… and, I’m back …

It has been almost 4 full years since last I posted on this site, and true to the quote that I chose to feature as my tagline, in the space of that 4 years, I find myself another, and yet the same …

Things that have changed: I have moved from a large metropolis to a small northern city, exchanging crowds and easy access to just about anything you can think of to (mostly) quiet streets and almost instant access to some 330 bodies of water and a wide expanse of bush and forest. Another huge change is that I have moved from permanent full-time to temporary part-time employment. My life has slowed down considerably, and I like that, though I will admit that at times I do miss some of the amenities and, sometimes, even the crowds. The past year has been a period of transition, to say the least.

When I began this blog, I had a vision in the back of my mind about a future where, once I was no longer having to report in to a daily job, I would adopt some largish hypo-allergenic dog, name him Buddy, acquire a Tiny House on wheels, and then ramble about for the next several decades. I would spend winters in the southern US and summers in Canada. I started preparing for this life by buying a folding bike, downsizing my possessions, whittling my wardrobe down, reducing my reliance on electric appliances, and engaging in discussion with myself and others about the benefits and disadvantages of compost toilets and living “off grid.”  But as I learned more, and started following blogs by tiny-house owners, I learned about some not so minor challenges about travelling with a tiny house. You need a large truck with which to haul the house. Large trucks are not cheap to buy nor to maintain. You need to be able to hook the house up to said truck, and, once arrived at wherever you plan to spend the night/week/month, you need to unhook house from truck, level it, attach all the necessary hoses and cords to ensure adequate heat, plumbing, running water, etc. With some alarm, I also learned about things that can go wrong, about the kinds of  engineering and mechanical problems that arise on the fly. Roofing tiles and sky lights get damaged by low-hanging trees. Trucks develop mechanical issues. Plumbing fails. Black water systems break down. Things fall apart.

And I realized that as companionable as Buddy was likely to be, he was not going to be much help with any of that. A tiny house seemed to come with some not so tiny challenges, and I didn’t feel equipped to deal with them solo. So then I began to dream of Buddy and I living out of a largish camping van, which is less likely to run into the kinds of problems that the average garage isn’t experienced with.  Our travel would be limited to climates that allowed us to live our lives largely out-of-doors (because, as friends and family hastily pointed out, Buddy would need room to wag his tale, and I would need to be able to stand upright on a regular basis). The van idea might have worked, but it appears that even hypo-allergenic dogs are no match for my heightened sensitivity to animal dander. Over the years, it’s become clear that no fur-bearing animal and I can co-habitate without my requiring some serious medications. My pulmonologist strenuously discourages any such co-habitations. And yet I could not imagine life on the road without some kind of companion. So, back to the tiny house plan I went, this time imagining a tiny house community. That’s a plan that by it’s very definition requires a community. That means more time to design, to plan, and more people to do all of that with. When my job ended (more on that some other time, maybe), I had an opportunity to think about how to achieve some piece of that dream.

I am not just back to this blog, I am also back in my home town. As it became clear to me that my tiny house/camper van travels could not materialize in quite the form I’d hoped, I thought about what might replace that dream. I thought about where I might be able to land, for a least a while, so I could figure out what this next phase of my life might look like. When I closed my eyes, what came to me was the sound of the wind in the pine trees and of lake water lapping. Those sounds hearken back to my earliest memories, my most comforting moments. And so I came home a year ago. Kinda like a slow boomerang. When I left some 19 years ago, I flew out in a wide arc from Sudbury to the Pacific Northwest for several years before looping back to Montreal before finally circling back to Sudbury. The views have been spectacular, the experiences many and varied. There is an old saw that claims you can never go back, but that’s not quite true. You can’t go back to what was, but you can go back to something different. And so I have. Sudbury, like me, has changed quite a bit in the 18 years I was gone, but in many ways it remains the same. Re-greening projects have changed the landscape, there are trails and pathways that facilitate cycling and walking, and a number of groups have established strong cultural roots in the city. Friends and family have come and gone and stayed and relationships amongst and between us all have changed. Even with all those changes, there are still familiar landmarks and faces.

Four years: my city of residence has changed. My employment status has changed. My closest companions have changed. My long-term dreams have changed. And yet I remain the same: still exploring and still searching, still figuring out what the heck my life is all about and how I can best go about living it. The last twelve months have been nothing if not interesting and rewarding. There have been challenges, and not all of them were anticipated or welcome, and some were real disappointments. Sometime I WAS the disappointment. But there have also been unexpected opportunities, kindness, encouragement, support, excitement, and growth. It’s been a ride, and it’s far from over.

 

 

 

Air cleaners

So… I recently read an article about how risky indoor air can be, especially in long cold winters when everything is wrapped up tight. I know it’s still summer, but, and I cannot believe I’m about to actually say this, Winter is Coming! Ha!

So I’ve prepared. Not by sharpening my swords, or buying an army of castrated slaves (?!) [apologies to those of you, who unlike me, have managed to avoid falling into the Games of Thrones series] but by buying two rather large air cleaning ferns.

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Decluttering? Ha!

I haven’t posted in a little over a year now, and quite frankly I am not entirely clear about why I’m posting now. My best guess is that my newly hatched plan to build and live in a Tiny House has me energized, excited, and exuberant. I’m all eeeee !

Tonight I am struck by an irony that i just have to write about. The past several weeks have seen me put the beginnings of my Tiny House plan into effect by downsizing. De cluttering. Getting rid of things I do not need, do not use, or can find ways of living without. At the same time, I’m trying to explore ways of reducing what I buy. For some time now, for years, really, I’ve been bringing my lunch to work everyday in reusable containers. This is not new. My kids, now grown, like to recall how I tortured them by forcing them to cut open and wash the bags our milk came in and to use them to pack their sandwiches for their school lunches. They had no quarrel with the concept, they just hated washing and drying the smelly milk bags. I totally got that, but for the good of the environment…

Nowadays, I don’t drink milk, nor do I eat much bread (how things change!), and instead I eat HUGE salads. Yummy salads! And, since we now know plastic is not so safe ( sorry, kids! Who knew?!), I’ve bought lovely and, incidentally, incredibly heavy glass containers for carrying my lunches back and forth. I have developed serious upper body strength lugging them around, I kid you not!

Lately, though, I have found myself dreading the prospect of carrying all that heavy glass. I don’t think it’s entirely my imagination that my bike tends to lean towards whichever side the panier holding my lunch happens to be on! So, tonight I decided to do something about it, and googled lunch containers. And I found some. Lovely, light, stainless steel to-go tiffin buckets with it’s own completely recycled cotton carry bag. Listed right next to that set was super light “bambu” cutlery with its long lasting, totally biodegradable, and cleanable cork cover (and I wasn’t even looming for cutlery but there it was in all it’s environmentally appropriate glory! Who could resist?) and right beside that, abeego resusable, washable, and also long lasting cloth/wax/resin food wrapper. (You can find all this and more at Fenigo, but if you click on that link you can’t say I didn’t warn you!)

So now I have a full set of litter-less, reusable and super environmentally friendly lunch paraphernalia. So. What to do with all the heavy glass containers? It’s not really a problem since I do tend to run low at grocery time (I use them to keep food in my fridge and cupboards as I haven’t bought plastic wrap or tinfoil in over a decade either.) But, and now we’re back to the ironic part, it does seem odd that I’m decluttering and acquiring all at the same time, and all in the name of sustainability and being environmentally friendly.

This downsizing is clearly going to be a bit of a challenge for me.

my so-called NEW life

I’m now close to two months into the Great American Apparel Diet (which gets coverage here), and a month and half into my new car-free lifestyle, and so far?

so far, pretty darn good! I’ve been taking public transit all over, and once I learned the trick of using my iPhone to get directions, that’s been even easier than I thought it would be. I’ve taken a couple cabs, but not as many as I thought I might (though they’re easy too, and around the same cost and often even cheaper than it would be to take my car and park …)

But the first time I really and truly realized exactly how liberating it is not have a car is when I began making vacation plans just recently. I thought this would be one of the real tests: I thought for sure I would want a car to get from here to wherever it is I plan to vacation, but lo and behold… when the first suggestion came in (our second annual trip to Stratford Ontario for the Shakespeare festival) I was a wee bit surprised to realize that when faced with the choice of travelling via rented car (I would do all the driving) versus train, I barely even had to think twice. I asked myself the question and myself shot back “train!” without hesitation. Like a rochart test, only reversed. Where a roshart test usually involves someone looking at an image and then saying aloud the first thing that comes to mind, my brain heard “vacation” and created an instant image of me sitting in a train, my travelling companions lounging nearby, books, knitting, bar car nearby …. (and this was even before I went to the via rail website and read this description)

I immediately realized my brain was onto something … I find that image so much more appealing than the one where I’m sitting hunched over a steering wheel, looking at endless miles of black asphalt, dotted while lines and the rear ends of vehicles weaving in and out just up ahead while headlights swoop from behind and and glare at me from the rear-view mirror just above.

I even did a little digging and learned that while the train won’t be very much less than renting a car, it sure as heck won’t be more. So far, it’s win-win!

I truly did not think the car-free thing would hold when it came to travel outside the city limits. Stratford will work, so will Toronto, Ottawa and most other places.

So, the next test is, how will being car-free impact on camping, biking, and the other fun stuff summer usually brings? I dunno yet, but I’m looking forward to that roshart test!

As for the Great American Apparel Diet? So far, not buying any clothes – Just knitting them. But hey, I didn’t buy new yarn! My rule is (and verified by my fellow dieters) I can knit using yarn already in my stash. Stashes do come in handy, that’s all I have to say!

Petal Halter

I was just looking over the patterns in the soon-to-be-released spring edition of Interweave knits, and here’s the top that everyone is going to be knitting. Well, maybe not everyone. I will be, and I’ll bet a lot of others too. It’s gorgeous.

I’m curious about how it’s made, though. Not being a designer myself I find it hard to figure out other people’s patterns. This one looks as though you might be knitting in strips and sewing together? I can’t wait to get my hands on the pattern and check it out! Trouble is, I am not sure if my subscription has already expired or is about to expire… I was going to be good and not subscribe to any more knitting magazines (or any magazine, really, but since I dropped the New Yorker knitting mags are the only ones left). I fully intend to not have them delivered automatically and instead only buy those I truly (and desperately!) have to have. And I do have to have this one right? Maybe that warrants subscribing so I don’t miss out. Like I did on the cabled yoke pullover a few months back …
something to think about.