Thursday, December 9, 2010

Art Day!

finally after three weeks, i got to hit up an art day last night. sometime back in autumn, my friend Dan, myself and a wee posse of artists from the Niagara region decided to start gathering every wednesday afternoon for Art Day. the idea behind art day is to have a specific time to gather for no other reason than to get creative and enjoy the arts.

our first art day was a little slow, we gathered and discussed various projects that we would like to work on. anything goes, some draw, some write, read, paint, sculpt, sew, create music, design gardens.. whatever each person does to get their creative juices flowing.

the best part about having an Art Day is the inspiration from others. not only having others input and constructive critique, but also the ideas that flow around the room inspire others to go outside of their comfort zones as far as creativity is concerned, and try something new.

the last day may have been my favourite one so far. a ball of hemp twine, a bag of wooden beads and a few nice ceramic ones from the dollar store had three people crafting various pieces of hemp jewelery. it's amazing the things one can learn on youtube!

there's not any pressure to have a project on the go to attend an art day. sometimes it's just nice to sit and converse with others while there's some creation happening. sometimes only music people show up, and it turns into an all out jam session, or even recording session.

don't have an art day to go to? why not start one! pick a day or an evening when you and a few friends are free to gather, and a place with enough seating and surfaces for everyone. it could be as few as 3 or four people, or as many as you can fit! get together and discuss your ideas and goals, bring a sketchpad to jot things down, and get started. it's a nice way to relax with friends and melt away the worries of the world over a nice warm cup of tea and some herbs.

Monday, November 29, 2010

MSR Water Filter

i bought this MSR filter back in 2008, i've taken it on 4 multiple month long journeys and many day hikes and treks in between, and it still does it's job well. it's simple, as long as you follow the instructions correctly.

the filter itself is ceramic, it comes with a scouring pad to clean it, and a measuring device so that you can tell when the filter needs to be changed. be sure to let the filter dry out between uses by leaving the lid off and hanging it in it's mesh bag for a while before you pack up. i like to strap it to the outside of one of our packs, careful to make sure it isn't swinging.

the pump is hard plastic, with a rubber hose that hangs down into the water. the end is capped with a large particle filter piece to keep sand and grit out. a 1liter water bottle screws on to the bottom of the filter, but it's not a necessity to make the thing work.

it's hard work pumpin' that water, but considering how fast you can sip some pure clean H2O, i'll take it. if you have a lot of water to pump, switch off with a partner, makes the job go a lot quicker. if you have a steady pace you can pump a liter in 4-5 minutes, quicker than drip filters. it's built pretty tough, and easy to maintain.. the entire thing comes apart to be cleaned or replace parts.

to buy the pump with a filter cartridge is $70-90, and replacement filters are $30-50. supposedly one can pump 1000 liters through a filter before you need a new one, it if is properly maintained. i have yet to need a replacement filter!

i love having a pump that allows me to drink the water fresh and cool.. one of the best experiences with this filter was pumping some near freezing glacial stream water on a hot sunny rocky mountain hike. or bringing the filter into a cave in Tobermory just to say that we drank fresh cave water!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Aum Sweet Home

after months of calling a tent, random backyards and couches my home, i'm starting to get used to having a place of my own. since high school i've spent short and long periods of my life 'houseless', so getting settled has taken some time.

i can't believe it's been a month already, October has flown by. i'm finally starting to get myself organized.. i have the time and space now to be productive and work on many ongoing projects. having internet access in my home is all too convenient, i've finally had the chance to work on my blogs, like my pride creation, the Homeless How-to.

i'm renting the master bedroom upstairs in a friend's townhouse. the room has plenty of space to live comfortably, and a bed! it's been a couple years since i last slept in an actual bed, it's kinda nice. it's also nice to have all of my belongings out of storage and all in one place. some of the clothes i have i hadn't seen in years.

the simple things are a luxury. having laundry facilities in my basement, having access to a shower any time i wish, and a refrigerator to keep my fresh food in! it's nice to have a kitchen again.. not that i didn't enjoy my lovely little camp stove and a food sac.

i finally started my houseplant collection this weekend with a money tree, and a 'lucky bamboo'. with winter coming and drafty windows, i had to seal them up.. thus the need for some oxygen producers in my living space.

one of the biggest reasons i have decided to settle is the need for a quiet place to study. permaculture piqued my interests a couple years ago, but since my last journey to the east coast, i have been more excited than ever to get started on a permaculture garden patch. my text books arrived in the mail last week, i will be learning about forest ecology and mimicry to eventually establish my very own food forest.

i'm looking forward to the winter, especially enjoying having a nice warm space to hibernate. there is still much work to be done setting things up and sorting stuff out, which i don't really see as a chore anymore. it's fun! this is the adventure now...

aum sweet home <3

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


back in oh-eight, i may have made the best 350 dollar investment of my life. knowing that shawn and i would be embarking on a multi-season backpacking adventure, we intended to be well geared not knowing exactly what to expect.

when i saw the Eureka! Susten XPII there was no doubt it was exactly what we needed. the interior panels are mostly mesh, and the fly has full coverage. with this combination any level of ventilation or waterproofing can be achieved with a few minor adjustments. there's also pop up vents built into the fly that can be left open to prevent condensation, or closed right down flat to trap the warmth. the dual wall design helps greatly to keep condensation from collecting inside the tent. i have only been 'rained on' once, by fault of my own when i forgot to open the fly vents. the inner tent windows unzip from the top, which also gives another space for airflow.

the day we bought the tent we insisted on taking it for a test run. it was a strangely warm day for january, and figured we could get away with a 3 season tent. we were not aware when we left town that a massive storm was on it's way in, so the test run was more intensive than we could have ever imagined.

wind gusts that night reached 90-110 kilometers per hour. entire trees many meters high were blowing over left and right, a tree big enough i couldn't get my arms around ended up landing less than 10 meters from our tent. the wind was so powerful it sounded like we were camping under a speeding train. it was frightening to say the least, but the tent held out. the tent is designed in such a way that when fastened down tightly to the ground you can become very aerodynamic in your little bubble dome, or raise the fly for better air movement.

we were pretty confident with our choice in tent after that night. no rainstorm or tropical force winds have been any match for it yet. we once spent 37 and a half hours rained in to our tent in Fernie BC. the rain would slow occasionally so that we could get out and stretch our legs, and follow by a heavy downpour. the fly kept us and all our gear dry the whole time.

my favourite feature about this tent is the vestibule. well, the two vestibules, there's a front and back door to the tent. perfect for two who intend to call it home for a while. the back vestibule fits boots and a pack no problem, and the front fits the rest of the gear, and our two butts. it's like having a covered front porch to sit in and watch the rain. when the front door is cranked open, you can even safely run the camp stove right in front. i only do this in poor weather, otherwise i like to set up the stove well away from the tent.

the only features about this tent that i didn't like have since been changed. i wasn't too keen on trying to remove the fly pole from the fabric sleeve when the tent is wet, definitely time consuming. the new design has simple clips on the exterior of the fly to snap onto the pole. much easier! also the sky blue colour has been changed to a nice forest green. i have considered ordering just a new fly for this reason, but i've grown to love the sky blue.

other than those two things i'd never trade it in. the price has also come down considerably since i made the purchase. it is a bit on the heavy side [6-7 pounds fly included] but divided between two it's well worth it. for long term tenting i'd carry the weight for that extra vestibule space any day. truly my home away from home.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Accidental Garden

Back in 2009 at the white house on the corner, the house crew decided to start a garden. we dug up a patch behind the garage and planted two [eventually 3] types of tomatoes, squash, and various herbs such as mint and thyme. it was just a wee patch, to see how well we could grow our own food.

when the squashes were nearing their maturity, an onslaught of slugs moved in on our precious vine. they destroyed everything that was growing, except for the tomatoes and the mint. we enjoyed the bounty of the surviving plants, but discouraged and defeated, we decided not to start a patch in 2o1o.

this year, the garden started itself.

last autumn, all the plants we tore out were tossed in the scrap pile with a bunch of old rotting wood from ongoing renovations. some of the wood had been there for years, and the bottom of the pile had turned into a nice rich soil.

this spring, while seeking some wood for the fire, i came across what appeared to be a tomato plant growing amongst the weeds in the woodpile. i ripped away all the weeds that were entangled around the plant, and put a broken out milk crate around it so it wouldn't get kicked or stepped on. i also discovered that the bucket the mint started in last year had re-grown itself.

a week or so later i went to check on the tomato plant, and it had easily doubled in size. i wish i would have taken a photo when i found it for comparison, but the growth that had seeded itself was impressive, no less.

after the crate and initial weeding, we did nothing but let it grow. no trimming, no watering, no fertilizing, and certainly no digging. the plant exploded across the wood pile. once it had matured beyond flowering, i discovered that this wasn't only one tomato plant, but two. two entirely different strains in fact, one was the cherry tomato, and the other the more elongated grape tomato!

by the end of the season, our tomato patch was 8 feet across at the widest point, and about 5 or 6 feet deep. the mint once lived on the other side of the yard, but during a dryspell it withered. i moved the bucket over so that it was partially shaded by the tomato bush, and within a week it started to re-grow.

from mid summer well into autumn many dozens of little tomatoes were harvested and enjoyed. even those who claimed to have never liked tomatoes were impressed by the fresh flavour bursting from the home grown bounty.

now well into autumn, the tomato bush has been removed, roughly scattered about the patch where we will start our permaculture test site in the spring. watching the systems of nature take over in the backyard this year was the little bit of inspiration we needed to give food forest design a try.


to my world!

it took me a while to get into the whole idea of blogging. now that i'm in, i'm addicted. the first blog i published, The Sage Vagabond [a homeless how-to] is doing very well. i shared the link in a few key forums, and the page sees 50 or so hits a day, from all over the globe. the how-to is laid out like an informational web page and sorted into topics about living outside the box.

my second blog i just started last month. The Sage Wandera is a journal style blog where i am writing about my travels and random wanderings. it's still brand new, i started with the most recent backpacking journey around the East Coast of Canada, and i will continue to go back in time to share the greatest stories from backpacking across the country.

this blog i plan to use as both a list of resources and a journal about anything that has to do with being ME. food, culture, travel, gear, photography, music... you name it, and i'll probably write about it.

thanks for joining me on this virtual joyney thru space and time.

stay blessed!