Monday, October 9, 2017

October Love.

It's my favourite month of my favourite season, and this may be my favourite October yet. Rainbows, sunflowers, pumpkins and sunsets. I'm sitting in my living room, surrounded in Home. Pumpkins piled around my plants by the window [and on the porch, and everywhere], produce boxes filled with garden treasures, sunflower seeds drying in their trays, cedar, sage, lavender and mint.. and sweet views out my windows.

Which totally makes up for the chaos that my work life has become. Contractor life is very unpredictable at times. Some jobs are nice money makers, others are a near complete loss. We never really know when we'll be paid, so having the garden [and preserving it's goods] has really saved us through. I hope I never have to go another season without a garden. I'm getting good at my new trade, but still I dream of one day making a full-time gig of growing food.


So yeah, about them rainbows.. there's been one [or a few] every day this past week. The weather patterns out here this time of year make them a common occurrence. Cool mornings, a little sun in the afternoon and rain in the evening. The sun sneaks below the rainclouds for a final peek before setting, creating these beautiful rainbows and blazing sunsets. It's just incredible, I feel so blessed to be here to witness it all. This is our first Autumn in the valley, and I'd been looking forward to it.

And the sunflowers! This was my first time having a plot to plant them since Ontario [besides an attempt in a bucket on a balcony], and they grew to be giants here. The seeds I've been carrying since I'd planted the first handful [unknowingly] on the day my mother had passed. these were the last of that crop, and now I can save the seeds from these ones and continue on with the strain.


The best seeds from the biggest flowers will be kept for next season. The rest, delicious snacks! The seeds from this mammoth are big enough to cover my thumbnail. I'm hoping by spring we can find a place to plant a bit of a sunflower field. They do well enough on their own, and love arid conditions, so there may be a seed-bombing in our near-ish future.

And these pumpkins.. It's pretty safe to say I'm obsessed. I love growing them, and looking at them, I love their smell and colour and texture, I love pumpkin pie it's my absolute favourite! And soup and roasted pumpkin seeds too. So next year, more pumpkins. Their patch must be updated, as this year's attempt was a last minute one. They need better soil and more space to grow.


In the spring we plan to turn, amend, and hopefully mulch their entire bed. This year we just dug little circles to plant the seeds and let the vines sprawl around through the grass, but as soon as they became too big to trim between, the grass took over. Next time they'll have much more space. And we'll likely have many more varieties. I love our little microfarm.

...

This year out here in the valley changed my life. It made me realize that dreams can and do come true. That some chances, though scary, are worth taking. That a vagabond can find a home. And that perseverance pays off. Once I had finally begun to find my footings out here on the west coast, it was a huge risk to move out to the country. I didn't know if I could keep working the jobs I'd had once I moved, or if I'd find other work if i couldn't. But I moved out anyways.

And I did have to quit both my jobs. And I did find other work, doing something I'd never thought I would get into. So here I am, in my dream place, making it happen. It feels damn good.

The only thing missing is my [friends and] family. I have made new friends out here, but it's this time of year I really miss everyone back home. Even when I spent months wandering with a rucksack on my back wherever I could make it to, I always made a point to make it home for the holidays.

No matter where I've ended up, it's always been in the back of my head that if things don't go well, I can always go home and start again. But I never really pondered what would happen if things did go well. I suppose I wasn't expecting to last this long out here without returning to my homelands for more than just a visit. I guess I never really thought about how it might feel to be so far away from everyone when they're gathered for a legendary turkey dinner, and I'm out here contemplating what I'm going to do with a holiday Monday.

Probably load up the boat and go fishing. My new BC holiday tradition.

...

That garden tho. Seriously. It's hard to worry about anything too much when I'm standing there overlooking my edible landscape masterpiece, admiring a mountain sunset. Knowing that I've found my place, land that I can grow on, and a community I can thrive within. It's hard to miss a place I love but can't stand to live in, when I'm in a place like this.

I'm so thankful for every minute of it.

That said, if you're reading this, Happy Thanksgiver. Please know that even though I can't be close to you, you're always in my thoughts. They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I believe that to be true. Not that I didn't love you all before, but being so far away for so long, I've learned a whole different appreciation for the important people in my life. I'm thankful to have you in my life. My friends and family [same diff amirite?] are my lifeline and I know I wouldn't still be here if i didn't have your love and support. Cheers to you this turkey day, and every day. All the love.


xo

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Dollars and Scents.

I'll be honest, I've been a closet Scentsy fan for years. The year before I'd uprooted my life and moved west, I was gifted a warmer. I loved it so much I gave my mother a warmer, and we would 'go in' on orders and share our bars. My favourite scents pertained to Autumn, and she loved anything and everything that 'smelled like Christmas'.

Given that the sense of smell is so strongly connected to memories, when she first passed away, the last thing I wanted at that moment was something so vivid. I gave my warmer away. As a matter of fact, I gave almost everything away. I bought a Greyhound ticket west without a plan. For almost three years to follow, I had no fixed address. After what seemed like forever house hopping, couch surfing, and most especially camping, I finally found a place to call Home.

My partner and I moved into a tiny farm house in the middle of winter. Given my history, it took me a while to settle in to the idea of having a home. The seasons have since come full circle, and now that Autumn has arrived, I feel the urge to celebrate!

I sat down at my computer to visit my friend's Scentsy page. I browsed around for my favourite scents, wishing that I myself had become a consultant years ago. Witnessing my friend's ascent from consultant to star director, and in such developing a well-paying career that allows for travel and lots of free time, [not to mention all the free trips!] I wish I would have sooner followed in her footsteps. Instead of just ordering some product, I decided to sign up.

I had so many reasons not to before. Worries of whether or not I'd be a good sales person, concern of what my friends might think if I were to sign up for a multi-level marketing outfit, doubts that I would ever make it work.

Needless to say, I'm over it.

Truth is, I enjoy the product. My scent to memory connection has always been impeccable, so much so that the smell of the sun hitting freshly rained upon fallen leaves quite literally moves me to [happy] tears. I love when that happens.


I am so blessed to have moved to such a beautiful place, but it doesn't always smell as nice as it looks. Farmers often fertilize their fields, and the well water in this old farm house has a questionable odour at times. We have a rich, beautiful, yet ever-so-ripe compost heap for our massive garden [which you can thankfully only smell from the zucchini patch], and let's not forget that family of skunks that has taken up residence somewhere close-by. All in all, if I'm not in the middle of baking or having a fire, it smells like, well... farm country!

Thus, I finally caved. Upon doing several web searches, checking local flea markets and directories, I have yet to come across a local consultant. I do my best to always support local farmers, bakers, craftspeople, and tradespeople [as I am a few of those things myself!], and so I thought, perhaps I should be a local Scentsy slinger too. I do enjoy their products, as I'm sure fellow country folks might as well.

Don't worry, I didn't sign up for this thinking it'd be a good 'get rich quick' scheme, but I am hopeful that I might generate a little extra income. Not so that I can quit my apprenticeship and go bohemian, I actually enjoy my new trade. But I'd love not to have to work at it 5, 6 and even sometimes 7 days a week. And not so that I no longer need to grow my own food, I really do love gardening. But I'd love to be able to spend more time doing it without worrying if the bills will get paid.

That said, if it doesn't pan out, at least my rugged little house out in the mountains will always smell amazing. And my old adventure van/workhorse will no longer stink like.. well, all the things. It'll stink pretty too!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this. If you'd like to share in my indulgence, check out my page... or perhaps you'd like to join me on this scented venture? I'm here for you every Scentsy need!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Happy VANiversary, StarShip Delilah!

It was a year ago we found you, and the weather was just the same the day we brought you home. First good rain of the season, a bit of a chill in the air.. and you were there for us. Beautiful, blue... patina and perfect. Best four hundred bucks ever spent, for forty thousand kilometers you have carried us. Well worth every cent.



You've taken us on so many adventures. To places I could have never been without you.. Camping in the mountains and fishing trips, you kept us warm and dry. Up mountain trails and down the backroads, to lakes and rivers and streams. You helped me find the most beautiful places, that once only existed in dreams.


When winter came, you didn't once fail me. We dared the icy slopes which bigger trucks had slid backwards and down, but you pulled through. And there was that time we took a wrong turn out in the country where even snow plows dare not go, and you blasted through all the waist high snow drifts with ease. I'll never forget that ride, the most exciting drive of my life.


Having you opened up my world. You gave me more freedom to choose a new line of work, and for us to find a home base far beyond the reaches of public transit. The freedom to explore the world around me from a broader perspective, with a little 'home' on wheels.


Thank you StarShip Delilah, for everything. For all those blissful moments 'out there'.. for carrying all of our gear, our food, our firewood. Thanks for not giving up no matter where we ventured, for laughing with us at those '4x4 only' signs.


It's been a good year. It's been a blast having you around, you're a real conversation starter too. That still surprises me.. it's not like you're a show car or a sports car or a big jacked up truck, but what you are is nostalgia. People love to see you, still out there on the road. You were many people's 'first', even best or most reliable vehicle they'd ever owned. You inspired complete strangers to share stories and memories with us in the most unexpected moments, and that's pretty cool of you.


I never expected what was to come once we found you. You changed my life. You gave me the opportunity to become comfortable enough to drive. To push my own boundaries, to challenge myself. When I was younger I never had the desire to drive, but you opened my eyes. It'll be a challenge to find a successor as my trusty automobile, things just aren't built the way they used to be. Like my solid steel, oldskool driving machine.


Moving out to the country was a dream come true. We couldn't have done it without you.. You carried our couch, our bed, and all the things. You helped us find a place to call home. So many trips for lumber and soil and garden supplies, you even carried the rototiller not just once, but twice! You're a work horse, a tent, a mobile living space. Thank you for doing it all, with grace.





  
Happy Vaniversary, StarShip Delilah!


xo

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Vagabond-ish.

Once a vagabond, always a vagabond. In mind and in spirit, and occasionally in body too. Though I've had a pretty solid home base for 8 months, it's hard not to feel like a squatter. I am, after all, on someone else's farmland. My partner and I both feel this way. You just never know where life will take us, where we may have to move to find work, or what might happen to this ever-changing landscape. We have planted seeds and established roots here, and have even planned our layout for next year's crops. But that doesn't mean we aren't ready to move on if we have to.


The nature of our work keeps us on the road most days. We usually make it home to sleep, but keep a bit of camping gear in the van just in case. And we always have a tote of food and water, a portable kitchen, and a change of clothes too. What a change from living out of a rucksack. I can carry a lot more things. I try my best to keep it minimal. Last summer I would drag my rucksack with me to work, if I didn't have time to make it to my storage locker in the morning. I'd be the one getting changed and brushing my teeth in the staff bathroom.


People get a kick out of us at lunch time when we bring out the stove top to cook. We have been asked on more than one occasion if we just live in our van, a question to which we never really have a straight answer. Last winter before we'd found this place, we had organized ourselves in such a way that we would essentially be camping at our jobsites. We were prepared to use the resources we had access to such as the electricity to keep us warm and charge our wares, and on some more remote sites using scrap lumber to build a fire. Every town has a laundromat, every gas station has a washroom we could use to get clean.

As ready as we were, I'm glad we found our little farm house in the valley. It's our piece of paradise. We fit in well here, and quite enjoy the country life. If we do decide to move on, I refuse to do so unless we find something just like what we have, only better. Garden space, a river out front, mountain views, and we're allowed to have our smoker and fire pit too.. we're kind of spoiled. A home base that satiates our vagabond-ish needs. It's kind of like camping, with a roof and power and ruining water.

Winter is making it's way back again as quickly as it left, and we are preparing. Totes need stocking with food and water, firewood needs collecting, and seeds need to be stored. We must look into purchasing some warmer wares and repairing what we have. The generator is good to go. The garden is winding down, the freezer is almost full.

Wherever I am, I am home.

Whether it's here in this farmhouse in the valley, or on a patch of gravel in my van down by the river, no matter where I find myself, I am home.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

3 years later...

Ah man I'm bad at this. It's been an eventful summer that's for sure. The garden exploded, and we've literally been feeding the town with it. We use our produce in barter and trade, and the freezer chest is full. Loads of it are just given away. It's a beautiful garden, my best one yet. It's a fair bit of work to maintain, but it's more than worth it.



It's been a long, hot season. It's rained sparsely twice in the past 3 months, and this is the worst season for wildfires yet. We had a few days of relief from the smoke, but as I drove home today I could see a thick haze on the horizon. We're enveloped once again.



We find relief from the heat out on the water. My partner reclaimed a boat he had stashed in a barn. It took us a bit to get it up and running again, but it's been well used since. We are surrounded by lakes and waterways and blessed with beautiful places to fish. Our season started out well, we caught 7 rainbow trout in a few hours on our first lake run. Only half the luck since, and now we're waiting for the salmon. And the rain.


Work has been ...interesting. I have learned a lot in the 8 months I've been working with metal. I am learning from the best. Our team is highly sought after in the valley. Contract work can be unpredictable at times though when it comes to lining up jobs (and getting paid for them). We've had a couple nerve racking lulls, but then a week later we're turning down work because we're booked solid. It's kind of funny that we live in a tiny little farm house, and work in 4-8,000 square foot homes worth millions. And some with unbelievable views. BC stands for bring cash, and man do they ever.



I wish they'd share the wealth... though our schedule is full, our budget is still hella tight. We just barely made rent on time for the first of the month, and with so many bills coming up [and a couple weeks before we can expect any more pay] everything is on the line. My wheels, my phone, and ultimately our home. If only we could pay rent with vegetables...


It makes me think about the perception of wealth. If produce was currency, I'd be rich. Therefore, I suppose I am. It's reassuring to know that if the economy went for a dump, at least we can produce our own food, and lots of it. We need to get a bigger fire safe for our seed collection.





Besides going to work and our occasional trips to town, we live a very simple, localized lifestyle. It's very old timey and laid-back. As I was saying about the barter and trade, it's a part of life out here for 'people of the valley'. Most of our food came from somewhere in this community, trading zucchini and squash for farm fresh eggs, and our tomatoes and seeds for the sweetest corn on the cob I've ever tasted. It's such a contrast from city life, out here in the country.


Which by the way, was always a dream of mine. It's been 3 years now since I landed here. 3 years ago I stepped off that greyhound bus. I had no real plan.. If you would have asked me right then and there where I'd have seen myself three years later, I wouldn't know what to tell you. I could have ended up anywhere, or continuously traveled.. I could have gone back east, back to the land from which I came. but I'm still here.. I somehow passed the test of time that comes with east-coast peeps moving west. many go back in the first year and a half. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't considered it more than once. 


 It wasn't the easiest choice to make, nor the easiest ride to take when i decided to stay. I've faced almost as much adversity the past three years as I had in the 29 years before that, but also experienced some of the most beautiful, priceless moments of my life. I would never take it back for anything. the places that I've been, the people that I've met.. it's just incredible. Even if I had to lose everything once or twice to get there. Even if I had to miss everyone back home so much to make these new connections, I would never wish it hadn't happened. 



If someone would have approached me that day I stepped off the bus and told me where I'd be in a few years and what I'd be doing, my response would probably be something along the lines of 'I wish...' and that's the craziest part of all. I wouldn't have believed it. Couldn't have even dreamt it... at the same time now that I'm here, I couldn't have imagined it any other way. Although I have these memories of my mother speculating how my life might end up if I moved out west, and it's almost creepy how spot on she was. I didn't really believe her either. But if I remember correctly, I'm pretty sure I did say 'I wish'. If I could only tell her, and hear her say 'I told you so...'. But I do. 

I do.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Just when you think it's alright...

Suddenly, it isn't. I mean it's not the end of the world or anything, it just feels like it in this moment. I suppose it's a good thing I have a hard time getting comfortable in life situations, because in a moment (especially when you least expect it), everything can change.


Sometimes my anxiety gets the best of me, but sometimes it saves my ass. It's too soon to tell which way things will go, but I'm doing what I can right now to be ready for anything.

As I was saying the last time I wrote, this past year has been one of the best in my life. I've made so much progress on a personal level, overcoming my fear of driving, building on a career learning a new trade, and finally establishing a real home base. Having a partner at my side through it all that doesn't give up is a real plus. It all seemed 'too good to be true'. Maybe I was right.


But maybe it's just a bump in the road. Maybe we'll get it all sorted out. Maybe we can find work in time before we lose out on our place. The feeling of potential imminent loss has made me realize how much I truly do appreciate where I've gotten. But isn't that always how it goes.

...

We took a chance venturing out on our own as subcontractors in a trade that's greatly sought after. We had so much work, we hadn't taken a weekend in months. We were exhausted, but finally getting to a point where we could get ahead. A couple more weeks of plugging away, and we'd afford our vacation.


When we showed up for work a couple days ago, there was no material on site. When it finally arrived, so did a cheaper, inexperienced crew to install it. Which was all fine and good, as we were about to jump ship for another company that offered us full time work and an array of new tools. As we'd prepared to do so, we learned that it's not an option until spring.

So here we sit, broke and confused. What just happened? How did we go from too much work to no work at all? Is this because I asked for a day off?! Be careful what you wish for, I suppose.

...

With little else to do but think, we chose not to. We took to the lakes and rivers to calm our minds. We paced the garden picking produce from the vines. This morning I spent making calls out for potential work, with no leads as of yet. And now I sit here folding laundry, catching up on chores around the house we've been too busy working to get around to, wondering what the hell we're gonna do to keep it all. Or what the next step might be if we can't.


I'm prepared for the possibility that I could end up on this journey on my own, once again. But I'm hopeful that won't be the case. Flying solo has its advantages, but happiness is so much better when it's shared. Struggles are a little easier too. Just in case, my anxious mind is listing what to do if everything falls through.

Looking around the house, I'm taking inventory of all the things I need to keep, stuff we can get rid of, and what all could go to storage if need be. Preparing myself to once again be mobile, living in my van. Mapping out the towns that might be best to bum around in.

...


It's been a long day. I ended up at the beach, in the quiet. No sound but the waves of the approaching tide. The sun is setting and the heat of the day finally wanes. I'm thankful for these places I can tuck myself away. I'm glad that despite my ever changing situation I can find peace in the chaos. I'm grateful for all that I have, if only for today.


x

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Summer Daze.

What the hell is wrong with me? I mean, I know what's wrong with me, and I know what I have to do about it, but I just... don't. I make excuses. I don't have the time or energy to take better care of myself. Yet if I made the time, I'd have the energy!


This past year has been one of the best of my life. I met my amazing partner (the one my mother described to me but I didn't believe existed), I finally started driving, I moved to a beautiful place where I have a monster garden, surrounded by lakes and mountains that I enjoy fishing and exploring.. and yet here I am, feeling like a piece of shit.

I have made a little bit of progress since my last post though. I'm working on my anxiety. I suppose I've been stuck in that "too good to be true" mentality for so long that my mind tricks me into believing that it's real. That if everything is good, there must be something happening behind the scenes that's out to get me.


Don't get me wrong, it's not all easy and sunshine and rainbows, it's hard work to maintain this lifestyle and at times, shit happens. And like in any relationship, there's personal histories on both sides that make it difficult at times to relate. But overall, I couldn't have imagined myself being in a better situation. This is my opportunity to better myself and I don't want it to go to waste.

My partner and I walked down to the slough yesterday to pick blackberries, when out of the blue my good friend from back home (who I regard as my little sister) messaged me to tell me she had purchased a juicer. She said that I had always been an inspiration when it comes to healthy living. It was in that moment that I truly realized I had let myself down. I felt guilty that I could inspire someone else to make healthy lifestyle choices when I myself am fully failing in that department. What a wakeup call.


Summer is nearly over. I thought that by moving out here I'd finally be in a position to do what needs doing to get my health in order. It's been 6 months. I'd imagined myself being a lot healthier by now, and having the energy to enjoy all the goodness that is surrounding me.

It. Is. Time.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The crash.

I haven't published a post in a while, though I have many sitting in draft that I just haven't been able to finish. Sometimes it's hard to find the words. 


I'm coming up on my 3 year mark of permanently uprooting myself from Southern Ontario, and a lot has changed since then. There have been many ups, and some pretty severe downs.. and though on the outside I have made a lot of progress and achieved some pretty rad life goals, on the inside I'm falling apart. 

My health is failing, being the number one down. My physical health, which I had come to master on my own through nutrition, exercise and meditation, I have all but lost touch with. This is affecting my mental health in a serious way this past 9 or so months, and as a result I have been pushing away my partner. 


I'm on the brink of losing everything I have worked so hard to achieve, just as I'm about to finally make a huge step forward in my career. If I don't get my health in order, and fast, I'm going to be in some serious trouble. I don't want that. I don't want to lose out on decent job opportunities, on the homestead I've put my heart and soul into, and the partner that helped me make it all happen. I must make a change before it's too late. 

One day at a time, right?

I woke up this morning, sick and tired of being sick and tired. I awoke to the realization that if I don't take control today, I won't have the energy to keep on working, to maintain that beautiful garden, to keep getting out into the world, on the water, into the mountains. 


I have everything in life I could have ever dreamt of and then some, and I have been letting it go to waste by letting myself go to waste. I don't want to be sick anymore, or angry, anxious or depressed. I want to live the life I have, and be happy. 

Today is the first day of the rest of my life, and I will make it a good one. I will only eat healthful, nutritious foods, I will do my best not to have a cigarette, and I will smile. 

...


If you're reading this, thank you. For your love and support and kind words and thoughts. I would have never had the strength to keep my head above water the past few years without you. I will get through this, like everything else. One day at a time. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's day.

The first one without her was the hardest. Being that it was the Friday of mother's day weekend that she'd lost her grip on this plane of existence, the emotions that ran through me at that time were almost unbearable. Mother's day, however, was never really an easy one.

My mom suffered from depression for many years. And of course, she missed her mom. My brother and I would always do our best to make her smile on her special day, but sometimes she just wasn't having it. It was one of the two times a year we could anticipate a phone call from the police or the hospital (or having to call one of the two).

This is the fourth one since she's been gone. It has gotten easier as I've become more comfortable with the idea that she's still around in some way, and no longer suffering. So it's okay to be grateful for her bringing me into this world, without feeling guilty that I'm in it without her.


We went down to the river where I set some of her ashes adrift. The weather was beautiful, and the trail was quiet. We hiked as far as we could without our waders and just enjoyed the views.

The drive back home was short and sweet, an eagle followed us back to the highway from the creek. As soon as we arrived home, we kicked off our shoes and stepped into the garden.

...

Here I am, in the mountains, with an epic food garden outside my tiny farm house. Sandy Shores Farm.. in dedication. I'm learning a trade, driving a van, and living the slow life out on the country. My brother has a decent job, a car of his own, and we're both blessed to have partners in crime to share our lives with. This is all she ever wanted for us, to have a good life and enjoy. I know she's smiling with us.


xo

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The adventures of staying put.

If you know me, you know I have a hard time with the idea of staying anywhere too long. I get itchy feet, the travel bug bites me pretty frequently. Or at least it did.. I'm not sure if I'm just getting old or I've finally grown out of it. Not completely, I still like adventuring, as long as I have my home base to which I can return.


I've had some tempting offers for travel come my way the past few weeks, which I somewhat hesitantly declined. Usually if someone says to me, hey let's drive across the country or, grab a flight my way I have a place for you to crash while we go explore for the next month... I'd be all over it like white on rice. Not this time.

Staying put is an adventure for me. Putting down roots and having a place of my own is a kind of unknown. I've moved more times than the number of years I've been alive. Most of my twenties were spent toting a rucksack someplace or other. Renting rooms, basements or storage lockers to keep my belongings in place while I wander.

...


There's excitement in having a space to grow a huge garden. Every day something is happening out there, sprouting, growing, changing. Being able to produce my own food and have extra to share sounds like a pretty good time to me. Having something to look after and put energy into that has a bountiful return. It's fun, satisfying and relaxing to spend time wandering the rows and maintaining the plots.


Our space changes every day. Structures are built as they're needed, then disassembled and re-purposed as our needs fluctuate. Today the bird scares were taken down and their posts became our fence. Our poly tarps became our greenhouse, our rocks to hold the tarps in place became a border for the zucchini patch.

...


I appreciate simple luxuries such as having a kitchen to cook and create in. I don't mind having to clean it knowing it's my very own space. I get to use it whenever I want. That's a pretty rad thing coming from a long history of rooming houses, hostels, crashing couches, shared spaces or no place at all. Maintaining my home and living space is a pleasure I don't take for granted.

I feel so lucky and so blessed to have found a place in a small town in the valley. The commute to work can be a little far at times, but at least it's a nice drive with a sweet view and not being caught in gridlock city traffic. The sky is always changing, the clouds put on a show. We see columns of rain, patches of snow, and often enough a beautiful rainbow.


We went to town to buy a line trimmer on the weekend. And I was thrilled! It was my birthday gift. I couldn't wait to take it home and make my yard look good. I'm stoked for the season to change so I can see what this place looks like when the trees have leaves and it's sunny all day.


Oh yeah, and I'm learning a trade which in itself is another huge adventure. I'm getting better every day. If I learn the ins and outs, I could be traveling in the future to follow the work. I think we're in a pretty decent place to be close to developments for a good few years to come while still being able to enjoy life outside of it all.

Life is good. And still an engaging challenge to navigate through day to day life. Staying put isn't necessarily an 'easier' way of life than being transient, it's just different. Maintaining a routine, a house, a garden, a schedule.. it's satisfying. Learning more about our little town and the people in it is intriguing. I'm excited for the upcoming farmer's market season. For summer, and autumn, and everything coming full circle.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

4/20

I never thought today would be so hard. 14 years ago today was my first day in the field rocking my film SLR capturing the 420 scenes, celebrations and marches for freedom with the crew. Matt if you're reading this, thank you times a million for bringing me along. It's also my 14 year friendiversary with everyone's good homie Clay, and his amazing family. Today is the first year since that I haven't talked to him on this day. I miss him. We all do.


Three years ago was the first Toronto march since that I did not attend. It also happened to be Easter Sunday that day, and my mama didn't want to be alone. She invited me over for Chinese food Easter/birthday dinner. It was the first time in years I'd seen her smile (with teeth!), and the last time I ever hugged her goodbye. If only I had known it'd be the last time I'd see her face to face.

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Yet as I stand here in this garden, they are with me. My mother lives on in the sunlight that shines bright through the rain. Our brother is heard in the excitement in our voices as we rejoice the emergence of new life. I believe it to be true that we live on in the hearts and minds of those who love us.


Today I am thankful for these memories. Today I am grateful to have my bare feet in the soil, watching my garden grow. For my life and everyone who has been a part of it, I am blessed. 


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Talk of the [tiny] town.

I suppose it's hard not to be noticed when you're the new kids in a small town, especially when the overall population is less than 150 people. People tend to be more neighborly, everyone waves as they pass on the road. Our epic transformation of the land we live on has drawn a lot of attention.


Though we live on a dead end road, there are several people that travel along it each day to watch the birds, or pick up hay and firewood from the farms at the end of the lane. Since we started digging, passers by have been slowing down to see what we are up to. We are now known as 'the gardeners'.

Last week a local cyclist, a retired officer, stopped by to chat while we were working the composted manure into our main veggie beds. He asked us how we like living out here, and commented on how we were blessed to have a 'million dollar view'. We talked about gardening and fishing, and how the small town vibes are much more inviting than living in the city. He was happy to see us out there working the land, and said he'd stop by later in the season to see how we're doing.


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Ten days later, our beds are already sprouting. The landlord noticed our methods (and that they're working) and asked us to help poly a 'small' test patch on his huge farm. He was so impressed by what we could do with our little plot that he had his whole family stop by to take a look.


Even the people at the trading post have taken interest in our gardens, and we've lined up future trades. Our gardens will produce more fresh veggies than we can handle and preserve, so the overstock will be traded for farm eggs and honey. That means come late spring or early summer, ninety percent of our food intake will be from ten feet to a mile away from our home. If that's not eating local, I don't know what is!


Hopefully we will have some fish to add to the freezer too, fresh from the river. Fellow anglers in the area know our vehichle, and stop by to chat when we drive out to our spots. Though we've only been here a few months, this little town has become our home. And I love it!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bring it Spring


It's been a long, cold and eventful winter, and I'm glad to finally see it's end. At the start of the season I had no idea where I'd be by the end of it, or that we'd get so much snow. Lesson learned, trust the almanac.

Moving out to the valley in the middle of winter was a huge risk for us, but I'm glad we made the move. Though it's not officially spring until tomorrow, we've been busy the past few weeks prepping our garden beds between the last couple winter storms.


The gardens are finally ready for planting. It took a lot of time and hard work to turn our compacted sandy, somewhat grassy yard into a rich, prime place to grow some food. Now that the topsoil and composted manure is turned in,  the grass is weeded out, and the beds are raked into rows, we can begin to sprout our seeds.

A lot of what we have will be started indoors over the next couple weeks, and after last frost the rest can be sown directly into the soil. We have 21 rows total between the two beds to work with, and a few dozen types of seed.

Our landlord was worried at first that we wouldn't have the time to maintain such a large growing space given how much we work, but so far even with shorter daylight hours we've managed to make it happen. It kinda helps that the van has been out of commission for drives to the city the past couple weeks, so I've had to skip out on the landscaping. Spending almost ten less hours a week stuck in traffic has given me more time to focus on other things.

My apprenticeship for instance. When I first started working with metal I wasn't as confident that I'd ever be good enough at it to make a living. But since I haven't been able to go to the city to focus on the landscaping, I've been working full time improving my metal working skills. It's another one of those things I'd never seen myself getting into but I'm glad I did.


Being contractors means setting our own hours, and since my productivity is improving we don't have to spend so many hours at work. We can indulge in occasional journeys down to the river to get our lines wet before work, finish a house, and still have enough daylight hours and energy to go home and play in the dirt.

Our lifestyle out here supports both my longing for a stable home base, and my sense of adventure. For once I'm finally able to get the best of both worlds. I have a place to call home in beautiful surroundings where I can garden and be comfortable, and I'm closer than ever to the wilds. It's taken a while for the reality to set in. Just a few months ago we had no real plan besides making it thorough the winter. And here we are, on the cusp of spring, ready to plant.. putting down roots in the valley. Thank the gods for our home sweet home.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Breaking ground.

It's been a long time since I've had a chance to reestablish Sandy Shores Farm, and I'm stoked for our new location. It's kind of ironic that I'd named the garden long before I even knew I would end up moving to the west. And here I am, on a farm on the river's shore, and our soil here is very, very sandy. Now that we have the first bed turned, we can think about how we will amend the soil.


After the snow melts again that is. It was nice and warm all week, and now we're amidst another big snowfall. We worked a couple hours a day all week to get a good start at establishing the first bed, which is now blanketed in a layer of the white stuff.


Collecting garden tools has been a slow go. All I have so far is the tools I have for work, a shovel and a hard rake. It's amazing what you can accomplish with so little and a lot of motivation. We used a pallet propped on an angle to screen the soil. As we tossed each shovel full of soil at the pallet, the clumps would roll down the slats knocking most of the soil from the grass roots. We could then easily remove the clumps of grass, shake them out and toss them to the side.


It was a long, somewhat tedious process, but every meter of ground we broke into was satisfying. After a few days we could visualize how we would lay out the first bed with our rows. I used my felco snips and a small hand saw to hack back some of the blackberry bramble from the far side of the bed to create a path. We spent the last few moments of daylight each day sitting in our chairs out by the garden to be, watching the sky change colours as the sun sank behind the mountains. What a feeling.


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I've been trying to finish this post all week. The snow has since melted and we're at it again, building a box for our compost. There's another snowfall warning in the forecast, so we're trying to get done what we can before winter comes back around for it's final blow.


We've been out here for six weeks already. We moved out here when winter was full swing with big dreams for spring. Bit by bit the dreams are becoming our reality. The clocks turn ahead in a little over a week here, which means an extra hour of daylight after work for us to play in the yard.


The weather changes by the moment. When we came outside a couple hours ago it was sunny and warm. The temperature dropped right down and snow is falling up on the hill.


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We had a thaw and a bit of sun yesterday in between snowfalls, so we grabbed some chicken wire when we went to town. Our landlord saw us out in the yard working, and said the yard looked really nice so far, and gave us the go ahead to start a second bed. We had a bit of an issue there when he said we could do whatever we wanted and then came back around and said we could only dig 8 feet of the far part of the yard. I'm glad he changed his mind.


Since we used our pallet screen to build the compost box, we had to use scraps of wood and the chicken wire to build a new one. We started turning the second bed using the new screen, and though it's taking a little longer, the soil is a lot cleaner. The next step is getting a dump load of compost. Once the snow melts. Again.