At the beginning of the year, I made a list of goals that I hoped we would accomplish throughout 2014. One of those goals was to build a new front door. Mike worked on the door secretly for a few weeks before he surprised me with it one sunny afternoon. As you can see from the picture, it is a slight improvement from our old door (on left).
At the beginning of the year, I made a list of goals that I hoped we would accomplish throughout 2014. One of those goals was to build a bed for Alma. We have been very blessed by what has been passed down from older generations. Mike’s father built him a bed when he was a toddler, and now, many years later Mike has turned it into a bed for our daughter. The bed went through a few kids in between Mike and Alma, and has changed form a few times, as well. Now, it lives above the foot of our bed.
I am in the process of making a quilted duvet cover for Alma’s bed. I’ve done the preliminary bits, but still have a lot of work to do. I plan on making little animals, her name, and a few other things to stitch on later. For now, here is the quilt and some inspiration:
At the beginning of the year, I made a list of goals that I hoped we would accomplish throughout 2014. One of those goals was to live off-grid for one week each season.
It is quite easy to be off-grid in the winter, we found out. The warmth of the stove along with the soft glow of oil lamps made for calm, quiet evenings spent with tea and good books. We didn’t miss the fridge as it was cold enough on our porch to keep our food fresh (and cold enough outside to keep things frozen).
Evenings: After Alma fell asleep in the evenings, we read books, worked on projects (knitting, sewing, house), or just hung out. Evenings were much quieter than usual without the temptation to watch a movie. We went to bed a couple hours earlier than usual.
Days: Not much changed. We sang a lot while working and playing since there was no background music with which to hum along.
What We Liked: I loved knowing that my options for entertainment were limited; it was easier to focus on books or projects when there were only a few choices.
What We Missed: I missed the vacuum-cleaner the most. Sweeping the carpet just doesn’t give you the same satisfaction as vacuuming. I also missed listening to Tonic (jazz) in the evenings.
When I heard that my sister-in-law was in labour, I immediately started working on the knitting project I had been planning on starting for weeks. I spent most of the evening/night knitting and praying, and finished the bunny a few hours after my sweet little nephew was born.
“To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
“To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
“To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
“To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
“To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
“To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
“To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
“To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
“To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
“To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
“To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
“To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
“To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths
“To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you
“To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
“To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart
“And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you
“This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.”
Journal from September 27, 2012 [33 weeks pregnant; living in a small cabin with electricity]
Growing up in Canada resulted in my having a fairly privileged upbringing. I was the only child of divorced parents (one of whom lived in Europe for a chunk of my childhood) and therefore I was pretty spoiled. I spent my summers travelling around Europe; I watched a lot of television and was fairly “plugged in” to technology. Perhaps this is why many people question my sincerity when I say things like “I’m excited to live off-grid in a yurt,”.
True, I have morphed from a MuchMusic-watching teenager to a strong CBC Radio supporter, and my tastes have changed from store-bought cannelloni to homemade curries. I no longer have a television, internet, or running water. My bathroom is an uncovered outhouse (perfect during the dry summer, slightly less convenient during a rainy autumn). I shower at the gym, at friends’ houses, or at my in-laws’ once or twice a week rather than in my own bathroom each morning. I write emails offline and save them for when I am in a wifi area.
Why the change? Why did I go from a climate-controlled home in the city to a 120 sq. ft. cabin next door to my in-laws? The expected and assumed answer is that I followed my husband, which is, of course, true. However, I love our lifestyle and I prefer the woods to a flushing toilet. I love the ease of being able to pee whenever I need to (which is terribly often now that I am nearly 8 months pregnant). I like that when I wake up in the night I have a view of the stars that one rarely gets to see. I like that our cabin gets cold at night and warm during the day. I like that, because our space is limited, we have only our favourite things displayed. I like that we have an old radio that fills our cozy home with jazz each night, and I love that I am learning to live without a tap.
Living humbly allows us to work less and travel more. Although my husband never stops working (whether he is building a Land Rover, making pottery, or harvesting vegetables), he enjoys his work and does not feel it is a job. Luckily, when I am teaching, I also enjoy my work. At the moment I am not teaching; rather, I am preparing for the baby (which means sleeping a lot more during the day than ever before). So despite making a fraction of what our friends make in a year, we feel extremely rich and don’t feel deprived in any way. We have spent the past few months working and travelling together, which is more than I could ever ask for.
We are building the yurt ourselves and in such a way that it is costing approximately one year’s worth of rent. So far, all of the wood is our own (cut down from my in-laws’ woods) and we have only had to buy a few supplies (canvas, wool felt, nylon cord). The yurt has cost about $5000 so far, so I am estimating that when all is said and done it will cost between six and seven thousand (this includes flooring, plumbing, etc.).
Update: The yurt ended up costing around $7000 total.
I must be missing my students, because I have been on a bit of an “educational toys” kick lately. Because I know how important it is for young kids to become acquainted with letters and numbers, I want to have a variety of textured alphabets and number sets for Alma to play with when she is interested. At this point, she enjoys tossing her rag letters in the air, but mostly stuffs them under the couch cushions. Eventually, she will explore the letters more carefully and will learn the shapes of them. Once she knows what they look and feel like, she will be better equipped to learn their names and sounds.
Journal from March 5, 2014
As Alma and I attempted to clean the house and prepare for a Mardi Gras pancake supper, Mike went out to feed the cows and put them in the barn for the night. He noticed our two bulls standing together in a strange place and investigated. Surrounded by snow lay a newborn calf who blended in so well with the surroundings that Mike would have missed her were it not for her spectators. He picked up the tiny cow and brought her into the barn to warm up.
After about an hour of trying to warm her in the barn, he carried her into the yurt and lay her down near the stove. Mike, his mom (a retired vet), and I spent the night cuddling the calf and trying to feed her via bottle (rubber nipple attached to an old soy sauce bottle).
Thankfully, our friend Kris was able to give us fresh milk from his farm for the newest member of ours, as the calf’s mother seems unable to nurse (she’s had problems with mastitis in the past). The calf began to warm up from the heat of the stove (and possibly from the many hands patting her), but her body temperature was (and still is) way below normal.
We called a vet who came and intubated her so that we could get some colostrum into her system. He fears that she has an intestinal obstruction that will prevent her from passing anything. We are praying for a miracle. I have high hopes for the sweet little cow resting peacefully on my kitchen floor. She is making cute noises in her sleep.
We have decided to name her Queen Maria. Queen – because her mother’s unfortunate name is Princess; Maria – because I am currently reading The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp and am in love with it.
Update: Unfortunately, the calf ended up passing away in her sleep that night. We assume the vet was correct in thinking that she had an abdominal obstruction of some sort. On a brighter note, two healthy calves were born this past month (one of them today!).