Category Archives: Musings

Snowed in Peas

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Just as we were really beginning to appreciate that it was almost MARCH! It snowed.

And it snowed and snowed and snowed. And then the power went out. For like two days.

I mean, we have a wood stove. But as soon as the power goes out, the pump to our well doesn’t work so we start using our stored water. We are melting snow on the wood stove to flush our toilet. We can’t even make smoothies. Heaven Forbid.

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My husband is a bit of a woodsman, survivalist, farmer type. I dunno, did you get that vibe already? Don’t get me wrong, he likes his video games too. But he can get really into this Pender Island Armageddon, as the islanders are starting to call it, tongue in cheek.

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This picture (above) is Marc teaching Gabrielle how to make bannock on the woodstove. Yup.

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All the while, Gabrielle was running out in the snow to make snow people, running back inside for hot chocolate then repeat. She kept saying “Isn’t this So Fun! I love days like this Mommy!”

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At the end of the first day without power, Marc and lit the oil lamps and sat down to watch half a movie before our battery powered lap tops died. We looked at each other and said, “Well, it wasn’t a bad day…”

The next day when we woke up and the power was still not on, I said, “This is so 3 years ago! I’m over it.” We ran off to Victoria to have showers and arrived back in the evening when the power returned to our tiny island.

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Sometimes we joke here that we would be fine if the world ended. We count up our survival skills and we say in rather triumphant voices that we are living out in the boonies already, if society collapsed, we would make do and move on. But really, I realized how addicted to electricity I am. Yes there are ways around charging the phone, or heating the house, (with our wood stove which is a daily occurrence anyway) but I really really like electricity. We tiptoe on the edge here in my little life. We are gardening and growing our food, not because we have no choice, but because we prefer it. We prefer the taste, the nutrition, the kindness to the earth. We keep bees and collect honey as a little hobby. We make things using wood or wool, and we bake our bread and can our produce. But we are miles away from self-sustainability. Our carbon footprint is smaller, but it is still there, making its dent.

It makes me wonder what else can I do to lessen my impact. What can I do to make my own lifestyle more sustainable?

While we are wondering about this, we are reclaiming our house after the great power outage, doing laundry and dealing with the fridge and freezer.

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Getting life back to normal.

Adding Colour

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There is such a beauty in broken down things. But often I find that I have to open my beauty-seeking eyes to see it. Mexico is a third world country and on first glance, some parts we saw look rough. In La Cruz, the houses open right onto the sidewalk and often there is just a bed sheet hung up to block passers-byes  view right into their kitchen or living room. There are little kids playing with two-wheeled tricycles and bone-skinny stray dogs laying on the sidewalk. Yes, there is poverty like we often don’t see in Canada. But there is such beauty too. There is such colour and attention to detail. Instead of painting with white because it’s cheaper, they play with colours like walls are great canvasses.

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Sinks are all painted even if there are no toilet seats. The use of vibrant tiles pop against crumbling cement walls.

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There is so much life in the distinct Mexican decor that it makes me dig out my camera and want to share it with you.

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Sometimes the sidewalks are washed away with debris, but then immediately next store, there will be an ornate metal gate with beautiful designs.

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Between table clothes to traditional clothes, the colours do not subside here. This is something I would like to take away from Mexico and integrate into my own life more and more.

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Adding colour for the sake of beauty. Yes, I can get on board that train any day.

The ways I am a Hippy.

Oh boy. So I was looking through my pictures from this fall and winter, and I came across so many that would provide plenty of evidence of my hippy nature, that it was overwhelming. I am actually convincing myself that I have well-earned the title of Hippy. As my friends commented, labels schmabels, it doesn’t matter. But it’s funny. So shall we begin?

I live on a Gulf Island.
The Gulf Islands are known for their alternative ways. There is an excellent book by Brian Brett called Trauma Farm, about his farm on Salt Spring Island. (One of the islands in the Gulf Island conglomerate.) He confesses (or exalts) that he often goes off for brisk jaunts late at night wearing only gum boots. Only gum boots. I’ll let that sink in.

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On that note, my kid is naked a lot.
yup, a lot. I have quite a few pictures to prove it. And we believe in communal baths among the wee ones…. because apparently I have a lot of pictures of Gabrielle bathing with other children.

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(I might have to give Gabrielle double hippy points for the photo above. Naked Toddler Yoga is a whole new level)

I knit and I keep my knitting in a basket.
This is like a chic hippy fad on Pender. Get a cool African basket and put groceries, Farmers Market produce or knitting in it. I totally bought into this fad. And I feel cool when I do it.

 

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I take photos of the following because I think it’s funny…

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Ok perhaps the mustache picture isn’t very hippy. But I couldn’t work out any better excuse to get this picture into a blog post. Isn’t that bumper sticker awesome?? And the fact that it is on a PT Cruiser. It was a great moment.

I’m totally sold on baby-wearing.
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Gabrielle also chooses to wear her baby. Clearly it is amazing!

I keep bees.

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I lived on a boat.
We were on that boat for 13 months. Most of Gabrielle’s first year was on the boat. We loved living small and consuming little. Even though we are land-living now, we still consider ourselves to be living small and consuming little and that is part of the hippy lifestyle we are certainly on board with.

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Kale chips are one of my favourite snacks.For serious. They are tasty.

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Not only do I drink out of mason jars, but yesterday I tried to felt a cover for one of them so I could use it as a travel mug.I’m not sure if this hippy move can be overstated. I had this brilliant thought and this brilliant idea. So I phoned up my friend for a play date and we felted mason jar covers together. Yes, for real. And yeah, she had all her own felting stuff too. My felted cover is ugly as a three-horned toad and needs some decorating but it was worth a try. Now, I’m working on knitting a sleeve for my mason jar. I haven’t given up yet.

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I accessorize with feathers.
This basically seals it for me. I just renewed my passport and Marc opened it up to see the picture and laughed at me. “You have your feather earrings in your passport picture!” He teased. Yup. That’s what kind of good hippy I am.

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I avoid consuming electricity when possible.

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Alright, this one could be because I’m pretty cheap. I hate spending money where it doesn’t need to be spent. So heat, I prefer a wood stove. I prefer to hang dry my clothes.

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This is a manual coffee grinder. I own one from when we lived on the boat and did not have power. I do not use this now unless I have no other choice. The fact that I own one has to give hippy points in itself.

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I’m incredibly attacted to VW Westfalias.I have owned one. We sold it when it constantly broke down on us. But we have regretted selling it and it would not be surprising to find ourselves in the possession of one again. When I drove my westfalia (when it was not broken down on the side of the road) I was grinning ear to ear. I couldn’t tell if strangers were smiling at me because I looked so darn happy, or because it was such a cool vehicle.

The simple fact that this post is much longer than the one previous may speak for itself. We may have a mushroom identification book next to a New York Times best seller but nothing in this world is completely here or there anyway. Being very present, making time to enjoy each other, and living small are values that are very important to us. They lean us toward that hippy lifestyle. I suppose if you were gonna give us a label, I could live with that one.

Oh and how could I forget this one. One of the ways I am most hippy is that I am a doula!

End of story.

January 4th

Gabrielle is napping right now. So I’m drinking tea and having some lunch. We had cornish hen last night because it was on sale and organic and it was delightful. I don’t think I believe in reincarnation but it felt like some past self of mine was saying, “This is how bird should taste!”

My past self must not have eaten much moose though because I never really like that stuff.

I glance up at the date and do you know what day it is? Well, January 4th actually. Rather insignificant.

But not.

2 years ago today we made our way into Victoria for a routine check-up for our 4 week old baby and we were told we couldn’t come home. Gabrielle had heart surgery only a few days later. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while you already know the story. But there are days when things come rushing back to me and I have to stop, pause, give them some space in my brain for a while. And then be grateful and move on. It is the grateful part that is so important.

Today I’m grateful that the cardiologist called me and asked if we’d like to have an appointment before or after we go to Mexico in February. They would love to do an echo (an ultrasound of her heart) and they would like to use TV and movies to calm her instead of sedation. My little girl is doing much better when it comes to doctors than she was a few months ago. This improvement is mostly attributed to the fact that we have not had any medical intrusions that concern her in quite a long time. Again, I am grateful. So I opted to wait until after Mexico for an appointment because I believe if she had the appointment today, she would need to be sedated. If we wait another couple months, she may be able to tolerate the temptation of TV and no sedation.

Sedating a child is awful.

I am thankful that her cardiologist is easy-going and trusts that I know my child well. He trusts that if I see any symptoms or changes, that I will let him know. Yes, I know my child well. I spend all day with her, every day. But I hope I am worthy of this trust as I didn’t see her turning blue two years ago which prompted emergency surgery. Two years is a long time. And she can bounce for more than an hour without stop. I think she’s showing that she is managing fine with her heart repair.

And since we’re on the topic of Gabrielle, she is hilarious. I had no idea Two would be so much fun. A couple days ago, she and I were upstairs and Marc was downstairs trying to find something. He yelled a word that should not be said in church. Gabrielle looked up at me solemnly and said “Mona Kitty talks like that!”

I had no idea our cat had a bit of a potty mouth.

I have a suspicion that Ramona didn’t know that either.

I have one more baby to come before we head off to Mexico in February. I’m starting to mentally pack my bags, noting where the sunscreen is, the skirts and light cotton shirts. To put it mildly, I’m looking forward to this. Our renewed passports should be arriving in the mail in the next few days and then, watch out Puerto Vallarta! Here we come!

Lately around our house, it’s looked like this:

Stuffing Your House

My house is cluttered and crowded. I say it’s because Marc and I are “corner people.” Wherever there is a corner, we shove little piles into it. My friend Aly had this theory that some people need a nest with them to feel safe. Before the nest people go to sleep at night, they gather around them the things they find important. A cell phone, or an iPod, a drink, a book, chap stick etc etc. And then when they go out, they put these nest items in a bag or purse and bring it with them. Marc calls this (in line with the nest theory) a micro-nest. Thus transferring their feeling of safety and confirm with them whenever they go.

When I was forced to buy a new purse (mine was in tatters) the saleswoman asked me what I usually put in my purse. I said, “Oh ya know, regular stuff like my wallet, keys, bandaids, hair elastics, a snack, my knitting, a book, a writing pad, a couple pens, some deoderant….” (and on and on.)

Clearly I am a nest person.

Now, let’s not use the word, hoarder.

I am not a hoarder. I am a corner-piling-person, a nest-person.

The biggest problem with all this is that Marc is this way too. Yeah, and don’t equate this to the fact that we were living on a boat and now we’re in a house. Because our house is tiny. And we were corner-piling-people on the boat too.

Now, I say all this as if it were a bad thing. It is somewhat a bad thing. It means that things accumulate. It means I cannot clean well in the corners of my house and the spiders take up residents. -The spiders have their uses though, to dispose of the other bugs around the house. My nest is an ecosystem after all. I find it frustratingly easy to accumulate things in this society. Every week I bring bags of stuff to the local thrift store. And often I bring a different bag of stuff back in my house. I don’t mind this ebb and flow except when the flow into our house overwhelms our corners and starts irritating me.

It is not even spring yet and I feel this tingling in my elbows and ankles and toes to clean out these corners a little. When we were on the boat, we could say that the boat was feeling too heavy with all our stuff. Now, the house feels too heavy for me. Too much accumulation and not enough clearing out.

And Christmas has not struck yet.

So in the next week, before Christmas comes, I would like to free some of these corners up. But I would really appreciate your suggestions and tactics you use to get rid of all the Stuff you have when it just seems like Too Much!

How do you lighten your living space?

(Did you notice how there are no photos of corners in this post. I am not brave enough to show you all the messy corners right now.)

This is the only corner that cannot be cluttered.