Finally, I begin to slow down!

It’s been months! Unable to do a thing last year, I made up for it, and I had fun!

I added raised beds, got shrubs planted, made a new front flower-bed, got tile floor in the kitchen, and the herb garden in.

I was curious to see if the water would remain in the holes in the veggie garden, but it didn’t. The sandbags were a massive flop. Sigh. Live and learn. I ended up taking them all apart. I’m delighted to report my electrical consumption is down 21% from January 1st – yay!

Here’s a slideshow.

To be continued …

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Journey to a more self-sufficient & sustainable lifestyle: Hurdles.

A memorable year.

In February I had radio frequency ablation on the left side of my neck then taught a foot reflexology class less than a week later. To say that was a bizarre experience puts it mildly. My brain tried to rewire signals no longer going to portions of my neck. The cervical area of ablation; four sites, was completely numb. Teaching, though delightful, was simultaneously emotionally and physically draining. With the success of the radio frequency ablation on the left side of my neck, in April, the right side of my neck was done. Again, odd, disconnected sensations as my brain and body attempted to rewire themselves. And, as mentioned in a previous post, in June I broke my left wrist. I couldn’t support myself with my reflexology practice, had to learn to do everything using one hand, but despite this, managed to get a few things done in the garden. I plunked spaghetti squash in one of the piles of dirt and they did surprisingly well.

I’m grateful to the support of friends who built a few raised beds or lay sheets of lumber wrappings on the ground and covered them with wood-chips. The latter in an effort to choke out the blackberries in that area. The raised beds fed me throughout the summer and early fall months and the wood-chips seem to be doing the trick.

I think one of the biggest learnings for me was surrender. I was given an opportunity to learn about myself. To reaffirm I can simplify my life and survive. Though much is uncomfortable, there are always options and solutions.

For 2018, my goal is to continue implementing my five-year plan: Create permaculture and self-sufficient systems on the property whenever possible. Put in more raised beds. Plant the shrubs I was unable to plant last spring. Get the herb garden in. Finish the sandbagging around the holes and channel and plant up the resultant berm. Endeavor to become more self-sufficient, and, to become closer to being off the grid. I am pleased to see my electrical consumption measurably going down. I am hopeful to put in a humanure toilet. This will require purchasing heavy-duty five gallon buckets and lids, totes in which to store an adequate supply of sawdust, and somewhere to put bales of straw. The humanure will go in a specialist compost bin. I’m imagining raised eyebrows, and puzzled comments from visitors. I think they already consider some (many?) of my ideas odd. This might tip them over the edge. Oh, well. In this time of peculiar weather systems and global warming (I do believe it’s happening), I don’t think we can become complacent with water usage. A composting toilet, in my opinion, makes sense.

Always enjoying an experiment, I’m curious to see how long the water remains in the two holes dug in the veggie garden area. A rough estimate of 1200 gallons per hole then perhaps an equal volume of water in the channel connecting them. I’m hopeful some will remain. If not, then I’ll save for liners of some sort. In an ideal world, I’d love to channel the runoff from the house into them. I’ll find out in August, I suppose!

I’ve attached a short slideshow of photos of things I was able to accomplish last year. One-handed creativity.

What successes and failures did you have in your gardens this year? What do you hope to accomplish in 2018? And, how are you becoming more self-sufficient?

Wishing everyone a successful and loving 2018,

Brin

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Time. All in good time.

This sounds like a cliché, but if I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that everything happens for a reason. I know many people disagree with me, and that’s their prerogative, but in my case, I know when things happen, it’s because there’s a learning in it for me.

Case in point, on June 1, I slipped in the garden, hit my left wrist on a cement block, and broke both wrist bones. Three weeks in, it was decided that I needed surgery so my time-frame was effectively set back. I saw the surgeon last Wednesday for a new x-ray and consultation and was pleased to learn things are progressing well. I can increase my wrist and finger exercises and wear the wrist brace less often. That being said, it’s unclear when I’ll be working again. I’m hopeful early September I can slowly start seeing clients again.

The lesson for me?

Surrender. To have no preconceived notion of anything, or any outcome. To be still.

To be helpless. To do everything with one hand. To learn to ask for help. To learn some things – most things, can wait, or ultimately don’t matter.

It’s easy. Not.

We’re brought up thinking we have to be busy, doing things, accomplishing things – every waking moment. We must be constantly striving to reach our goals and ambitions. We must always be productive. Proving our worthiness.

To simply sit and be still, observing the world around me has been, at the end of the day, a gift. That most of what I thought matters, actually doesn’t. The joy in birdsong, Roo snoring, Harold purring.

I’ve turning an energetic corner. I feel the shift move from healing the bones in my wrist to experiencing an encouraging urge to begin writing again. This time an opportunity to complete the next draft in my novel.

British Columbia is suffering some of the worst forest fires in 60 years. There is a creepy haze to the sky and even under ideal circumstances, outdoor activities for everyone are curtailed. The air quality is awful.

This might sound like a gloomy post, but it isn’t. Despite the broken wrist, it’s been a positive learning for me. The torrential rain in early spring has created a glut of blackberries, and I have been one handedly picking like mad. I’ve also enjoyed taking magical walks with Roo.

I’m curious. How do you view the unexpected? Do you find it easy to surrender?

With loving and warmth,

Brin

 

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April. Hello, Spring?

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Over the past few weeks I’ve nibbled away at the bramble pile. Yes, that bramble pile. It’s half gone. It’s like my own personal Everest I scale from time to time. I’m both delighted and overwhelmed to discover soil and worms at the top of the pile. It’s so thoroughly packed down I’m hoping when the fallers fall the maples, the pile will fall apart. Somehow I think that’s wishful thinking! There’s going to be great dirt in the middle of it though! There’s a pic in the slideshow below, of a friend standing beside the pile. For scale, she’s 5’5″.

Things are slowly greening out. Spring is late. We had a teaser of sun this morning, quickly to fade back to grey and cold. I’ve yet to start seeds in the greenhouse. The veggie garden area will be smaller this year. I’ve arranged for a young man with a backhoe to come in and dig two jolly great holes and a trench joining them — in early July. He’ll need maneuvering room, hence the smaller garden. I’ll plant squash and things closer to the house. I’m looking forward to this!

Gardening is magnificently expressive. Trying new things, new places to grow things, successes and failures, I love the adventure of it!

Roo’s growing like a weed. Just over fifty pounds at 7 months. He loves the water which is unusual for Sharpei. Great fun watching him! It’s his last Best Manners class this evening. He’s a clever boy and loves learning.

I’ll spare you a rant about plastic.

Harold is sleeping. He’s looking forward to long snoozes on the futon on the porch when the weather warms up. We’re all looking forward to that!

Do you have an Everest of a gardening project? Are you still in the depths of winter?

Here’s wishing you all well!

Warmly,

Brin

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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