Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Jury Duty

Yep, it's my turn to report. I spent this morning sitting in the court house, doing Sudoku, and then they announced there wouldn't be a selection made today and we were all to return tomorrow. I phoned home for a ride and then waited out in the sunshine (yes, it's spring again, suddenly). There is something delicious about sitting in the sun on a weekday, when you know everyone else is at work, and just reading A Tale of Two Cities and eating a leftover Hot Cross Bun from Easter dinner and feeling giddily like a truant fifth grader.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Shattering China all Night

There was an ice storm over the last couple of days, but during the night the temperature rose, and now the ice is beginning to fall from tree branches. It tinkles through the icy twigs below like wind chimes, and then it hits the ice-covered ground and sounds exactly as if someone has hurled glass against a wall. All night I've lain with my window partly open, listening to shattering ice. It's fascinating!

Someday I would like to be present when the ice breaks up on the Great Lakes. I've heard it sounds like gunshots.

Nature is such an interesting place! So much I haven't experienced yet.

We'll see if my garlic survived the storm.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

First Day of Spring!

The ducks returned to our swimming pool this week. They are completely unafraid and come up to the back door to wait for us to come out and feed them. Even the dogs don't seem to bother them. Brio runs around and around the pool, keeping a close eye on the visitors, but so far he hasn't tried to jump in and join them.

The garlic is three inches high. The hyacinth and tulips are pushing up through the mulch and, in places, through the lawn. There are buds on the Japanese maple. Every morning I hear cardinals whooping in the hedge. This morning there is a soft, golden light gracing the trees.

It was an easy winter, hardly any snow and little cold, but it's still a relief to see Spring coming.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Still Thinking about Cooperative Living

Since my visit to Whole Village, I can't seem to think of anything else. It has led to some soul-searching and some tough questions I'm asking myself, things like "How well do I really get along with people?" and "Do I even like people?" How selfish am I? What are my motivations? How dedicated am I really to sustainable living? How attached am I to stuff? Am I getting too old and rickety to take on a physical labour-based life? How do I want to spend my remaining years?

I think if I had found this place twenty years or even ten years ago, there wouldn't have been any debate; I'd jump in with both feet. But one of the things that is making me hesitate now is the thought that I haven't been alone with my husband in about 28 years, and with an empty nest on the horizon, do I really want to move into a community of twenty or thirty people? I think I want some time alone with my husband for a while first. Maybe after a few years, after we've travelled all we want to and done some things we've talked about together and we're growing tired of each other's company (ha!)then I'd be ready to take on a community. But it sounds cozy to have it be just me and him, at least for a while, and I've been looking forward to it.

I guess that's a good thing to realize, isn't it? At the same time, I don't want to miss this opportunity, because it doesn't sound like openings come up very often at the farm. And I definitely know I love the farm.

Of course, I also have fallen in love with a lot of real estate over the years and have pictured myself living in all kinds of places leading all kinds of lives...The pick-your-own blueberry farm. The renovated Anglican church. The sweeping stone house. The cottage overlooking the lake. The bright and airy condo. The Tiny House. The Mid-Century Modern.

I like a lot of things. Can I commit to just one for the rest of my life?

I suspect not.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

A Co-operative Community

Today my husband and I took Son Number Two and his friend to check out Whole Village, an intentional co-operative community near Orangeville. Fascinating! Lovely! I gazed out over the tawny hills and smelled the fresh air and suddenly this trip -- instigated by Son Number Two -- became about something else altogether. I found myself wondering if I could live in such a place myself. Fields of vegetables and soft fruit, pond, forest, and wetlands. A beautiful, well-built house. And though I only met a few people from the community itself, the woman who conducted the orientation was a delight. I could easily see myself being friends and working on projects together. She has boundless energy and could teach me a lot, I'm sure. It was a place that would welcome creative energy and hard labour, peace and challenge both. There's room there for anything you want to imagine and undertake. And it's somewhere a person could grow old in, surrounded by supportive people ready to lend a hand or keep an eye out. I've always pictured myself living in my own space, isolated, self-contained. But there's a lot to be said for this kind of community. Definitely worth some thought.

There are people who say you should say yes to the next thing the universe brings you, whenever possible. I've always been the type to try to control what the universe offered me. Could I say yes to something of this magnitude? The founding principles and vision I agree with completely. Here's an opportunity to walk the talk. If not this, then what is next? If not now, when?

Much to think about.

A Haiku for the Season

Shouting like children
a huge flock of geese overhead --
the true sign of spring.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Starting Seedlings

The broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage sprouts are about two inches high. The newly-started asparagus and ground cherries haven't started to show yet. The lettuce in its trays has been producing for weeks now. This week I should start any tomatoes, etc. as well.

I'm pleased to report the aquaponics system my husband built is doing well, and the little tomato plants we put in it are growing tall (one is about 18 inches already). Time to move the grow lights upward.

The whiff of damp earth, the sight of small green growing things, tells me there is hope and light and warmth ahead, even while the freezing rain rattles against my windows.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Down for the Count...Again

With the whole family crammed into the house and everyone scattering every day to various workplaces and schools, we seem to bring home every virus out there. As soon as I'm over one thing, I catch another. We lob illnesses back and forth like a hot potato. Came home from work early yesterday and went straight to bed. Will spend today in bed too. I feel bad I'm just lying there when there's so much to do, but I guess it's a good chance to catch up on working through my training manual (I'm newly made the first counselor in the Relief Society and have no clue what I'm doing), and I'm reading a good novel right now about 17th-century Mennonites. So I'll curl up with my reading and my mug of mint tea and wait for this, too, to pass. Until the next thing hits.

What I really need is two weeks away somewhere warm, where I can do nothing but rest and recover and rebuild the immune system. A girl can dream, hey?

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Thoughts while shoveling snow

About eighteen inches of snow covers the world outside my window, like fondant or whipped cream, sculpted by the wind. I am taking my leisurely time about going out in it, because I've decided not to try to fight my way in to work today. The streets will be full of careful but stressed-out drivers, the trains will no doubt be delayed, and really, let's face it, I'm not that vital to the functioning of my office.

Yesterday was Super Tuesday, and while I am going to try not to turn this into a political discussion, I will pass on what my husband once observed: Americans (and I would add all of us) can sometimes confuse power with greatness. Being strong or flashy or successful or just plain loud or visible does not equate with being good or noble or wise or having integrity. And those qualities are the important ones. We idolize people who are wealthy and visible, like screen actors and sports figures, but perversely seem to delight in pulling down our own idols and flashing their indiscretions across the front pages. It's as if we praise the rich and famous while trying to swallow our own envy. Maybe we recognize that what they have isn't true greatness, even while we try to hold it up as being so. We want them to be heroes...because true ones are sometimes hard to find. It reminds me of my ten-month-old grandson, sucking on a lemon and crying because it doesn't taste as good as he thinks it should, but still he sucks on it, determined to make it be what he wants it to be.

Trump's campaign slogan is that he wants to make "America great again," implying that it isn't great now...but how are people defining that? Are they saying it has lost its founding principles of justice and freedom? Or are they really saying America isn't as powerful or visible or loud as it once was? What exactly do they want America to be?

If the majority chooses Trump, if he honestly reflects the prevailing mood of the country, if people are truly that angry, then that is the real issue here. I don't know all the causes of that anger, though I suspect it boils down primarily to the dichotomy between the haves and the have nots. America declares liberty and justice for all. Somewhere along the line that equality hasn't extended to economic equality, or equal opportunity for education and employment and basic things like health care and housing. "Liberty and Justice" has somehow resulted in a staggering percentage of citizens being incarcerated. Poverty and inequality lead to discontent the world over, in any country. I think people have lost their optimism for the future, and perhaps they feel their country's loss of power reflects their own.

I can't claim to know how to begin to address it. But I do know like begets like, and anger only foments more anger. America needs thoughtful leadership and effective solutions that identify and get to the heart of the problem, not posturing and slogan-slinging and ferocity. Blustering and trash-talking and flexing our muscles won't lead to greatness.

I am no longer allowed to vote in the U.S. because I've been away for too many years and don't own property there (though I still have to file my U.S. taxes, note...which could lead into a harangue about taxation without representation, but I won't indulge at the moment), but I will be watching this particular election with care. I think America is still great, always has been---but because of its founding principles, vision, and core values, not its military or financial power and influence on the world stage. Those founding principles are as vital and good today as they were in 1776. It's putting them into action that is proving difficult.