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