Family, Friends, and Cat!
So, I’m finally going to update you, my lovely readers, on what is going on with me and my husband on the farm! Thanks for your patience!
This year, my parents decided to move off the farm and into town to officially retire. This is a huge step for them — they’ve lived in this one place for all their married life, which is over 40 years. My dad didn’t want to be one of those old farmers who just doesn’t know when to quit, so he has been downsizing for a few years and this year, they were ready to make the big move.
So, my husband and I decided to take over. Although I love the North, moving back to the farm I grew up had such appeal to me, I just couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
So, we did it! We packed up all our possessions, loaded them into the biggest truck that UHAUL rents, and moved south. What an insane week that was! It took two trips, seven days (with one rest day in the middle) and I think we logged something like 3200 km on that UHAUL!!
We put our house on the market — our real estate agent came by to take photos WHILE we were starting to pack! She did an amazing job staging our home! For as long as this link works, you can see our listing here.
I don’t know how we accumulated so much stuff. It’s crazy. And we don’t need most of it, by far. I am seriously wanting to declutter and so as we unpacked, I started making up boxes of things to give away — I know, it seems like we did it in reverse, but my parents were anxious to move and not have the house on the farm empty for more than a couple of days. So, we moved in haste! Not the recommended way to move! On the first trip, we got away a bit later than planned — those last few things always take longer to load than you think — so we drove all night to get to our new home. We figured we might as well just git ‘er done!
Has living on the farm affected me yet, other than the pleasant rural slang? I don’t think so. I went through a frustrating stage where I couldn’t find anything. I went through an overjoyed stage, where I was like a kid playing on the yard! So glad for some time off, some sunshine (October was so lovely!), and so glad to be with my honey again!
Things have settled in a bit, and although I am still very grateful to be here, regular doses of reality keep me grounded. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams! I have SO many ideas for things we can do on the farm! I want to convert one (or 2?) of the buildings here into a greenhouse, and fix fences and get some sheep to “mow” the grass, and maybe get some ducks and some more chickens (I only have two at the moment)… :) There is a main barn, several graineries and other small buildings, and a milk house, garage, and large shop space all with wood stoves, and corrals and fences all over the place. I could go in a hundred different directions, but here’s what I think is the biggest, best idea:
I want to turn the farm into a “care farm.”
I want to have animals and a greenhouse that people can visit when they are not feeling well and they need to reconnect with nature. They might be fighting an illness or facing death, or recovering from a stressful incident. The farm will be a place they can go for a walk, see the sheep, cows, and chickens — maybe even rabbits!! — and enjoy the outdoors. Although this is the dream, I don’t have a detailed plan, so I’m really excited to see how it all unfolds!
Contact me if you’re interested in finding out more, or if you have an idea or a desire to help!
(Click for larger version of photos below.)
My parents came to visit me a little while ago. They have always been great about coming to see me wherever I live. First, it was Sudbury, then High Level, and now Fort Simpson. They enjoy seeing the place I live and I think they enjoy hearing me ramble on as I give them the tour, sharing whatever local info I know, and telling them about the people I have met and the attitudes I have noticed. My parents are some pretty adventurous people! Don’t let the fact that they’ve lived in the same place for over 40 years fool you!
The instant I said hello to them and gave them each hugs, I felt like I was home. It was an interesting feeling — I felt at ease, like I could finally be myself. I had not noticed not being myself, but I guess I had pretenses and masks I was using. I guess we all do, and I realize how lucky I am to have such an awesome relationship with my parents.
I love them, of course, but it’s more than that. They are neat people. I like hanging around them. They have interests and hobbies, quirks and neat personalities. My mom likes to collect rocks from places she goes. My dad jokes about drinking Coke or Pepsi, calling it “the hard stuff,” and now his favourite is Dr. Pepper. Both like to read, albeit in totally different genres. Like me, my dad likes true stories, especially stories of pioneers, explorers and wildlife. My mom, surprisingly, likes crime fiction — the more suspense, the better! Mom is doing pretty well with technology, but like me, isn’t overly keen on it just for the sake of new technology. My dad pretty much stays away from the computer, which I understand. When they arrived, they were pretty tired from the crazy week leading up to their holiday, so we all had a nice, long nap in the afternoon. Man, I love napping! And so do they. Both of them have great senses of humour, and they even listen to my opinion on things and sometimes ask for my advice. They aren’t afraid to turn things on their side and look at them in a new way.
In so many ways, I am like them! I am unquestionably their daughter — like a hybrid between the two of them. I love a lot of the same things they love. I do all sorts of things the same way they do — from how I keep my recycling, to organizing my kitchen cupboards, to how I think about money. I suspect a lot of the similarities are genetic, but of course we have a lifetime of shared experiences, too. Perhaps it was our religion when I was growing up that taught us not to believe everything we hear or conform to the crowd. We can talk farm stuff, because we all “get it.” Try agricultural analogies with city people, and it’s like making Jesus references in a room full of tribal Africans. Even though my personal development has taken me down a different path, we still relate amazingly well.
I think what it boils down to is that everyone expects people to act like they do. One friend of mine brings me newspapers, not because I love newspapers, but because he does. Some people are rude because they expect rude behaviour (it’s great fun to be polite to them and throw them off their game). My parents expect me to be like them and I am, so there’s an amazing synergy. When we communicate, we intuitively understand each other. We can also spend time together without words. It’s incredibly special, something that only happens with friends after a lot of time together.
I am so amazingly lucky to have this relationship of respect, love and friendship with my parents. If I could show them how I feel, I would… and I guess I do. Mom, if you’re reading this, I know you’ll “get it.” And then you can print it out for Dad so he can read it, too.
I love my dad. Although he doesn’t have my strong optimistic streak, he is generally pretty content. The last time we chatted, however, he was a little upset about something, and that something was money. He had recently found out what some oil rig workers made per hour, and was amazed, flabbergasted, and frankly, a little jealous that someone could make so much money. He is a farmer — mostly chickens, a few beef cows — and hasn’t made an hourly wage since he did a little work as a welder, repairing broken cargo carts that they use at the airport to load airplanes. He also worked for many years as a bulk milk truck driver (class 1 license, part-time work), and before buying the farm, he did road construction. He said he made $3.60/hour back in the day, which was a really good wage! These days, though, he sells eggs at the farmer’s market and hay at the auction mart (and privately) and both are prized for their excellent quality. He gets top dollar! But it ain’t no oil worker’s wage. Mind you, he is supposed to be getting ready to retire — it can be a multi-year process for farmers. In any case, he tends to get upset when he hears what some guys are making these days. Big numbers!
I have two friends that have been working 7 days a week, 12-hour days, and their employer is six weeks behind in their pay. Six weeks! That’s quite a while to go without any income; most of us couldn’t even do it. Needless to say, they are getting pretty grumpy about it, and are starting to catch the rarely-spoken-about Northern disease of greed. Okay, so it isn’t just a Northern disease, but it’s getting to the point where they aren’t going to do anything without being paid in advance. I can’t say I exactly blame them… but it does make me revisit the idea I occasionally entertain about how a moneyless society would work.
Money. Why does it matter so much? Why do we use it to define our worth? It absolutely shouldn’t be associated with our worth, but it often is. I see it as simply a more convenient way of exchanging resources than carrying around chickens to trade. So why not go back to chickens? If we did, my dad would be one of the richest guys around! Plus, he also has hay, grain, and all sorts of other very practical, tradeable (and edible) items. But most of us don’t have such things — we are stuck exchanging our talents, skills and/or time (abstract things) for numbers on a piece of paper (or computer screen).
It’s the curse of the purse: we need to work, but it doesn’t go smoothly and we don’t enjoy it. We do it all because we are too wrapped up in the numbers: the money we will make.
Work 18 hours straight? Sure, great overtime! Work 25 days in a row? Awesome, bring it on! Work a job we don’t believe in? Sure, if it pays well! We don’t agree to do these things because we actually want to do them — we do it because we have dollar signs in our eyes. We forget our principles, and what’s important to us. In my personal philosophy, money should enable us to do things we want to do — that’s why we work. But too often, we work to make bigger numbers, to pay off bills or debts for things that we don’t even enjoy. We live beyond our means, and then try to make the means bigger, and as a result, we get grumpy, angry and greedy. It’s the curse of the purse.
Can you believe how much money Bill made last year? It’s insane! Comparing ourselves with others — be they famous, coworkers or friends — is a surefire way to feel dissatisfied. We work harder than Bill. We work longer hours than Bill. We know the job better than he does and have better skills. We should be making more money than Bill! Thinking this way is so unproductive. It would be better if we never knew how much money others made, ’cause when we do, and it can frustrate us to no end. It’s curse of the purse again.
As much as we might like to, we can’t go back to trading chickens. So many of us are stuck in very sedentary, impractical jobs where immaterial things are traded for money. Clicks equal dollars. Information, cents. Trading our days for numbers. Wish we had more. We’re all trying to live with the curse of the purse hanging over us. All we can do is stop being driven by the numbers, and start living life again — doing things we enjoy, both as work and as play. Spending time with ones we love. Appreciating the little things. Spending time in nature. Reconnecting with ourselves.
Wherever or however you do it, if you stop paying so much attention to the numbers on the piece of paper, you won’t be the only one. I’ll be right there with ya.
Remember the last post about super powers? (Go read it now if you haven’t yet.) I didn’t tell you what Darren wanted — it’s awesome and totally original. He wanted the power to pull the exact change out of his pocket each and every time he needed to pay for something. We nick-named him “Exact Change Man” and although we laughed a bit at first, it didn’t take long for us to realize the REAL power in this super power.
First of all, no more picking through change or counting cash. You just reach into your pocket and pull out exactly the right amount. You probably got that right off the bat. Doesn’t sound too profound eh? We don’t count cash much anyway, because most of us use debit or credit most of the time. (The other day, I was glad I had cash though, because the interac machine at the gas station in Enterprise was broken. Enterprise is a key gas stop for me on my way to Fort Simpson, and without topping up the tank, I would not make it all the way.)
Okay, getting back to Exact Change Man. What about if you want to buy something really expensive? Reach for your credit card? Nope. Just put your hand in and voilà — you have every dollar you need. Want to buy something else a minute later? Reach in, and presto, instant money. It’s the BEST super power I’ve ever heard of! Over and over again, you can pull out the exact amount you need!
You know, when Law of Attraction enthusiasts go on and on about how you can manifest wealth, I don’t exactly jump up and down. I don’t have a fear of money or success, but money for the sake of money just doesn’t grab me. Reaching into your pocket infinitely to pay for whatever you need at any moment does! I guess for me, wealth is not about money or numbers in a bank account — it is about having the freedom to travel and have really neat experiences because you were at the right place at the right time. In our society, it takes money to travel and do things, so the more you have the more you can do. (I still dream of a money-less society, but more on that another time.)
So ya, I want to be Exact Change Woman. Maybe it’s a silly dream, but hey, don’t they say we should aim for the stars? We won’t exactly reach them but… it just means to dream big.
Every year, I like to do a summary of how the year went, what was good, what was bad and what I’m looking forward to. So here goes!
The Fire Department
I have been really active on the fire department, particularly in the winter and fall (paddling off-season). I’ve literally lost count of how many calls I’ve been on, but it’s a lot! I’ve been to MVCs, building fires, a great mock-accident at the High School, a few fire alarms and medical assist calls. I spent nine hours on the roof of Extra Foods for a fundraiser, and yes, I can add that to the list of Weird and Unusual Places I Have Peed (that will have to be another post)! I’ve helped out with some fire hall tours — I always have fun with the little people. I’m not a newbie any more; we had eleven new recruits start in fall, so I have actually been giving some advice and help to them, both in the hall and on calls. I’m in that netherland between newbie and experienced firefighter. I’ve gone to lots of training, and I now know enough to be dangerous! Seriously, I have learned a lot, but there is still so much more to know. I started taking the Emergency Medical Responder course, but unfortunately had to drop out. It was a good course, and it covered a lot more than I expected. Even though I only did about a third of it, I’m glad I went — now on medical calls, I have a much better idea of what the EMRs and EMTs are doing, and I can help out more. I’m getting fairly good at a few simple tasks, but I am still challenged on virtually every call, which is why I joined the department in the first place! Never a dull moment — and that’s what’s life’s all about! | Fire Dept posts |
I’ve got to say, my personal life has been great this year. I’ve been surrounded by friends, and even when I was stressed about deadlines and completing the York boat on time (photos here), I still had people around me, notably my friend Michelle’s parents in Calgary, who gave me a place to stay for two weeks, fed me, and were so amazingly generous and kind. My relationship with my husband has been great, and we’ve been connecting better all the time. I enjoy our late-night pillow talk; we just chat about whatever has been on our minds. When I am stressed, I can tell him about it and we figure out something that will help. I am so loved by friends and family, sometimes it just amazes me… I am so full of gratitude and appreciation!
Flow North had a great year! After doing the Paddling the Peace River guide for GeoTourism Canada, I was hired to run the York boat project, and then I got to be the Captain of the boat on the big, 18-day expedition. It was fantastic! I couldn’t have asked for a better crew, although at times, looking for a crew stressed me out the most. In the end, it worked out so incredibly well, one could only say I was blessed. I’ve got 5 more best friends than I had before the month of June. Beyond the York boat, I got to run a couple of canoe camps, several canoe parties, expeditions, and had lots of fun at our weekly “Family Canoe Nights” as well. What a *great* summer we had! It didn’t hurt that, as usual, we had the nicest summer weather of the province, and perhaps even in all of Canada! Not much rain, lots of sun!
A Few Struggles
That’s not to say it was all sunshine and roses. There were a few struggles in the fall, with some bills from the summer piling up and expenses from the York boat not being paid. Things got a bit slim, but that’s what happens some times when you’re in business for yourself. We have exchanged time freedom for money freedom — we have plenty of the first and less of the second, whereas most people have very little time freedom, but more money to work with. We created a few websites in the fall, which was great. I’m really quite proud of what we did: Northern Express, Fox Haven Golf and Country Club, Patrick Cameron
Even though we have time freedom, I still felt the crunch of not enough a few times. I am still volunteering as the secretary of the Northern Lights Forest Education Society, which is developing new trails and busy with various other activities. I am also a board member of the Mackenzie Frontier Tourist Association, which has taken up a bit of time on web development and other duties (I’m not ready to share that website yet — it still needs a lot of work)! On the other hand, I stood up for myself when the workload was getting too big and said “I can’t keep doing this for free. Normally, I charge for this work.” There is always good in the bad!
The Coming Year
There are lots of changes a-coming, which I won’t go into right now. But my vision for the year includes:
- being more consistent in exercising
- planning our meals better so I feel more organized
- continuing to learn more about fire fighting
- getting a part-time job doing radio work, either dispatching or in air traffic services again (woo hoo!)
- expanding my business and being amazed at my success, yet again!
- doing lots of fun things with my husband and friends!
- being more carefree and playful (and helping my friend publish a book all about play!)
So, most of the time, I am excited and eagerly anticipating the year to come. When I’m not? When I get caught up in the business of life and my to-do list. Nothing new there! Stay tuned for more adventures!
My husband is a morning person. I am not. After careful observations of his strange habits and energy levels, I have made several conclusions.
He isn’t perky, alert and annoying first thing in the morning on purpose, it’s just the way he is. :) And, we make a great partnership because
1. We agree that 3 pm should be nap time, and
2. When going on road trips, he drives the first part and I take over later on (when I’m fully awake)!
So I’m trying to be kind to him in the evening when he’s sleepy, remembering how I feel when I’m a zombie in the morning. :P
My parents came up for a visit last weekend, and although it is great to sit, chat and catch up on things going on in our lives, before long, we all felt like getting up and doing something! I’d been wanting to explore some of the areas west of here, and thought my parents might enjoy that too. Friday was their driving day, so we went for a walk but kept it low key that evening.
Saturday, I made breakfast for us, we relaxed around the house for a little while, and then went to a local bookstore where a friend of mine volunteers. We chatted, knitted, and moaned about our next big knitting project — the shipwreck shawl, which as we struggled to start with the “simple” loop cast on, we nicknamed “the wreck.” :) We took my parents to the little coffee shop in town, where we got our fancy coffees, and had a light lunch. Then it was across the street to the Macleod’s hardware store, which my parents love to visit, because it’s a bit like a general store and has some of the strangest, oldest things around! My mom got quite excited because they had inoculant — a substance used to promote plant growth when seeding a garden — which is apparently quite hard to find.
The next day was cold and miserable, as May long weekends typically are, to spite everyone who’s been waiting all winter to go camping. Inevitably, the campgrounds are full and the people are shivering! We stayed around home and planned the big adventure for the next day.
You see, I thought it would be nice to show my dad some buffalo, in the wild. I figured he’d really get a kick out of it, and I’d been hearing about herds near Rainbow Lake and Assumption for a while and had not yet made the trip to either place. This is a Buffalo Protection Area, and they roam wild and are not contained in any way. They are doing so well, the government has recently issued tickets for them, for hunters to shoot them. We only wanted to shoot them digitally, so off we went, with our cameras, bags of snack food and backroads map book, to find the buffalo.
We went first to the Chateh/Assumption native reserve, where I’d heard the buffalo were often seen roaming in town. We didn’t see any, but there were a few horses unrestrained. The reserve was fairly typical of those in this area, with gravel roads, smallish run-down houses, and as we drove past the grocery store, we weren’t sure if it was closed just because of the holiday or permanently (it looked pretty sad). We drove by the blackened shell of a house, the remains of a house fire. I’m not usually surprised by the use of ATCO trailers around here — they serve as hotels, restaurants, offices, everything! — but was shocked to see the provincial courthouse made up of 4 or so put together. I just wasn’t expecting that. We drove completely through the town part of the reserve, until the road changed from packed gravel to loose gravel-dirt. As I felt the road get softer and softer, I was a little nervous about going on, in my 2-wheel drive car, until we came to the end of the road, marked with green surveyor’s tape.
Then I was really nervous about turning around without getting stuck! I did it though, and we backtracked to the town, joking about going to the end of the line. We drove around until we found the RCMP detachment, where a friend of mine works, but the member we talked to said she was off for the weekend. He gave us a tip about where the buffalo probably were, then received a call and drove away, lights flashing. He had said to drive out towards the road we were just on, but look for one that went off like a “Y.” We’d seen that trail, and opted to head back to the main road and drive up to the Hay-Zama Wildland Lakes Provincial Park where we finally saw the buffalo.
The country around there is different than most places; it’s flat, marshy, muskeg, with short, scrubby trees giving way to poplar and sloughs. There aren’t many signs of civilization, but it was near an overgrown cutline for a pipeline that I glimpsed the buffalo. Since being shot at, the buffalo are more shy, and in the time between me spotting them and turning the car around, they had retreated into the bush. My mom got only a picture of two large brown shadows in the brush (see below)! But we all got a glimpse and my dad was quite impressed by their size and healthy coats; they are much bigger than the domestic ones. It only took 2 and a half hours to find them!
We kept going to the Hay River and Hay Lake, enjoyed the sunshine and marvelled at the many hoof prints and shotgun shells near the shore. I doubt if that many buffalo were shot — people might have just been shooting off shotguns for fun. Fun is not the same in northern, remote places as it is in urban centres. After a little while, we drove back through the reserve to the highway and west to Rainbow Lake, a small oil-boom town near the end of the highway. Rainbow is on the side of a large hill, and has lots of tall pines and reminds me of rugged, foothills towns; the lake it’s named after is a widening of the Hay River, south of town. What a contrast to Assumption — white population, clean town, brand new hotel, golf course, new trucks, and large, rich, new houses with quads parked in front. I saw my first-ever quad speed limit sign! I guess they don’t want people going too fast, even if they’re wearing helmets. We saw quads on the reserve, too, as they seem to be an essential form of transportation and recreation.
So those were my recent adventures! Not everyone can say they have buffalo in the wild, almost in their neighbourhood, so I feel pretty lucky. :)
Let me share some pictures of the wedding and honeymoon! It was a great time… feels like longer, but it was only 3 weeks ago! Hard to believe!
So I’ve been thinking 2 things lately: Things usually happen gradually — everything from changes in the world, to the weather, to what kind of person I am becoming. So who am I becoming? Am I gradually becoming more loving, more kind, more understanding? Or am I becoming more judgmental, snappy or sarcastic? I do get snappy when I am hungry, but that is usually preventable, if I only make sure to take care of myself. In fact, if I take care of myself emotionally and spiritually, I am far less likely to be judgmental or sarcastic, too.
As for world changes, the “financial crisis” is pretty hot in the news (even though I never watch it). Well, it seems to me that when you play with pretend money too much, you are going to get in trouble. (“Pretend money” is loaned money, stocks and such.) In Jamaica, the majority of people live in small/half-finished houses, because the lending rate is so high, no one can afford a mortgage. So they save real money, and build on as they can (it is similar in Mazatlan, Mexico, where I visited in February). So although it may not be their dream house until they are old, it is all theirs, bought and paid for every step of the way.
The second thing I’ve been pondering — remembering from a class I took — is that when some new idea comes along, test it by saying “if that were true for me, would I be more free?” For example, if I hear that the real estate market is going downhill, I can think “if that is true for me, would I be more free?” The answer: nope! I might start to worry or mope, which is not adding to my freedom. So, I don’t focus on it, and in that way, it’s not true for me. I don’t think it is true, so it has no power over me then. Make sense?
The same phrase can be applied to a new thought like “so-and-so is a hag.” Does that make me more free? Nope! Because then I want to avoid that person (which is hard work in a small town!) or I have to work at biting my tongue… definitely not more free! So I can choose to have a new thought, one that is more understanding or less judgmental.
Anyways, that’ll give you something to think about! Have a great day!
What to blog about the first time after the big day?! I decided that it would be nice to share with you the wedding vows that Darren and I wrote together and said to each other that fateful wintry day just over 2 weeks ago. Darren agreed with me, and so below are the vows that we said (me through tears about half way through!) as part of the ceremony.
I know that there is not two, but one. We are on the same journey, sharing the same love for each other. I share everything, hold nothing back, love completely and without reservation. I do now, and will always believe the best in you, speak the truth in love, and hold you in perfect prayer. I love you with the deepest love I know. I rest in this love, which is in you and me, and everything, and I am full of joy and gratitude.
Our journey of spiritual unfoldment continues from this day, originating from the same Source, fueled by the same Love, nurtured by the same unending commitment to our mutual growth in Spirit.
And so it is.
Such depth to those words… it is good to remind myself of them, even now! Every day! :)
There’s a really cool part to this – because we chose to do our wedding as part of a regular Sunday celebration, and because the Centre is now podcasting their weekly messages (which Darren is taking care of), you can listen to the whole thing by using this link. So, if you missed the big day due to the bad weather, or for any reason, you can have a listen and hopefully feel like you didn’t miss out! :) Look for December 7, 2008, and if it’s not there, check back in a week or so… it will be posted shortly!
So life is treating me very well and I am happy, content and feeling great. My mantra lately is Love… Gratitude… Joy… Contentment… Peace… Acceptance… (and then it repeats).
And it just so happens to be December 25th as I (finally) post this, so Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it! And to those of you who don’t, just enjoy the day where “Peace on Earth” is thought about! :)