Friday, November 29, 2013

buy nothing black friday.

i'm so glad i don't have to work today. i had originally booked it off for an appointment, it was cancelled.. i have a friday completely off and all to myself. black friday to be specific.. just in case you don't know what that is, it's an american super sale day that takes place the day after their thanksgiving. the irony being 'on thursday everyone gives thanks for all that they have, and on friday they trample one another to get a cheap television'.

well, said sale day has crept up over the border into canada the last few years. and i say nuts to that.. i think i found a new tradition. book black friday off so that i can go through all of the things i have, and share with those who have not. that and find things i maybe forgot i even had so that i really don't have to go buy anything.

so far i've found a couple of old jackets i can bring to community care, a bunch of markers and pens and various stationery items, a bunch of stuff i no longer needed to recycle or burn, and i freed up two large totes worth of space in my walk-in closet/shed/workout room. i also found something i really needed and forgot i even had, two pairs of super warm rayon leggings tucked away with random other camping gear. total score! i was just telling matty how i wished i had some warm leggings, and voila! my tush is cozy warm.

to keep with today's theme of doing inventory of all that we have, we will create a dinner feast from leftovers in the fridge and freezer, and have a movie night at home. and home is a wonderful place to be on a day like today, as a fresh blanket of snow has fallen. it's our first winter in the new place, and there's been talk of building a snowman or possibly a fort! ahhhh TGIF.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

like one of those...

working in a customer service environment, i tend to meet a lot of interesting people. some of them love to tell their story. so today i'm doing my inventory thing in the razor aisle, and this woman comes up to me to ask me where to find something [naturally]. after i tell her where to go, she picks up a shaver and starts to tell me a story about her young son.

she explains how she's trying to get him to take better care of his personal hygiene, and so chooses to purchase him the most trendy smells and gels and products to use. but the one thing he doesn't like to do is shave his face. she tells me that she insisted he scrapes that scraggly little beard off of his face, and leans in to say to me jokingly, "wouldn't want him looking like one of those homeless bums on the street". heh.

nope, wouldn't want that i said.

i wasn't sure how to feel at first, but i'm guessing my tone suggested i may have been a little annoyed by her comment. the first response that came to my mind was 'yea, cause i know when i was homeless, i preferred the bums that shaved over the ones that didn't'.. but i held my tongue. i don't know, maybe i wasn't offended. i think i was just shocked a little. it's almost as if to say something like "i tell my son to wear extra sunscreen because i wouldn't want him looking like one of those black guys."

i mean, i know she didn't mean any harm by it, and i didn't even take personal offense to it, it just seems like one of those things you just don't say. maybe it's not even the words she said that stunned me, but the way she said them. the look on her face.. for a split second her lip curled and her nose scrunched and her eyes squinted and she actually looked disgusted at the idea of a homeless bum on the street.

yeah, that's it. that's what it is that bothers me. the idea that this person may have been disgusted at the thought of a homeless person. maybe that's because my thoughts towards a homeless person are totally opposite of what i assume hers are. she's simply ignorant to the whole situation, and i'm not. it's one of those moments where you wish you had all day to open someones mind on something that you're very passionate about, but you just can't because, well.. that just won't fly on the clock.


winter is when i remember best to express my gratitudes.. i'm reminded every time i shudder in the cold, feel the winter wind whip my face or get soaked in freezing rain how amazing it is that i have a house to go home to. i feel so grateful thinking about that bed and all those blankets and clean clothes to change into after a hot shower.. and fresh food waiting to be prepared. i love our little home. being housed wasn't always my preferred lifestyle, i've changed. i still enjoy some quality time on the outside whenever i can get it, but i'm glad i have what i have. and i share whenever i get the chance.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

for the love of winter

i have to admit it, i do love winter. even though my body aches, and the chill is sometimes hard to escape, i think i'd really miss winter if i didn't have it. all of the seasons have their own magic, and though winter is likely the most complained about season we experience in these parts, i think it's battling autumn for my top spot on the fave list.

just recently i realized that [my friends and] i tend to spend more time on outings and adventures in the colder months than we do all of spring summer and fall. there's too much keeping us busy in the warm, like traveling, working outside in the yard or the garden, and avoiding the midday heat. in winter we tend to make better effort to avoid cabin fever and going stir crazy, so we see more of each other, and find more creative things to do.

the most exciting time of year for me has always been the arrival of sweater weather. i love putting on a favourite cozy hoody and going for a walk. i love the smell of all the wood burning stoves in the neighbourhood, sending their delicious scent up into the cool crisp november air. any excuse for a nice hot drink of tea or warm spiced apple cider.. and being inspired to bake something delicious, a reason to make use of the oven as an extra heat source.

it brings us together, under a warm fuzzy blanket.. gathers friends around a fire, freezes the pond so we can skate. the first real snow fall brings a guaranteed smile. the first storm of the season plays on our vulnerability in the great white north.. we hold our loved ones just a little tighter, help strangers get unstuck from snowdrifts, reach out to our community when the lights go out.

as it turns out, despite the cold, i've spent more time on the trails in winter months than in the heat. i've always loved the extra element winter weather brings to the challenge of surviving a night outside. i love how crisp and clear everything appears through the camera lens when it's twenty below zero and the air is still. i love to enjoy every crystallized drop of water that lands on my sleeve, never seeing the same shape twice.
now if only it would snow...

winter, i had you all wrong.. i'm ready, bring it on.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ridgerest Classic

well it's been a long time since i've written about a product i enjoy, and i promised my readers on the homeless how-to many moons ago that i'd write more about my favourite gear... so here it is.

i've been through a few packs, many pairs of footwear, tried a couple different shelters and stoves, but the one original piece of gear that i still have and use since the beginning of my backpacking years is my Therm-a-Rest Ridgerest sleep mat. i made the purchase in early 2008, and took it for a test drive on a somewhat mild night in mid-winter. the main purpose of such a product is to keep your body warmth from being stolen by the cold ground, and it does this superbly.

when i bought the mat, it came in three different sizes. i believe i bought the medium one [3/4 length] as the small was a little too short, and the large was more mat than i needed. at first the roll was rather bulky, but after a few weeks of nightly use, i was able to roll it more tightly to fit better on my pack. i'm glad i didn't get the full-sized one as this length is plenty enough when i would usually have a sweater folded under my head as a pillow anyways, i found i didn't need to have the mat under my whole body.

i chose this mat for it's durability, and the fact that it is super light weight. i was hesitant to pick up a self inflating mat, or anything that wasn't closed cell foam, for the fact that i didn't want to have to deal with repairing or replacing the thing i'd be sleeping on for months on end, especially not knowing how far from civilization i'd end up. also, it's super easy to clean because it has no outer material to worry about, all you need is a damp rag and a few minutes of drying time and it's good to go.

now, many years later, my original Ridgerest still serves me well. though it looks rather smushed and rolls down to about half of the space it once took up, it's main functions are still covered. it insulates my body from the cold ground, and provides a bit of comfort beneath my sleeping bag. it has been used on the trail, in the yard, surfing various living room floors, sheds and other structures, even on the beach. i refuse to replace it until it's completely worn out, and i can't see that happening any time in the near future.

a warm wind

i wonder if it's the weather, why i've been so sore..
it's been cold and damp a couple weeks and suddenly when it seemed winter was ready
the warm.

some of the herbs in the garden made a comeback
new leaves, regrowth..
one last reach for the warmth of the sun before the snow comes.

a chance to stretch my legs
to breathe the sun warming the cedars in the distance
last break from the hibernation mindset.

the clouds on the horizon couldn't interrupt.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


i was pacing back and forth out front of the laundromat today, the wind had picked up and the billowing dark clouds carried in sure signs of winter's approach. i could feel myself shiver and clench my teeth a little.. damn, i've gotten soft i thought. it's been a good few years since i was 'homeless' or spent any good amount of time outside on purpose. i felt weak in that moment thinking, i'm not sure i'd be able to handle it again.

but then again.. back in those days the thought of being a domesticated creature racked me. i could have never seen myself pursuing a 'career' of any sort, or having the desire to settle, be contained by four walls, own anything or marry.. my how i've changed.

or have i?

every once in a while i'm overtaken by anxiety.. i think to myself, what in the hell have i gotten myself into? i rent a place, i work full time, i have this stuff and did those things that i now have to pay for.. i'm locked in. stuck.. imprisoned by the very lifestyle i swore against long ago..

or am i?

nah. i'm not stuck. if i really wanted out bad enough, i'd have left already. it's not all that bad. in this moment i am content sitting at my laptop with some candles going and a bowl of pomegranate seeds to snack on. i have bills to pay and a job to wake up early for tomorrow and a hubby that lights up my world with joy.

the experiences in my past have definitely changed the way i live out my life as a housed person, maybe for the better. i'm not the biggest 'minimalist' i've ever met, but i habitually live with fewer things than most people in my general societal filing. can't afford much more than what i've got so i suppose it's a good thing that i'm happy to have a litte as opposed to a lot.

but back to the softness..

sometimes my mind wanders back and wonders what would happen if i found myself suddenly in that situation again, if i would have the energy and resourcefulness i'd need to be a happy streetkid. firstly, i'm not a kid anymore, and a lot of my old resources no longer exist. especially my favourite hiding spots.. city improvements and rural development have killed them off almost completely. i'd have to go back to wandering with my rucksack, and hit the highway for another place to be.

but that's no longer me. maybe a little part that shines through every once in a while, i keep it fed with weekend excursions and vacations as often as i can to a faraway land. maybe it's not that i've gotten soft but other parts of me are hardened.. the callouses that once covered my feet from beating pavement have migrated to my hands from turning earth. i'd rather build a home than find one, and plant my food than dive a dumpster for it or get in line.

today, that is.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

living the dream..

for real.. woah. this place blew me away each day with another breathtaking scene or three.. no camera skills necessary to get a postcard perfect shot. i have come to the realization that attempting to write about things chronologically is likely why i stop writing, eff it. one of those days, we went on a catamaran for a tour of the beaches [and to swim with sharks and stingrays of course] but anyway, i couldn't get enough of the view from the top of that boat. i felt like i was on top of the world..

..and the beaches were gorgeous, white sands and blue skies.. amazing. i'm still having a hard time adjusting back to the fact that one needs many layers before exiting the house in the morning, the memory of the island heat keeps me warm [momentarily]. i definitely hope to spend more days in places like these.

seeing white herons [egrets] everywhere was a plus, such beautiful birds. my first experience with one was one of the first days on the island, i could see it hiding in the wetland reserve that's right in the middle of the resort. it was maybe ten feet away from me, barely visible, watching me walk the path to the beach. beautiful birds, it seemed as though there was always one around. definitely added to the dreamy feel of the scenery. what a world.

Friday, November 1, 2013

fly away once more..

i never thought i'd travel to a place like this, but i also never thought i'd travel to the southern states or willingly get on an airplane, and all of the above have happened this year. even as the plane approached the island and we could see the coastline and the jungle and the mountains it was still hard to believe. like traveling to another world.. even the clouds looked different, beautiful.. i couldn't get enough of the view from the little window.

when you arrive at the airport, you step out of the plane right into the open air and it hits you in the face.. the humidity is intense and the heat was almost overwhelming, until i was suddenly distracted by the fact that the airport looks like nothing more than a village of palm leaf huts and a strip of asphalt in the middle of the jungle. there isn't much for walls, and you can smoke tobacco and crack open a cold beer just about anywhere.

the heat didn't much matter after a little while. everyone quickly accepted that a constant layer of sweat comes with the territory. the first thing i am taken by is the vegetation.. i was that weirdo walking around checking out all the plants, touching the leaves, sniffing the flowers.. it took a couple days to get used to the fact that the plants we buy for indoors and greenhouses are their garden plants and shrubs here on the island.

it was so refreshing to walk around and check out all the gardens. coconuts, bananas, passionfruit.. so many different amazing things growing right on the resort! and the wildlife was interesting too. instead of squirrels and flies there are big fuzzy spiders and lizards everywhere. the maintenance staff squishes them like bugs! we were much happier to befriend them than to swat them with a sandal. they're so cute!

i have hundreds and hundreds of photos to sort through, everything was so vibrant and beautiful it was hard not to snap it all up. my mind is still buzzing with how amazing the journey was and we've already been home for a week, every time i sit down to sort through my files and pick a few more to upload, i feel as though i'm back there closer to the sun.

i'm far too exhausted now to write anymore, i have neglected my blogger account since a week before the trip. i suppose i just wanted to stop in and get the ball rolling, 2013 was such an incredible year, i should have tons to write about throughout the winter to keep me warm.