Hello, Spring? Where are you?

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Agh, this winter has trudged on and on. The weather is unpredictable and we’ve had an inordinate amount of snowfall. According to some sources, between October and now, the power has gone out at least eleven times, for a minimum of six hours, more often than not, considerably longer. As this is a small island, it’s inevitable we lose power during a late evening storm and the repair crews can’t get here until the first ferry in the morning. They do an incredible job, and I wholeheartedly applaud them, but this wintry weather is quite enough, thank-you-very-much!

Roo, bless his little heart, turned six months old yesterday. He’s a whopping 44.3 pounds of joyous, loving, sharpei. Here’s a pic. I think he looks like a tadpole.

Last year was all about the house and I’m delighted with the results. I have the tile for the kitchen and laundry room. Those jobs will get done during the summer months. The bathroom reno will have to wait, as will the baseboards. This year is all about the garden.

I developed my five year plan and a “fellow in the permaculture know” dropped by to walk the property with me and go over my notes. I’m pleased he agreed with my ideas and added some great ones of his own. (No surprise there!) In between snowfalls, I bought and planted a bare-root apple combo. It has Fuji, Braeburn, Red Delicious, Gala, and Honecrisp grafts to the main root-stock. How wonderful that tree will be in the future! Tomorrow afternoon I meet Peter of TreeEater Nursery on Denman Island and pick up the following: 2 Autumn Olive “Portunguese Superhero, 1 Goji Berry, 1 Goumi Berry, 1 Jujube – Li, 1 Pomegranate, 2 Paw Paw, 2 Persimmon, 2 Seaberry/Seabuckthorn, 1 Honey Locust, 4 Comfrey, and 2 GOBO! Yeehaw! This is the beginning of my forest garden, I’m bursting with excitement.

First things first, though. Clearing up the brambles which were cut down last year. What a mountain that is. Each time I slot time to get outside and tidy up, it snows. I am hopeful this weekend will be different. Things must get done this weekend, rain or shine. On Thursday the faller will arrive with his crew. They’ll tidy up the front part of the property to let in more light, that’s the side the persimmon will go on, and they’ll cut back the maples. My intention is to let the maples naturally coppice. That way, I’ll be able to supply some of my own firewood about every six years or so. I’m hopeful to get some seeds started in the greenhouse soon too. More bull-work required getting the veggie garden area ready — sigh — brambles.

People comment how nice the property is looking now and they’re pleased to see it come back to life. This heartens me greatly.

Harold lounges in a rather ungentlemanly pose in my lap and Roo is plastered to my side. It’s a challenge to type.

My challenge reducing plastic continues. The stuff is on everything. I wish the government would ban it completely, but that seems unlikely. Shopping bags would be a good start.

What projects are you working on this year? Are you working on Zero Waste? What successes and failures have you had? Do you have a Forest or Permaculture garden? I hope you’ll comment!

I am grateful for my many blessings.

With loving and warmth,

Brin

2017, a new year.

2016. A year filled with the deaths of too many of our favourite celebrities, a year fraught with political angst, and the year in which sweet Tia died. I admit in this regard, I was glad to see the back of a hellish year.

2016. A year also filled with joy. My joys were home renovations, the vegetable garden, attending the 2nd Writer Unboxed UnCon in Salem, MA, and the addition of Rupert (Roo) to my family. (Check out his Bio pic page.)

I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, it’s more I think of how I want to continue to simplify my life, and how I envision that.

So, for 2017, I will continue to:

  • Focus on zero waste and eliminate plastic products from my home. A dastardly thing to do. The stuff is everywhere.
  • Turn my small property into a functioning permaculture property. To do this, I need to work on my five-year plan. I also need to keep the brambles at bay! (If I get my veggie garden in again this year, I’ll be happy!)
  • Revel in the paradise in which I find myself. Take long walks with Roo. Snuggle with Harold.
  • Build my reflexology business. Delight in teaching reflexology.
  • Complete the latest draft of my novel and get it to beta-readers.

That’s more than enough to keep me out of trouble!

What hopes and dreams do you have for 2017?

Warmly,

Brin

Extraordinary. Five potentially disastrous days.

An extraordinary week.

First, my friend fell off her two storey roof and walked out of hospital four days later. One word is fitting: miraculous.

She broke her chin and a rib, and cracked another rib. One of her nurses commented to me, “In seventeen years working on this ward, this is a first. The patient either broke limbs, became paralyzed, or suffered head trauma of some sort.”

With the exception of glorious bruising dotted about her body, a jaw which is wired shut for five more weeks, and sore ribs, my friend is already up and about. The irony of avoiding a difficult conversation with someone isn’t lost on her. A potentially catastrophic accident offers a profound life lesson – what matters most to you? I certainly took stock of my priorities.

Second, a barge carrying a crane snagged the overhead power, fibre-optic, and phone lines, leaving two small island communities without power for forty-eight hours and no land-line or internet capabilities for five days. In short order it became apparent of individuals who are prepared for such events, and those who aren’t — including first responders. Without land-lines and/or a cell signal, 911 was inoperative. Our emergency preparedness as a community has some grist for the mill.

All our quirky uniqueness leapt foreground, and, I admit, continues to fascinate the heck out of me.

Many people rolled with the inconvenience, others whined. A handful of folks, armed with their staggering presumptions, impatience, and gargantuan sense of entitlement showed me an ugly underbelly I knew existed, but here-to-fore I’d not experienced. At least not to this extent.

Most, were unprepared. I’m prepared for a week – at most, and need to work on filling the pantry with more non-perishables.

Local shops accepted cash or a cheque. Do you use cheques? Do young people write cheques or rely on ATM’s? Do you have a supply of water, food, medications at hand?

This past week taught me life can change in a nano-second. I am grateful for everyone and everything in my life.

Warmly,

Brin

 

Three unfortunates & flooring, oh, flooring.

I seem to have an unfortunate theme running.

Unfortunately, I changed the blog name from Harold, Tia & Me, to Harold & Me. A wrenching decision, yet, it’s time. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I explain in my last post.

Unfortunately, the dog I hoped to adopt didn’t get along with Harold. Always ready to put his best paw forward, Harold gave the new arrival his best shot and tried to win her over. Phoebe, a small sharpei, and rescue from a kill shelter, was delightfully sweet and loving — toward me. Regarding Harold, however, I’m pretty sure she viewed him as a prey item, and targeted him. Phoebe sprawled on the floor where she could watch him. The deciding factor occurred when she didn’t listen to Harold’s hissing and spitting and flattened him. Fortunately, he is okay and there was a back-up foster to adopt plan in place. That being said, I am now the adoptees back-up! Phoebe came and spent one night here, and I’m okay with that as Harold doesn’t mind being sequestered for a short period of time.

And, unfortunately the flooring won’t begin until the middle of October. I am still gobsmacked at the rigamarole to finish these floors. Between getting the percentage of moisture down in the sub-floor, to heating/venting/dehumidifying the crawlspace, the past month has been an exercise in patience. Basically, I’m camping in my house.

If I hadn’t learned to inject humour into my life all those years ago after my motorcycle accident, I might not be coping this well now! Back-up plans are a good idea!

As Monty Python says:

I imagine my next post will be chock-a-block with fortunates!

How do you handle the unexpected?

Warmly,

Brin

Simplifying moving, reno’s, pets, zero waste, and dreams.

Packing
Storage
B&B living
Un-storage
Un-packing
Reno’s begin, and go on, and on, and on, ad nauseam.

That sums up the past nine months!

What a move it was. Tia hated the move. Well, she hated all change. This move however, tipped her over the edge as all my belongings went into storage while I searched for a house to buy. Once found, I had a two-week period where I was homeless. Fortunately, a friend owns a B&B. Bless her! She took in Harold, Tia, and me. Luckily, Tia loved Liz. Hint: Consider a stay at a B&B if you’re moving – even for one night. It’s a treat and a great break from the mayhem!

All my worldly possessions needed to go into a ten by twelve storage locker. That was a blessing in disguise. Hint: If you are planning a move, consider this a brilliant opportunity to un-clutter and whittle away at the things you don’t use, need, or love while you pack.

Upon arrival at the new house, I removed the carpets and other flooring. Right down to the sub-floor. I lived with the sub-floor until about three weeks ago. The two bedrooms and office were painted, wall-paper came down in the bathroom, and a timely phone call from a friend elicited new-to-me kitchen cabinets to replace the old, dated pink ones. Yes, pink. Bubble-gum pink to be precise! If you’re interested, feel free to take a peek at the album on the reno’s. You can find it HERE. Unfortunately, the video of the house pre-reno’s can’t be uploaded; seem to have lost slide-show ability as well. I’m trying to sort this out.

Over these past months, I finished painting the inside of the house, took out drippy laundry tubs and bathroom vanities, and most recently, a friend and I put down birch flooring everywhere except the kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom.

Today, I’m sitting on a Thai cushion on the living-room floor. My belongings are either on the porch or in my office. I wait for the pro – Kevin, to come to sand and finish the floors. Admission: Putting the flooring down myself was supposed to be the cost-effective route. It’s turned out to be the reverse. There was no way I could sand and finish the floors by myself. Hint: If you intend doing reno’s yourself, check  all the steps and facts first. It can possibly save you money to have a pro do the job instead.

That being said, at the end of the day, the floors will be stunning! (Wait for the pics!)

And of course, some things went sideways.

Zero waste goals progress but still prove to be a struggle. It’s easy to buy the packaged goods from the cooler section of the store rather than take a container. Many stores don’t want me to take my own container. They cite health and safety rules and regulations. That’s been a learning. I discovered I annoy my friends because I don’t buy paper towel and cling wrap. I use glass containers with lids or beeswax covered wrappings. They’ll get over it!

Minimalism is alive and well. Since everything is outside vs inside at the moment, I will evaluate each item before it comes back into the house. Do I use this? Do I love this? Do I need this? I imagine a lighter and emptier house.

Moving to a larger piece of property, well, larger to me – it’s .60 acre, gives me an opportunity to resurrect my gardening skills and permaculture dreams. As soon as the ground was workable in the spring, I got at the massive task of pick-axing out bramble roots (blackberry roots if you weren’t sure), then turning the soil with the garden fork to get more of them before a final pass with the rototiller.

It’s been a worthwhile adventure! The veggie garden gets hot. Some things, like squash, corn, peppers, cabbage, brussels sprouts are doing beautifully. Others, like spinach and lettuce, bolted almost immediately. This season is a learning season.

Writing is haphazard at best. I start to work on the novel, get side-tracked by a reno project and consequently lose any momentum I gained. I’m glad I finished the last draft before I moved. I am working on it, albeit slower. Presently going through the character arcs. A task which is going well as I focus on one bit of the novel at a time.

Pets tug at my heart-strings. Tia died at the end of May. She went down-hill quickly; small consolation. Harold and I miss her tremendously. Harold latched onto my friend’s dog, Cash, while they were helping with the flooring. He (Harold) has told me in no uncertain terms that he needs a dog. There is a rescue sharpei, who, if she likes cats, might join us soon.

Exercise/Work/Play is a constant juggling act. I don’t like walking without Tia, so hope this new possibility works out. My heart aches; missing Tia and lack of exercise. Reflexology and teaching foot reflexology go well. Play? I have found time to get to a movie or two, have dinner with friends. I’m not that anti-social or wrapped up in reno’s!

So, there you have it. Nine months in a nutshell.

I hope all’s well in your world.

With loving and warmth,

Brin

Question: What moving, zero waste, minimalist tips do you have? What’s working best for you?

The excitement builds.

Tomorrow morning. On the dot of 9:30 a.m. I will pick up the keys to my house from the realtor’s office. My excitement burbles inside me and escapes as a smile and childish giggle. I look forward to posting before and after pictures. Maybe a short video?

Today, the skies are clear. Nary a puff of wind. But the forecast for the next few days is not so sunny. My first task is to clean the gutters — I’ve been fretting about them. They are full of leaves and we’ve had torrential rains. Then, I’ll pull up the old carpet in the living room, bedrooms and small office. I’ve rented a long-handled scraper thingy in the event the carpet is a stickler and refuses to budge. I shall prevail!

I’ll take Tia with me. My imaginings of seeing her explore the yard, nose to the ground, snuffling and sniffing, delight me.

A new house and garden space filled with potential. My fingers itch to pick up the paint brush. I’ve picked my colour palette.

Let the mayhem begin. Whoop!

Warmly,

Brin

There’s a move in the air.

In November we’re moving. Harold, Tia, and me, that is. At the moment it’s controlled mayhem around here. Tia doesn’t like it at all. She makes a nest in the middle of my bed and hunkers down while I pack boxes.

We’re moving onto .60 acre. Fenced. Tia’s going to love it. The house is 1100 sq. ft. Harold’s going to love it. I’m going to love it.

There’s a lot of work to be done once I get possession. Ripping out the old carpets and painting, for starters. Then, sit back and take stock.

I’ll post before and after pics!

With excitement,

Brin

September

March. It seems incomprehensible to me that six months have passed since my last post. Life rockets along at break-neck speed; a cacophony of events which tumble me in and out of overwhelm. Clients, writing, twice daily dog-walking, family, teaching prep and teaching. A rich and satisfying life.

I endeavor to be mindful of my zero waste project. I purchase glass containers when they’re on sale and have resisted buying cling film and tin foil. We become so accustomed to reach for certain products. It’s been a huge learning for me. I have a massive hate for plastic. For a start, I wish to see the elimination of plastic shopping bags. The wretched stuff is everywhere.

Tia and Harold lie snoozing by my feet. They bring me immense joy. They ground me. Unconditional love helps me through those challenging days.

Tia & HaroldWith loving and warmth,

Brin

Little update

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The zero waste project continues to challenge me. Despite carrying cloth bags and other forms of containers with me when I go shopping, products are inevitably packaged in something wasteful.

I have reduced plastic containers in my kitchen and home by replacing them with glass containers or mesh bags. When baking and cooking, I use parchment paper to line my pans.

I find toothpaste and body wash the easiest healthcare products to replicate. I’ve adapted to them easily. I admit however, that after two months of using baking soda in a water solution as hair wash, and apple cider vinegar in solution with water as a hair rinse, the results were such that I caved in and reverted to shampoo. That was no easy decision.

We grow up used to the feel, smell, and suds of shampoo. Though my hair and scalp finally found its natural balance of oils, it was a long haul. I could not get used to the feel of my hair. Put simply, I didn’t like the feel of my hair, nor the way it looked. And, I imagine, I’ll try again using something else. In the meantime, I have found a supplier who will refill my shampoo container.

It’s an interesting journey. One I won’t give up on. I continue to learn and adapt. In time this will be a comfortable and familiar way of life.

Our society isn’t set up for zero waste. I wish it was. I will continue to do my part by asking in shops if they will refill my bottles and let me use my containers.

The word of the month seems to be: Adapt. 😀