Saturday, 28 February 2015

Looking forward

The temperature rose to almost freezing point today. The sky was clear, the sun positively warm, and the light on the snow was dazzling. It was enough to make me think that just maybe spring might come after all. After a month of -30 and more, it was a welcome relief.

So I celebrated by ordering my seeds for the garden. I already have a lot of the seeds I need, gleaned from last year's harvest, but I like to try new things occasionally too. This year I'm introducing Crystal Apple white cucumbers, golden beets, and Snow Cap beans to the usual mix. I love to prowl (Baker Creek Seeds) because they have such a range of unusual things available, they include fascinating histories of each seed, and the photos are absolutely beautiful. You want to lick the computer screen, their fruits and vegetables look so good. I study my garden and draw plan after plan, deciding how best to squeeze everything in, not wasting an inch.

I'm also getting ready to start trays on my counter under the grow lights. It's too early for the vegetable starts for the garden, but I want to start some lettuce just for indoors. I want to smell moist earth and bite into lettuce that is so fresh it's still breathing.  (If you haven't ever tried that, try it. Put fresh-cut lettuce in a plastic bag and close it tightly with the air forced out of the bag. In a little while you'll find the bag tight full of air again as the plants respirate.) Now that's fresh! And just a tiny bit disturbing, to remember that we are eating a living thing. I remember a quote I read once, about how to you it's just an apple, but to the tree, it's a child. It reminds us not to waste a single bit, to appreciate and give thanks, and to be more cognizant of our place in the world of living things.

I sort the packets of last year's seeds and run my fingers through the cheerfully-coloured beans and feel as if I'm reconnecting with old friends. I can't wait to get my hands dirty.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Grant Garner

My uncle Grant was killed yesterday, hit by a car while riding his bike home from work. He was 60 years old, and an Engineer for Hewlett-Packard. I haven't seen Grant since I was a newlywed, because we lived so far apart, but I remember him well. He stayed with my family for a while when I was a kid, and I remember watching him for hours, working on tiny circuit boards in a room in our basement. He was careful and meticulous and patient and gentle, and I am heartbroken for my dad and his other siblings, and for Grant's four kids.

One moment of inattention, one turn of a steering wheel -- whatever it was -- and it has such huge and lasting consequences. Everyone be careful today, stay safe, and look out for each other.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Blueberry Farm for Sale

Wilson's Organic Blueberry Farm is for sale, out in Tweed, Ontario. Two acres of mature berry bushes and four acres of potential crop land, on a highway in an ideal spot, with an established pick-your-own business and a thousand clientele. And it's affordable. I want to sell my house and go raise blueberries.

I also want to rent a villa in Italy and take up cheesemaking.

And I want to get a cottage in the woods and spend my days walking the dogs along the river.

And I want to get a sleek condo in Toronto and dedicate my time to writing.

And I want to reduce down to a Tiny House.

And I want to not own anything but just travel the world.

And I want to teach English in Bhutan.


Which is why I will never make up my mind or actually do anything.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Why Do Humans Live Here?

I stepped out the back door and my nose froze shut. Today's high temperature is -35.

Meanwhile my cousin is hiking in Utah and posted this photo:


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Finding my Focus After Two Years

So I've been writing this blog for over two years now (I dislike the word "blogging" -- it sounds like something you would do in the hold of a pirate ship, with grog, or a whip, like flogging--either way, something one would do in private) and I think I've finally found the theme running through it. All my life I've had trouble narrowing down my scope. I want to be involved in everything, study everything, go everywhere...hence the three unfinished Masters Degrees in various subjects...hence the constant moving or wanting to move...and I dislike closing doors in general. I like variety and don't have a very long attention span. I play many roles -- wife, mother, grandmother, employee, writer, teacher, speaker, gardener... and I like it like that. Even my reading reflects it, as I jump from fiction to non-fiction through a range of topics.

My editor tells me it's difficult to market my books because I don't fit into one specific genre. I've written a romance, two historical fiction novels (with traces of romance or mystery), two mysteries, and a biography, and I have a children's book coming out this year. With most authors you can pick up their books and know what you're likely to get. They stick to one field and so they can find a following pretty easily. My books, like me, refuse to be pigeonholed. The Committee once called me in to get a look at me, because they weren't entirely convinced I was one person writing all these different stories.

I think my blog suffers from the same scatteredness...scatterliness? You know what I mean. Each posting is about something different, whatever pops into my head that day. But I do think, looking back on my posts, that some general themes keep emerging. Gardening, of course, and self reliance. Simplifying life and getting down to the basics. Slowing down the feverish rat race. Counting my blessings. I think all of them can be wrapped up into this: provident living and gratitude. With occasional tangents. I think, if that's what my life ends up being about in the end, I'm content with that.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Downsizing, Tiny Homes, and Issues of Practicality

Son Number One and his family are living with us now. They left everything in storage in Fort Frances and arrived with three duffel bags and a car seat. We've squeezed them into our house -- between seven people, two dogs, two frogs, and now 23 weekly music students, it's like living in a bus station -- but it works.

I've always liked watching TV shows having to do with interior design or architecture ("Buying Alaska" and "George Clarke's Amazing Spaces" and "Tiny House Nation" are favourites), and I'm toying with fantasies about paring down into a tiny home myself one day. As we were watching TV the other night, Son Number One remarked, "That's essentially what we've done." Sure enough, they've pulled out the most essential belongings and left the rest behind. Even if that's just temporary, it does give them a sense of having scaled down into a tiny home (two small bedrooms).

So it's doable. It's possible.

I look at my own belongings with critical eyes, assessing what I would consider vital or important or cherished. And I think I could walk away from most of it, quite frankly. The things I would want to keep are impractical, really, and important purely on an emotional level -- though that makes them no less valuable, I suppose. We shouldn't discount emotion when assessing the value of things. Grandpa's horse collar. Grandma's quilt. Homemade Christmas tree ornaments. Mother-in-law's antique wash stand. These things are important to me because of who once owned them and who gave them to me. At the same time, I realize that many of the things I truly value, I don't display. I keep them wrapped up in the basement, because my current house -- decorated in Italian Zen style -- is not welcoming to such things as giant horse collars and bright pink patchwork quilts. Does that mean the house I currently have does not reflect what is truly important to me? Is that why I have never loved it or felt permanent here? Is that why I am continually looking through to view other homes and possibilities?

I like my house, don't get me wrong. It's warm and spacious enough to accommodate my family without much struggle. I like its golden overtones and Japanese touch. I like that there is a space to fit in all of our interests -- drafting table, piano, music student area, long kitchen counters, grow lights. I think it's unusual and "elegantly quirky" in some ways. I've always thought it reflects my taste. But I think I could walk away from it without a huge hole left in my heart. Maybe I have been too focused on making it "nicely decorated" or "inviting" and haven't made it uniquely mine. (As much as one can in a house filled with seven people, that is.) It's a startling thought, because I thought we had created a space that reflects our personalities. We picked the colours, agreed on finishings, etc. without fuss, because my husband and I have very compatible likes and dislikes. It fit us. But maybe it doesn't fit as well as I thought.

Maybe I need a home that will accommodate horse collars.