rain.

Last night we celebrated American thanksgiving with our extended family. Truly, we feel blessed to have all we do, each other, our health (despite the stomach flu that descended this weekend!!), and this land that gives us the gifts of food, peace, nature, creativity and joy.
Happy Holidays to everyone!





So we are now into full prep mode for the Jamboree. I am happy to announce that my cd is off to the presses and I am very happy with it!! Big thanks to Marc Atkinson and all the talented musicians who graced this music.

So as school wraps up and the gorgeous summer weather approaches we are in full-tilt getting ready for what mght be our biggest and best jamboree yet! Check out the coming events page for a LOT more details.

A Fundraiser for the family of Miles Phillips, and the Cowichan Biodeisel Co-op

When we first moved to the Cowichan Valley some 8 years ago, we were driving a little Jetta that ran on bio-diesel. It wasn’t long before we had bought a diesel van that had been converted to run on veggie oil (to meet the needs of our expanding family) and had joined the Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-op (the Co-op or CB-DC) to support locally produced, sustainable biofuels. Living, as many of us do here in the Valley, on a rural property, means long drives to get to Duncan, school, and services, and running our vehicle on alternative fuel helps ease the guilty conscience that comes with lots of driving. To date, the Co-op together with its supporting partner the Cowichan Energy Alternatives Society (CEA) has prevented over 800 tonnes of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere by supplying the community with its recycled cooking oil biofuels.
At the best of times it’s not easy running a social enterprise focused on sustainable solutions, not profit. Then last summer I heard that the offices of the Co-op and CEA were broken into. Not just once, but five times, despite repeated requests from the tenants to make the building more secure. The CB-DC offices suffered the loss of thousands of dollars in stolen property and damages. “Our insurance had a $1000 deductible for each break-in and did not insure personal property so in the end we were not reimbursed for anything- it was a complete loss” says Brian Roberts, Co-op President.
In November, CEA was denied the essential Gaming Grant funding on which it relies for delivering their programs, leaving them without core funding. Nearly six months after sending a request to review the decision, CEA has still not received an answer from the Province. Then at the start of the new year the Co-op’s biofuel pump broke down which forced closure and expensive equipment repairs of the Co-op’s biofuels pump located. This left the Co-op without the much-needed biofuel distribution pump at Cowichan Petroleum Services, and the loss of its main source of revenue for several months.
After hearing about these difficulties I began brainstorming about organizing a fundraiser to help out the struggling organization. When I shared my ideas with Brian from the Co-op, he requested that we also extend the fundraiser to include a family in need.
With the unexpected and tragic death of Miles Phillips, the timing of a fundraiser could not be more appropriate. Philips, who was the financial manager of CEA and CB-DC, has left behind a wife and two daughters now coping with grief and in serious financial difficulties. The Co-op is already supporting a campaign to raise money for the family. You can donate on-line at:

In the spirit of giving, there will be a community dance event taking place May 31st at the HUB in Cowichan Station, 5pm-11pm. There will live music from Bijou de Bayou, Paradigm Shifters, the Twisted Vine String Band and more, a silent auction, food, beverages and kids activities. Proceeds will be split between the family of Miles Phillips, and the Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-op. We are suggesting a donation of $25 at the door, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds or for donating more!

It’s not every community that is blessed with its own locally produced, sustainable biofuel service as we are here in Cowichan. Let’s keep our Co-op going, and providing the essential service it does, and help out a struggling family at the same time.
Come demonstrate your support and the resilience of our Cowichan community! See you there!

Photo from right to left: Jason Adair, Mgr CVRD; Lorne Duncan, CVRD Area E
Director; Brian Roberts; Miles Phillips; Daniella Parks, Vancity; Mark Fulmer, Vancity; Daryl
Giesbrecht, CB-DC; Autumn, Miles’ youngest daughter (holding green ribbon).

Music, music, music

It’s fall, almost, after the what seemed the shortest summer ever. It was a very musical summer: we went to two festivals and performed a whole number of times in various musical configurations: me solo, a country band with Zane, Kelly and Andy (The Cedar Shakes), a percussive vocal band with Lynn, Zena and Laura C (kivaBEAT), my band with Kelly and Laura (and now Chandra!) the Wild Sunday’s…
Plus we hosted a house concert and a crazy weekend extravaganza, the Twisted Vine Jamboree! Whew. I’m kind of glad to be back into autumn routines (though not loving the early mornings!) The boys are back at school, soccer, piano, swimming, and the younger boys are even doing tap (Oren’s practically sleeping in his tap shoes).

Coming up we have another house concert that I’m excited about:

Tuesday, Sept.24th, 6:30 potluck desserts/snacks, 7pm show.

Suggested donation: $10 for adults, kids 12 and under free

At Twisted Vine Farm, in our living room, unless the weather is hot
and gorgeous, then we may just do it outside…
Jenny and James will do some songs individually and some together.
Jamming will probably follow after as usual around here…

Please RSVP to me to guarantee a spot. More info on Coming events page….

I’ve seen Jenny perform a number of times and am always wowed by her
beautiful, catchy songs, lovely voice and glowing stage presence.
James is new to me, but his songs and voice are compelling…
More info on Coming events page….

I will try to get back into the swing of keeping this page updated…it’s been extremely busy…

Nettles, snowdrops and rain

I just found our missing camera and no longer have any excuses not to post another blog entry. It’s very long over-due. It seems that the longer it’s been, the harder it is to get it done!
It’s almost spring and many months have passed since our visit from the building inspectors. We now have a septic system installed and they seem to be quite happy with our cooperation there. We upgraded our electrical to code and will have our case come before the CVRD for non-compliance for our buildings. We are hopeful now that we are through the worst of it. The process hasn’t been cheap, but certainly not what it could have been. We were able to install a bell-syphon septic which works on gravity and so were able to avoid a pump. And people were generous to us with their time and energy. Thank-you so much!!
So we’ve been really enjoying winter in the house and life seems to have fallen into a daily rhythm. It requires more driving than I’d like, taking the boys to school most days (we carpool sometimes), but it’s what we get for living so far out a dirt road. Asher is homeschooling and I sometimes wonder if that wouldn’t be better for us as well, but I’m not sure I’m up to having to be mother and teacher to 3 boys. Zylo is thriving in school; he’s obsessed with chess and cards and soccer. Oren is learning a lot in kindergarten but is it sometimes a struggle to get him to go to school. Reports from his teacher are all positive so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what causes his resistance; perhaps he’d rather stay home and play lego with Asher! Asher has made giant leaps with his reading this year and seems to enjoy the homeschooling that Zena and Zane are doing with him. Starting next week I am going to teach dance classes to homeschoolers and am looking forward to that lively energy!
Living in the almost-completed house and being able to relax has given room for more creative endeavors (at least for me and Zena). We continue to play music, each getting more proficient on our instruments. I have been writing songs with near-abandon! Zena and I are involved in another Cowichan Valley Arts Council project, creating a dance piece with the Art House Collective based on “Why I love Canada”. It has been an interesting journey and we love the process of choreographing together. I recently leapt back into acting by participating in the local Vagina Monologues. It’s been a fun and fruitful season.
Daniel, while working in construction full-time, has become involved with Cowichan Natural Builders, an affiliation of local builders involved in promoting natural building in the valley. He is also in the initial phases of creating a building co-op with Colin (his current building mate) and John Lohson. While this is exciting, I know Dan wishes he had more time to be creating more artistic work. It’s difficult when he works so much, and then there’s so much practical stuff to do around the home stead on weekends, not to mention coaching soccer and having family time.
We’ve already had a few wwoofers/helpers this year and they, as usual, have been a joy. We have had a English primary teacher, Tom, who’s been with us for over 5 weeks and has been fantastic with the kids (as well as the jobs!) And now we have two young Quebecois, Gabriel and Olivia, who are keen and hard workers. As always, it’s hard to develop attachments to people only to have them move on. I wouldn’t trade it though, for the enriching experience it is for all of us.
And so spring approaches and the first buds and crocus’s appear. The energy the increased light brings leads to that burst of spring cleaning and organizing, planting and garden prep. One of Tom’s jobs was to finish the deer fencing, and so far so good there. It’s a relief to have real, tall fencing all around our upper 2 acres. Hopefully we’ll get a gate on the driveway finished soon… and then there’s the bathhouse/composting toilet, the exterior plastering on the house, the interior plastering on the Shack and Chalet, the finishing in and outside the house, etc, etc. The “to do” list is always so long!!

Zena’s Hearth-Lighting Poem

We watch the moon rise through the round window: our zen view.
A wall massaged into being by many loving hands
curves away in both directions.
And it is as though it has always been – this place, this space, this home.
Though the labour has been long and hard,
there have always been many moments of serendipity
making it all seem like it was meant to be
every step of the way.
We have brought our vision into being,
we have made this place,
but this place has also made us –
made us strong and capable,
made us patient and flexible,
made us generous and joyous.
The giant orange moon
growing over the trees
makes this monumental project of our lives seem small:
mud stacked up to receive her glow.
And small though it may be,
it has its own heart for the time being:
the heart of a family,
a community,
the glowing heart of home.