Cleaning out the basement

Changes are coming soon. My son is starting a new school in September in a new neighbourhood. I’ll be making changes when it comes to my work life. My partner and I are living together for quite some time now and have many discussions around purchasing a house together. I’m excited for the changes as I’m generally a person who loves variety and doesn’t like to let life to pass me by…

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Our garage sale happened today at the local community centre

One priority before these changes happen: I want to clean the basement. Downsize. It is no small task as I’ve amassed quite the collection of books, children’s clothing (my son’s outgrown clothes), children’s artwork (my son’s masterpieces over the past 11 years), bikes, CDs, my own editing and writing projects, photo albums, and clothes that I’ve somehow outgrown (or perhaps my sense of style just changed).

Like many, I connect memories and emotions to certain objects. To other people, a sweater is simply a sweater. To someone like me, who can have hoarding tendencies, my yellow cashmere cardigan might be stained and ripped but it might also remind me of the time when I was still breastfeeding my baby and went on a long walk down Queen Street West in Toronto during a beautiful spring evening more than 10 years ago! The milk stain might remind me of the close bond I felt when feeding my son his first food.

YIKES!

I’m trying to divorce myself from the strong feelings I attach to objects. They are simply THINGS and shouldn’t hold enough importance for me to carry around with me for 10 years after they have outgrown their usefulness.

In recent months I worked with a woman who has a spotless, very minimalist house. She also has two children, ages 10 and 12. I noticed that her children don’t seem to have any artwork on the walls, fridge, etc. In fact, I couldn’t see any trace of her children in the house at all! I asked my colleague about this and she says, “I look at their artwork and then recycle it.”

“Do you think that upsets them?” I asked.

“Yes, but they will need something to talk about during their future therapy sessions,” she laughed.

I found that to be a funny, yet perhaps extreme, perspective.

My partner inspires me with his own minimalism. He moved to Manitoba from overseas almost four years ago. He travels lightly. When we moved in together, we were able to fit almost everything he owned into my tiny blue Chevy. I want to be more like him, in so many ways, so today we held our LAST garage sale.

Why was it our last? I’ll tell you why; I wanted to help my son make a bit of spending cash by selling his nice wooden toys and Nerf guns (those things are expensive!). However, I also have made a couple of decisions (or perhaps I’ve simply set intentions) as I go through the motions of cleaning the basement AND the storage shed in our backyard.

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My son did a great job organizing all of his Nerf guns for the sale

My intentions:

  1. I’m going to think carefully before I purchase more objects. Do I really need this? How will this truly improve my life? I’ll think about these questions carefully.
  2. I’m going to value experience over things. My son is growing quickly and life is passing by. We’ve only travelled to a limited number of places. Since I never travelled ANYWHERE with my own mother, I’m hoping to travel and make special memories that will last far longer than any Nerf gun.
  3. When we outgrow our objects, I will pass them onto other families who can use them. I’ll try to think of people in the local community who will be happy to get more use out of some of our gently-used objects.
  4. One day, I hope to pack up and leave my current city. I hope that a wonderful opportunity for work or school comes to my son, my partner, or myself. When that offer comes, I want us to be ready to pack a few suitcases and JET!
  5. My final intention is to try to NOT be like my mother when it comes to objects. I’m not sure why, but my mom is/was definitely a hoarder. That’s a story (or several) for another time, but I can tell you I grew up around hoarding and it definitely has impacted my desire to NOT amass too many things.

We didn’t sell everything that I had hoped to sell at today’s garage sale, but we only had to make one trip with our car in the end (as opposed to the TWO trips we made to set up last night). We sold tons of things very cheaply, we donated a bunch of clothing to charity, we donated all the books we didn’t sell to the reading program at our local community centre, and we’ll sell our remaining big ticket items (bikes) on Kijiji.

In the end, my son is pretty pleased that he pocketed $147 after all was said and done.

When I ask what he is hoping to do with his money, he says with a shrug, “Save it.”

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Privacy and the peas

I’m growing a garden in a tiny yard in an urban space in Manitoba. We have a very short growing season. I’m trying to grow things in unusual containers that had been laying around the yard and storage shed.

In the springs I planted peas in an old recycling bin.

The peas are now about four feet tall. As you can likely see from this photo, we have a very small yard with little privacy from our neighbours. I’ve now precariously extended the climbing poles using duct tape, with the hope that the peas will get to five feet or higher and create a tiny (wee really) bit of a fence between me and my lovely neighbours.

 

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Another part of our yard faces a (somewhat) busy back lane.In that space I planted some more peas with the hopes of creating a tiny wall providing some privacy from the outside world.

I had a nice red pail and also an old water jug that I found in my mom’s old house. I cut off the top and voila! Now it’s a planter. These peas were planted later that the ones in the recycling bin, so they aren’t quite as tall.

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Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to be creative and use things that may be destined for the landfill.

Once we get actual peas, I’ll post another update. We now just have little blossoms where the peas will grow.

 

All I Want

“All I really really want is our love to do
Is to bring out the best in me and in you too.”

~Joni Mitchell, All I Want

Today I’m in love. I woke up feeling very relaxed next to my favourite guy, who was sleeping late and clearly enjoying it. I’m always torn when he sleeps late on a weekday, because I know he should get to the office but I also feel selfish; I want to keep him beside me all day. He’s hot and I’m cold; we’re the perfect match.

Next year our family will have two weddings. My partner’s baby sister and one of his closest cousins are BOTH planning weddings.IMG_4383 We were discussing our travel plans last night. It looks like we’ll have a trip to China in March 2018 and then another trip to Edmonton in June 2018. None of us have ever been to China so the idea of going there is certainly exciting. I found return tickets that are just over $900 Canadian, so it looks like the flights could be feasible for us.

There has been a lot of talk about marriage, because in my partner’s culture, it seems to be what is expected at a certain age and stage. I actually kind of like it when people ask us when we are getting married because I already treat my man as my King, my everything. He makes me into a better person and encourages me with everything I do. At this time of year, I’m particularly thankful for his support of my gardening pursuits, even though I know he’s really not all that interested in flowers or growing things.

That’s what good partners do for each other–support one another in their hobbies and dreams. I’m so glad I found my match.

“He’s my sunshine in the morning
He’s my fireworks at the end of the day
He’s the warmest chord I ever heard
Play that warm chord, play and stay baby
We don’t need no piece of paper from the city hall
Keeping us tied and true, my old man
Keeping away my blues.”

~Joni Mitchell, My Old Man

 

Gardening progress for June 2017

My garden is getting on quite well. I love seeing the changes. Here is what is planted and recurring in my small, urban garden:

Food:

  • Basil
  • Carrots
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Lettuce mix
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Peppers: Sweet ones and Jalapeno peppers
  • Spinach
  • Squash: Not sure what kind but I’m hoping for butter squash or zuchinni!
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes: Several varieties including yellow tomatoes, pineapple tomatoes, and regular heirloom tomatoes
  • Watermelon (it’s really on the edge of death right now)
  • Yellow beans

Flowers:

  • Geraniums
  • Marigolds
  • Pansies
  • Petunias
  • Sweet peas
  • Wildflower seed mix

I’m being diligent about watering my seedlings regularly and have even used some fertilizer in the form of sheep and cow manure as well as some tomato fertilizer that you mix with water. My seedlings didn’t do very well so I went and bought some. They are rather pricey and I’m sad that the Swiss chard and watermelon is struggling to stay alive! Ouch!

If you are growing a vegetable garden, don’t forget to ensure you add some flowers into the mix. The flowers are helpful in attracting bees, which your vegetables will need. Some of my favourite flowers are geraniums and marigolds, not so much for their looks, but mainly because they seem pretty hardy.

My garden is mostly just a hobby, but I’m pretty sure it’s my favourite one. I don’t produce TONS of food, but enough to make it satisfying. The best part of the food, however, is knowing that you’re eating something from your own backyard that hasn’t been sprayed or shipped thousands of miles.

Who has time for a job?

I’m quickly approaching my one-month mark of being unemployed. How does it feel, you ask? Let me tell you, it feels GREAT!

I’ve had more time to do all sorts of things, most notably, sleep in late if I feel like it.

I’m doing yoga nearly every day and also almost always have time to cook something healthy, from scratch. One of my favourite things to do is to find a new recipe that can make it’s way into regular rotation at our place if it’s somewhat healthy, delicious, and easy to make.

Sticky, garlicky chicken sounds like one of those recipes, doesn’t it? I’ve tried this recipe twice now in one month, served it at two different family meals, and people were loving them. If you’d like to try making them, the recipe is here.

Honey garlic chicken

My weekends are lovely when I get to just relax and spend time with the two guys I love the most. We have been binge-watching The Office on Netflix and enjoying campfires in our backyard.

Besides my being unemployed, our family usually is pretty busy with a variety of scheduled activities: right now this includes evening classes, flag football games and practices, tackle football uniform fittings and practices, and volunteer work.

Yesterday we joined in the 30th annual Pride parade here in Winnipeg. It’s so amazing to see so many happy people celebrating diversity in the streets. Way to go Winnipeg!

With all of this going on, I’ve asked myself and my partner several times over the last month: “Who has time to work full time?”