Thursday, December 7, 2017

December already..

11 months now I've had this lovely little house to call home... and I'm stressing every day trying to rustle up enough dough to keep it going. This time last year we had more work than we did time, and now we've been searching for weeks to pick up new contracts with no luck.

Don't get me wrong, I love having time off from work, it just came a little unexpectedly and we weren't financially ready. I'm so thankful that we invested in a big chest freezer to keep our summer garden goodies in, our produce stash along with a giant bag of rice has kept us going. We Also stocked up on flour and various other baking ingredients, so if we can't scrounge enough money for fuel to get to town, at least we have a somewhat full pantry for a while.


The bit of extra time just happened to coincide with the eagles returning to the valley. And an ankle sprain.. So the past couple weeks I've been slowly rolling up and down my road with my hazards on, a foot on the brake and a lens to my face with the driver's door open. Anywhere else but here you'd def get looks for that, but I live on a dead end road out in the country. And right now, it's eagle country. There's plenty of people rolling around with cameras pulling over at random to get the shot.


Unfortunately, a storm took out our greenhouse a couple weeks ago. This on top of the sprain and being out of work really got me down. We ended up having our first frost the other day, which means the crops that were inside the greenhouse are pretty much toast. I've decided to keep a little green in my life this winter by adopting some houseplants. I even found a perfect mini lemon cypress to stand in as our Christmas tree. It's so cute!


So in summation, lots of ups and downs this season. My ankle is starting to heal, so I'm doing my best to get back on my daily ten thousand steps. I'm hopeful that work will pick back up again soon, and our home will be saved for the winter.


As always, thanks to all my amazing friends, fams and fans that have kept in touch and kept my spirits up. It gets a little lonely out here at times, but man is it lovely. If I don't write again before then, I wish you all a merry ho ho.. and bring on 2018!


Xo 

Monday, October 9, 2017

October Love.

It's my favourite month of my favourite season, and this may be my favourite October yet. Rainbows, sunflowers, pumpkins and sunsets. I'm sitting in my living room, surrounded in Home. Pumpkins piled around my plants by the window [and on the porch, and everywhere], produce boxes filled with garden treasures, sunflower seeds drying in their trays, cedar, sage, lavender and mint.. and sweet views out my windows.

Which totally makes up for the chaos that my work life has become. Contractor life is very unpredictable at times. Some jobs are nice money makers, others are a near complete loss. We never really know when we'll be paid, so having the garden [and preserving it's goods] has really saved us through. I hope I never have to go another season without a garden. I'm getting good at my new trade, but still I dream of one day making a full-time gig of growing food.


So yeah, about them rainbows.. there's been one [or a few] every day this past week. The weather patterns out here this time of year make them a common occurrence. Cool mornings, a little sun in the afternoon and rain in the evening. The sun sneaks below the rainclouds for a final peek before setting, creating these beautiful rainbows and blazing sunsets. It's just incredible, I feel so blessed to be here to witness it all. This is our first Autumn in the valley, and I'd been looking forward to it.

And the sunflowers! This was my first time having a plot to plant them since Ontario [besides an attempt in a bucket on a balcony], and they grew to be giants here. The seeds I've been carrying since I'd planted the first handful [unknowingly] on the day my mother had passed. these were the last of that crop, and now I can save the seeds from these ones and continue on with the strain.


The best seeds from the biggest flowers will be kept for next season. The rest, delicious snacks! The seeds from this mammoth are big enough to cover my thumbnail. I'm hoping by spring we can find a place to plant a bit of a sunflower field. They do well enough on their own, and love arid conditions, so there may be a seed-bombing in our near-ish future.

And these pumpkins.. It's pretty safe to say I'm obsessed. I love growing them, and looking at them, I love their smell and colour and texture, I love pumpkin pie it's my absolute favourite! And soup and roasted pumpkin seeds too. So next year, more pumpkins. Their patch must be updated, as this year's attempt was a last minute one. They need better soil and more space to grow.


In the spring we plan to turn, amend, and hopefully mulch their entire bed. This year we just dug little circles to plant the seeds and let the vines sprawl around through the grass, but as soon as they became too big to trim between, the grass took over. Next time they'll have much more space. And we'll likely have many more varieties. I love our little microfarm.

...

This year out here in the valley changed my life. It made me realize that dreams can and do come true. That some chances, though scary, are worth taking. That a vagabond can find a home. And that perseverance pays off. Once I had finally begun to find my footings out here on the west coast, it was a huge risk to move out to the country. I didn't know if I could keep working the jobs I'd had once I moved, or if I'd find other work if i couldn't. But I moved out anyways.

And I did have to quit both my jobs. And I did find other work, doing something I'd never thought I would get into. So here I am, in my dream place, making it happen. It feels damn good.

The only thing missing is my [friends and] family. I have made new friends out here, but it's this time of year I really miss everyone back home. Even when I spent months wandering with a rucksack on my back wherever I could make it to, I always made a point to make it home for the holidays.

No matter where I've ended up, it's always been in the back of my head that if things don't go well, I can always go home and start again. But I never really pondered what would happen if things did go well. I suppose I wasn't expecting to last this long out here without returning to my homelands for more than just a visit. I guess I never really thought about how it might feel to be so far away from everyone when they're gathered for a legendary turkey dinner, and I'm out here contemplating what I'm going to do with a holiday Monday.

Probably load up the boat and go fishing. My new BC holiday tradition.

...

That garden tho. Seriously. It's hard to worry about anything too much when I'm standing there overlooking my edible landscape masterpiece, admiring a mountain sunset. Knowing that I've found my place, land that I can grow on, and a community I can thrive within. It's hard to miss a place I love but can't stand to live in, when I'm in a place like this.

I'm so thankful for every minute of it.

That said, if you're reading this, Happy Thanksgiver. Please know that even though I can't be close to you, you're always in my thoughts. They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I believe that to be true. Not that I didn't love you all before, but being so far away for so long, I've learned a whole different appreciation for the important people in my life. I'm thankful to have you in my life. My friends and family [same diff amirite?] are my lifeline and I know I wouldn't still be here if i didn't have your love and support. Cheers to you this turkey day, and every day. All the love.


xo

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Dollars and Scents.

I'll be honest, I've been a closet Scentsy fan for years. The year before I'd uprooted my life and moved west, I was gifted a warmer. I loved it so much I gave my mother a warmer, and we would 'go in' on orders and share our bars. My favourite scents pertained to Autumn, and she loved anything and everything that 'smelled like Christmas'.

Given that the sense of smell is so strongly connected to memories, when she first passed away, the last thing I wanted at that moment was something so vivid. I gave my warmer away. As a matter of fact, I gave almost everything away. I bought a Greyhound ticket west without a plan. For almost three years to follow, I had no fixed address. After what seemed like forever house hopping, couch surfing, and most especially camping, I finally found a place to call Home.

My partner and I moved into a tiny farm house in the middle of winter. Given my history, it took me a while to settle in to the idea of having a home. The seasons have since come full circle, and now that Autumn has arrived, I feel the urge to celebrate!

I sat down at my computer to visit my friend's Scentsy page. I browsed around for my favourite scents, wishing that I myself had become a consultant years ago. Witnessing my friend's ascent from consultant to star director, and in such developing a well-paying career that allows for travel and lots of free time, [not to mention all the free trips!] I wish I would have sooner followed in her footsteps. Instead of just ordering some product, I decided to sign up.

I had so many reasons not to before. Worries of whether or not I'd be a good sales person, concern of what my friends might think if I were to sign up for a multi-level marketing outfit, doubts that I would ever make it work.

Needless to say, I'm over it.

Truth is, I enjoy the product. My scent to memory connection has always been impeccable, so much so that the smell of the sun hitting freshly rained upon fallen leaves quite literally moves me to [happy] tears. I love when that happens.


I am so blessed to have moved to such a beautiful place, but it doesn't always smell as nice as it looks. Farmers often fertilize their fields, and the well water in this old farm house has a questionable odour at times. We have a rich, beautiful, yet ever-so-ripe compost heap for our massive garden [which you can thankfully only smell from the zucchini patch], and let's not forget that family of skunks that has taken up residence somewhere close-by. All in all, if I'm not in the middle of baking or having a fire, it smells like, well... farm country!

Thus, I finally caved. Upon doing several web searches, checking local flea markets and directories, I have yet to come across a local consultant. I do my best to always support local farmers, bakers, craftspeople, and tradespeople [as I am a few of those things myself!], and so I thought, perhaps I should be a local Scentsy slinger too. I do enjoy their products, as I'm sure fellow country folks might as well.

Don't worry, I didn't sign up for this thinking it'd be a good 'get rich quick' scheme, but I am hopeful that I might generate a little extra income. Not so that I can quit my apprenticeship and go bohemian, I actually enjoy my new trade. But I'd love not to have to work at it 5, 6 and even sometimes 7 days a week. And not so that I no longer need to grow my own food, I really do love gardening. But I'd love to be able to spend more time doing it without worrying if the bills will get paid.

That said, if it doesn't pan out, at least my rugged little house out in the mountains will always smell amazing. And my old adventure van/workhorse will no longer stink like.. well, all the things. It'll stink pretty too!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this. If you'd like to share in my indulgence, check out my page... or perhaps you'd like to join me on this scented venture? I'm here for you every Scentsy need!

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