Jan 29, 2009

My Dad's Dream

He would have loved this, my dad. This new, slow, rural life. Time and space to putter. Air to breathe. Wood to chop and land to hoe. This is the life my smart, educated, hardworking teacher-dad would have loved.

I'm living it for me, not him, but I can feel his energy, feel his approving smile and sweaty forehead. I can feel in me the Joy and connection he would have felt, the freedom he longed for. And I can feel his pride at the man I've become.

He was a living contradiction, a man torn between who he wanted to be and who he believed he was. Like a magnet turned the wrong way, he would attract people with his charisma and energy even while his social phobia really wanted to push them away. A man of great strength of character and determination, he could never overcome the addictions that ruled his dark side. And for all the deep powerful love and devotion he felt for his family, his grandchildren, and his loyal lifelong friends, he could never find that same love for and faith in himself.

One big reason for our move back to Canada was to be with him in his last years. To honour the strong bond he had with our boys -especially Galen, who was old enough to understand the deep love and unwavering commitment of his "Far-far." Through the struggles we faced with his drinking, I came to better understand and accept his unique love for me, and the character we share. I am fully aware and appreciative of the parts of his spirit that shine through me, and equally aware and cautious of the parts I choose not to perpetuate.

The post I wrote two days ago about giving more to our mothers is a lesson I learned through him. In his final, darkest years, we gave him the gift of family, of being close, of staying close through his struggles. His love and connection to us was a source of strength and Joy that I pray will be among my final memories and gifts from my own family when my time comes to move on. We gave back to him when he needed us most, and in that process came to understand all he gave to me. This closure is what lets him live on in our life and on our land - in the cold northern winds, in the song of the river and my corny country songs, in the sweet drips of the maple trees.

We kept his ashes in a cardboard box for 2 years, intending each month to plant a fruit tree along the sidewalk for the schoolkids to enjoy. And it kept not happening. Then on our first weekend in this new house, with my brother here, it all made sense. Although he always said he wanted just to left in a compost heap, a busy Vancouver sidewalk wasn't the right place. He was meant to rest here, nurturing the quince tree we chose to plant to celebrate our arrival Home.

Inspired, intrigued, amused? Please pass it along by email, facebook, twitter..."

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Jan 27, 2009

Conflict, Cougars, Chauvenists and Mothers-in-laws

Some of my recent published articles on Carrie&Danielle have provoked some strong responses and arguments from readers with different points of view. Surely that is my role as a writer - to provoke thought and even action - and I've enjoyed the back&forth mutual learning process. Check out the comments that follow these articles:
  • A review of cougar movies, exploring the double-standard of why it's OK (in movies) for older women to deflower underage boys but not vice-versa. It was pointed out quite strongly (and correctly) that with the exception of underage targets, the double-standard is actually that older men are accepted and expected and celebrated for dating younger women, whereas it's the older women who are defamed as "cougars."
  • Real Men Like Women Who Change Their Names - I was exploring my own double-standard - why I would be unwilling to change my name but was happy when Sarah unexpectedly (and without being pressured or expected to) chose to adopt my family name. I was still basically called a chauvinist.
  • Popcorn and a Movie - My rather strong opposition to violent movies was met with an equally strong defense of society's enjoyment, fascination, and (allegedly) need to see such violence on screen. I had to call in my eloquent friend Dr. Robert Arjet, who did his dissertation on violence in movies, to tie it all together with his final comment.
The article I expected more reaction to was a rather tongue-in-cheek listing of Ways to be a Dysfunctional Son-in-Law. Behind the attempt at humour was an honest acknowledgment that we children often take our parents for granted, rather than honouring and nurturing the relationship as we would any other friendship.

Maybe we're just spoiled by their unconditional love to think that we don't have any responsibilities or reciprocation. Reality is, if you're lucky like me, you've got a mother and a mother-in-law who are both magical with the kids, will drop anything to come help, and inject more into our lives than our occasional gifts and calls and chore-helping could ever repay. Our lives - our whole family, not just our kids - is richer and fuller and smoother and more beautiful because of their active, selfless presence in so many ways. I guess it will always be unbalanced, and I should expect that from my boys too, but that's no excuse for not trying to give back a little more.

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Jan 22, 2009

Milestones for a 5-year-old

Zekiah's kindergarten teacher has asked us to write down a few highlights from each of his 5 years for tomorrow's birthday celebration. We were initially stumped - the second-child amnesia syndrome - and then faced the difficulty of pinpointing specific events. We are deeply aware of the beautiful unfolding and blossoming of this beautiful sun-wind child, but fuzzy on details or incidents that illustrate it all.

In the same spirit as my December ode to Galen on his birthday, here's what I'd really like to say about my boy Zekiah. I admire his confidence, his ease with people, his pure and undivided Joy at whatever or whomever he's engaged with at the moment. That same passion that leads him to flop down on the floor or under the bed in total soul-wrenched despair when I removed Galen's sock from his foot this morning - to love and understand Zekiah is to embrace that deep hurt or sense of injustice that occasionally balances the usual laughter and easiness.

He can enter a group of any age and become part of the activity if he chooses, or just as comfortably do his own thing completely unconcerned with whether or not he's part of the gang. He loves to help - dig, cook, clean, hang laundry, anything - though I know that may change by his next birthday. He's strong, powerful in his body, and at the same time so tremendously sensitive that he has always wanted to wear soft pants, and pouts his sad lower lip down below his chin at a scrape or unjust bump. "Galen bonked me." His need for justice and fairness is strong - never crafted to his own advantage. When Galen's chocolate Santa went missing, Zekiah instantly offered to cut his in half.

we continue to be amazed and a bit spooked by his intelligence, particularly ability to see patterns. He can whip through a 100-piece puzzle, make plans for the whole day involving multiple people, and knows which Mexican bingo cards have the highest probability of winning. When Sarah gave him (at age 4 1/2) the task of sorting jars into wide-mouth or narrow-mouth, he quickly figured out how to hold a second jar upside down on top of the first one to compare them - far more accurate and efficient than my eyeball method. One of my challenges as a parent is to celebrate and nurture these strengths but also to recognize that it's just one area of excellence, to be balanced by pursuit of other aspects of his intellectual and spiritual life. If he is destined to some particular path, that will unfold in later years, not be pushed now.

Everyone, and especially me, feels happy and energized when with Zekiah. He brings light and energy and enthusiasm into a room, fills it up with his eagerness even when he's quiet and intensely watching and learning from what's around him. May he always be this loving and inspiring of others and confident and easy in himself.

Having said all that, here's the bullet list of moments that will be understood by his kindergarten peers:

  • Birth - Zekiah was so excited to get here that he came out faster than we could finish our pizza (We had to order another one afterwards to celebrate)
  • First year - Zekiah cried and cried a lot as a baby, and really needed to be with his mom. Then one day he stopped crying and was happy and free, and pretty much has stayed that way.
  • 2-year-old - Zekiah learned to "surf" in Tofino, and joined his brother's 4-5 year-old soccer team. He also loved to pick fresh kale and raspberries from our garden each day for our meals.
  • 3-year-old - His 3rd birthday party was a "Wiggle Worm" party, with slithering kid-worm races on the floor, a cake with yummy worms in it, and his uncle singing on a Wiggle Worms CD. Zekiah also learned to jump off the top bunk in his bedroom.
  • 4-year-old - Zekiah moved to Vancouver Island where he's learned to pick up and care for chickens, ride a 2-wheeler to school every day, and make syrup from our own maple trees. He's also helping his papa "build a house in our garage."

Jan 20, 2009

Stronger Than Gravity Am I

For a boy who turns five this week, something like gravity has to be felt, tasted, heard. As Zekiah was helping dig the foundation trench for our garage-->rental suite reno, he was exploring the concept of gravity, using the word interchangeably to mean, in adult words, dirt, weight, heavy, and the force of gravity. Rather than correct him, I managed to just hold onto and confirm his meanderings, wondering at the intricate manipulations his mind was making around such an amorphous concept.
  • This gravity is heavy. It's hard to lift, so i'm using this smaller shovel so there's not as much gravity.
  • The red clay is more gravity than the black dirt.
  • Rick (spoken in the long drawl that precedes a deep statement Reeeeeeeeeeeck!), you're stronger than gravity.
  • I have too much gravity on my hands - I'll wash before dinner.
Learning through doing, that's what this age is all about. I could have read many clever stories or educational books about gravitational forces, but never would he have even started to understand it as much as just letting his hands get dirty.

Bonus points to anyone who can name the broadway musical song I'm changing the lyrics to in this title. Hint - it's an adaptation of a James Mitchener novel.

Jan 17, 2009

No hyphens for this Man

One of the many great wonders of my marriage to fabulous Sarah is that she chose to give up a very spellable and pronounceable 5-letter last name to become a Juliusson - a name that i could not pronounce on the phone for about 2 years of adolescence. Check out my article about why this means so much to us menfolk, unfair as it may be.

ugh, it's midnight and i've finished watching Dark Knight and this syrup batch still isn't done, but the sap could go bad if i leave it another day. Sap started running yesterday due to the switch back to sunshine, which got me very very excited, but this late night obligatory boiling is a bit less romantic.

as is washing poop off of chicken eggs. I posted that activity on my facebook page
(let me know if you're also a facebook geek), and got lots of encouraging responses - "Treat yourself" being my favourite. Reality is, if we do go ahead and buy another 30 chickens to start selling eggs, i could be spending up to an hour a day washing poop. Mom, looks like that Christmas money you gave me for a special treat may go to an egg washer - believe me, it will end up being a real treat.

i have neighbours who let me use their internet when mine is down, then feed me supper ("fruit soup") knowing that my family's out of town and i'm out of veggie dogs. life is good. it's late, i'm babbling, gotta go check the syrup. have a sweet night.

One final visit from Ana Sisnett

On Thursday morning, my former boss from Texas was in my dream when Galen woke me up at 6am. I was a bit annoyed because I wanted to have more time with her, but also glad to wake up fresh so I could remember the dream, and somehow already knew that her gentle presence in the dream had already completed her message. This evening I googled her and, as I had intuited but not really believed, found that she had passed away just a day and half earlier.

In this beautiful dream,
we were sitting side by side on rocking chairs watching, of all things, Italian soccer on a big screen. Then it turned into a live show where a rich woman went into the house of another woman, who then said to her "You want to act like a poor woman, but I am a poor woman, and I've been with hard men, and look how ugly I am now!" Both women stared to cry, and Ana and I looked at each other realizing we were into something deeper now, a real connection between people, and we too were experiencing that connection. She was not at that moment the older (than me) Ana who had been my mentor and boss at Austin Free-Net. She looked in her late 20's, no eye injury, no gray hair, clear shining skin and shining eyes. I had never realized how beautiful she was, and had never before sat with her as an equal, as a true friend. She told me about a movie about "women's journeys" that she was "feeling a calling" to see.

I have not been in touch with Ana for almost 5 years, but woke up from this dream with a feeling that she had passed away and come to say goodbye. Why she chose to do so for me is far beyond my understanding, but Ana had a way of knowing people's needs, and touching us in ways that maybe takes years to understand. I now understand Ana's beauty and friendship in a way that I will carry with me and share with others. And even though I little understand the dream, I am comforted in knowing that she is still in spirit a strong, healthy, beautiful woman pursuing some other journey that she felt was her calling.

A beautiful tribute has been created for her (click here) that is moving and inspirational to read, whether or not you were lucky enough to have her in your life. And another passionate one by "Wanderlust." Go well on your journey Ana my boss, my mentor and, with this final gift, my friend.

Jan 16, 2009

The cat's away

Look out world, Rick's on the loose! Sarah and the kids are in "The Big Smoke" (Vancouver) all weekend - teaching pre-natal classes and enjoying their grandma respectively - so i am footloose and fancy free.

So what does a 41-year-old dad do when cut loose? Does he break out the cigarettes, whiskey and wild wild women? Well at the risk that my wife and mother will read this, here's the honest truth.

To celebrate the first time without my kids in several months, I spent all afternoon babysitting the neighbour kids. We emptied the garage, including pushing the John Deere that wouldn't start in the cold, then tore down one wall and pulled out all the nails to reclaim the wood. That's right, after finishing basement suites in the last 2 houses and swearing we were Done, it's reno time again - turning the garage into a 300 square foot rental suite. Build our community, make up for my lost income, and provide a much-needed rental space in this beautiful part of the world.

After hanging the laundry on our awesome basement ceiling lines and a typical abandoned-husband dinner of leftover soup and veggie dogs, I watched a video and hit the sack at 9:30. Do I sleep too much? Apparently not enough. Rather than a restless listening-for-the-kids-and reaching-for-my-wife night, I slept dead to the world for 11.5 hours until the phone pierced my slumber at 9am. Bliss.

Jan 11, 2009

Sweet syrupy success

It takes 5 hours to boil our biggest red stock pot (8 litres, 32 cups) full of maple sap down to half a small bottle (1/4 litre, 1 cup) of syrup. But boy does it taste good.

The psychologist in me would put it down to Effort Justification - the more effort/energy/money/time you put into something, the more you HAVE TO like it to justify it, otherwise you end up with too much cognitive dissonance. That's why we stay on hold for so long - to hang up after 20 minutes would cause us too much grief over wasted time. That's why we like $100 shirts better than $20 shirts, stay in bad relationships too long, and don't walk out in the middle of Adam Sandler movies.

The economist in me snickers that, in addition to the $50 outlay on equipment and a buck or two in electricity to heat an element for 4 hours, I spent 5 hours purchasing, tapping, and collecting the sap, and another hour of active labour over the last 4 hours of boiling (it doesn't need stirring, thankfully). All to get half a bottle of syrup - about $5 in a store. So if I pay myself 75 cents/hour and spread out the capital costs over 4 years, I broke even tonight.

But the connoisseur in me is lamenting that we don't (yet) have a sheep to give us high-fat milk to make ice cream so we could pour this hot liquid gold over it right now. It has a rich musky flavour that's much stronger than the normal Eastern maple syrup, albeit less sweet.

The McGivor in me loves the homemade apparatus we contrived to slowly drip the sap into the boiling pot. All we had to do is refill the tin can with the small hole in it every 10 minutes or so.

And the homesteader in me is enthralled with the whole darn thang, and is learning not to count hours let alone try to assign monetary values to them. I enjoyed discussing my equipment purchase with the folk down at Buckerfields Farm Store, loved tromping outside in the snow with the boys to tap and collect, and was fascinated by the boiling down process this evening.

Yet another detached industrialized product from my youth has magically come to life and invited me into her web, opened her mysteries to me, made me her sweet sappy lover. Every new learning connects us more to our sources.

Jan 10, 2009

Tapping Maple Trees

Locavore dilemma: if we only eat produce from within 100 miles, how can we live without syrup on our pancakes?
Solution: make it ourselves.

Yes, you can make syrup from BC's big-leafed maple, so of course we are trying. For the past few days we've started 'sugaring off". Drilling 2-inch holes in our maple trees (affectionately called 'sugarbush' by us harvesters), sticking a tap in and connecting it with a hose to milk jugs. Every 2 or 3 days we'll empty all those jugs into bigger vats for hours and hours of boiling, and once we've collected about 45 litres we'll have enough for 1 litre of syrup. Probably won't get a year's supply of Aunt Jemima from our 20 trees, but what a great experience.

Our boys and their two friends were out helping yesterday, and at one point all 4 of them were on their hands and knees in the snow, nuzzled up to the trees they had just tapped, hoses in their mouths, sucking sap directly from the trees, blissful as a newborn on the boob. And they've been faithfully checking the jugs each day, excited to be learning, eager for the next discovery - a homeschooler's dream scenario. In one ongoing activity they have learned and participated in:
  • sterilization of the milk jugs
  • printing - labelling the jugs
  • power tools - yes, of course they got to use the drill!
  • tree identification - no use tapping the alders
  • weather systems - syrup runs best on a low pressure day following 2 high pressure days
  • math - average 2-4 litres of sap per day for a month or two, divided by 45 litres of sap per litre of syrup, equals a conservative estimate of one litre of syrup per tree per year
  • business - how can we produce enough for sale, where will we market, profit margin...
  • nutrition, cooking applications
  • exercise, fresh air
  • connection to and respect for nature

Not only can we make syrup, but the sap ("maple water") itself is sweet enough to be a substitute for water in many recipes. It helps bread rise better, and tomorrow I'll use it to make a slightly sweet, slightly maple-tasting rice. Plus it's nutritious, containing minerals including calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron, and vitamins B2, B5, B6, niacin, biotin, folic acid and trace amounts of amino acids.

11 months ago we made our first exploratory visit to Duncan, and attended the first-ever maple syrup festival. Now we're fast becoming those strange sap-tapping people we talked to last year, planning to volunteer, and have already started explaining the process to many friends and a few fascinated Rona employees (as we purchased the drill bit and hosing). The gap between ignorance and perceived expertise can be frighteningly small - as small as a beautiful day in the snow with a drill and some eager kids.

Jan 7, 2009

Do I sleep too much?

This new Rick is well rested. In bed well before midnight, sleeps till 7, and taking frequent delicious afternoon naps with Zekiah. He is healthy, alert, and may well live longer. He's respecting his body, and in sync with this dark cold time of year that calls us to rest up for the long hours of farming to come.

BUT, he's not burning the midnight oil writing the Great Canadian Novel. He's not on Skype with Africa at 5am dealing with some crisis or brave new idea for ACCES schools. He's on zero sports teams and only one non-profit board. Is he just sleeping through his prime productive years?

The Rick I'm used to being is a motivated, ambitious man who sleeps little, Does much and Achieves greatly. In grad school I studied each weekday till midnight, played guitar with Ted and Mark till 1:30, then watched Mary Tyler Moore until 2:30, and was still up without an alarm at 7:20 each morning to swim laps in the pool before teaching Psych 101 to bleary-eyed freshmen. My body was trained to operate on minimal and efficient sleep, liberating hours and energy to get my masters degree in 2 years with top marks, volunteer at a youth crisis shelter, sing in an all-black (except me) gospel choir, cycle, play, fall in love more than once, and learn to bake my own bread.

"You're not 24 anymore," a little voice whispers (yours, perhaps?) But I refuse to believe that this 41-year-old version of me needs more than twice as much sleep. Maybe more than 5 hours a day, but this isn't about aging, it's about choice.

At 10pm we have a choice to succumb to that yawn or to launch in to a new project that will give another 2-hour burst of energy. At 6am the choice is to roll back over or, as I did this morning, to sneak out for a meditative hot-tub, yoga, and creative writing in this quiet connected daybreak world. Now it's breakfast time and I've already Done alot of satisfying and nurturing things, and feel fresher and more alive than when my family let me sleep until 8:45 yesterday (though that was a blissful oddity).

Ultimately, this is part of the recreation process for our family. I have walked away from the job and board presidency and civic involvement that typically defines men like me. Now it's a matter of revaluing myself as a fully alive and contributing member of society in the roles of dad, writer, house-husband, farmer, partner of a visionary woman, earth steward, chicken whisperer and community-builder.

So yes, it is about choice and creating healthy habits, a balance of sleep and action. But it's equally about acceptance and trust. Acceptance that I do need a bit more than 5 hours of sleep per night, especially at this restorative, gentle time of year. And trust that I am already putting energy into worthwhile activities, and that this restoration right now will let me kick into high gear and long hours of spring planting, summer weeding and fall harvesting, all while continuing to create community and nurture my family, community, and writing muse.

So what do you think? Is this a new, deeply rich Rick in touch with the rhythms of nature and balance, or am I just making excuses for becoming old and losing my edge?

Jan 6, 2009

Dr. Rutabega, I presume?

On Facebook I posted that i was researching rutabegas and endives, sparking a raging controversy over their plural forms (rutabegum, rutabega, endivum...). While that's not one of the more onerous pieces of research we are currently doing in planning our garden, it's a good launching point for showing the mountain we do have to overcome (though not necessarily all this year, Sarah keeps gently reminding me.)

For each and every vegetable we can imagine, we need to think and learn how to:
  • what is it? Honestly, i'm still not quite sure what rutabega is, how to spell it (some write "rutabaga"), or what it's proper name is (see the raging controversy at the end of this article)
  • do we want it? Does it taste good, fit into our mealplans, nourish out bodies, will our kids eat it... Is it high enough on the priority list to make the list of 20 or whatever number of things we end up agreeing to plant?
  • do others want it? Should we grow extra, and where would we be able to sell it, and what would the profit margin be? Do i want this to be my mark on society, to be known as Rutabega Rick?
  • where to find organic, non-GMO, heirloom seeds
  • which variety to pick - there are about 7,500 varieties of tomatoes for various growing conditions and uses. Hopefully not that many types of rutabega
  • how to prepare the beds - fertilizer, size, ideal soil type, sun exposure, does it follow the harvest of early potatoes or some other crop that prepares the soil
  • timing - when to plant, care and harvest, frost danger, do we transplant from a greenhouse or plant directly in the ground
  • crossplanting - does it benefit (or suffer) from being beside some other plant
  • planting - when, how deep, how much water to add, which way does the seed face
  • care - when and how often to weed, fertilize, water; how to know if it's healthy or needs help; and my biggest fear right now is what does it look like as it grows, so i don't weed the wrong things
  • harvest - when, how to know when it's ready, how to pull it out without damage
  • processing - preserving (freeze, cold storage, canning, sourkraut, pickling, jams...)
  • cooking - how many ways can we cook a rutabega
  • marketing - Farmers Market (do i want to regularly have a Rutabega Rick stand?), sell at neighbour's farm market stand, have regular customers, sell directly to restaurants...
And now for the interesting part - what to call it. Who (except the person who made the following Wikopedia entry) knew that one little root vegetable could inspire so many names:
"Swede" is the preferred term used in much of England, Wales, Australia, New Zealand and India, while "rutabaga" (from dialectal Swedish rotabagge, literally, "root ram") is the common American English term for the plant. In the U.S., the plant is also known as "Swedish turnip," "yellow turnip", or "wax turnip", (as it is sometimes sold with a waxy coating to preserve freshness) while in Ireland and Canada, where turnips are relatively unknown, it is referred to as a turnip. In Scots, it is either "tumshie" or "neep", and the turnip (Brassica rapa var. rapa) instead is called a "white turnip". Scots will refer to both types by the generic term "neep" (from Old English næp, Latin napus). Some will also refer to both types as just "turnip" (the word is also derived from næp). In North-East England, turnips and swedes are colloquially called "snaggers". They should not be confused with the large beet known as a mangelwurzel. Its common name in Sweden is kålrot (literally "cabbage root").

Jan 4, 2009

Favourite foods

Following a talk about the types of foods that Sarah ate during pregnancy (including Ethiopian food as the only restaurant fare she could stand for 6 months), Galen started listing his top 10 favourites: Ethiopian, lasagna, avocado, cucumber, carrot, crepes, banana, orange, pancakes, pear, water. Nary a commercially packed product, sugar-loaded candy, or advertising-induced fast-food chain to be found. What kind of 7-year-old are we raising?!

Zekiah's list was equally impressive for an almost-5-year-old: pear, orange, banana, crepes, pancakes, "normal pasta with no lasagna in it", tofu, salmon, fish, cheese, water.

Interesting to note the preponderance of imported fruits and products - a reflection of the forbidden fruit for our primarily locavore diet. We've managed to make bananas and oranges a prize treat for Grandma to indulge them with, rather than jello and Big Macs. A positive side-effect we hadn't anticipated when we switched to local produce.

Sarah (my wife) similarly had mostly imported goodies (except the first 4): salmon, mushrooms, corn, cheese, Ethiopian, oranges, avocado, miso gravy, dark chocolate, lime, mango.

And me, after much soul-searching and help from the kids: mango, dark chocolate, old cheese, lasagna, organic hamburgers, peanut butter, cinnamon, pumpkin leaves in African groundnut sauce, mixed home-made ice cream with crush-ins from Amy's Ice Cream in Austin Texas, fresh-made beet-carrot-apple juice, and anything that Sarah orders in a restaurant (I covet).

As i wrote this i ate some toasted home-made bread with organic imported peanut butter (stolen from our vacationing neighbour's house) and local honey. Not too bad, as indulgences go...

Jan 2, 2009

Nothing to Buy

We've moved to a place where most things in the stores are more expensive, yet we're saving money. Why? We simply spend less often.

I've published an article about it, so click here for all the details and tips. The basic idea is that we are pretty much free from the temptation to buy most of the time, simply because we don't live near any stores. I don't pass any on the way to school, and we both work from home and rarely go into town. I promise that in a blog entry sometime soon I'll compare our credit card statements to those from our Vancouver life, but I have no doubt that we've gone from an average of spending money at least twice per day to perhaps twice per week.

Another key, of course, is that we bought and preserved items when they were in season. The blueberries that we picked and froze in September are now being sold at 5 times the price. Not only does the one-time investment and minimal monthly electric cost of our new freezer enable us to continue eating local organic produce, but it's saving us bushels of money.

This coming year will hopefully usher in the third and biggest element to saving money - the zero-mile diet. I dream of a farm that supplies all our needs year-round; of never buying a zucchini again. We'll probably start with some core crops this year and expand as our knowledge and stamina increase over the years, but the thought of a steamy greenhouse full of tomatoes already makes me smile.

Jan 1, 2009

Nothing new this year (please!)

Last year Sarah and I sat in an enchanted rural Wisconsin farmhouse and plotted our 2008 Strategic Plan. The central vision was to not change anything, just to deepen existing riches. Then we sold our house, moved to Vancouver Island, left my job/career to become a stay-at-home dad/writer/farmer... Maybe this year we'll do better.

This life change is all so new - moved into this house end of September - that this does not in any way feel like the start of a new year. 2009 will be a time of great learning, solidifying, settling, and most of all, becoming. We will continue on this track of becoming a simple, slow family, creating time to be together as a family and community, learning to farm and homestead, integrating with the Cowichan community, marveling at the blossoming of our children. I will write and follow this path with increasing direction. Sarah will find a beautiful balance of business development and personal/family focus.

By the end of 2009, we will have a clear and deliberate picture of what this new life means. I am continuing to strive to not narrowly define what it must look like; rather, am just excited to see what I'll be writing this time next year.

First act of 2009 was to jump in the hot tub with 3 beautiful friends, fresh snow falling all around and once again coating the trees, dreaming about how to continue weaving our lives together. Now the 3 children are having quite different manifestations of that dream in that same tub, with the same together smiles.
What a day this has been, what a rare mood i'm in
why it's almost like being in love
There's a smile on my face for the whole human race

why it's almost like being in love