Monday, November 5, 2012

Hunting Season Again

I know it's hunting season because bottles of wine are starting to arrive at our front door. That, and I have to go walking with a fluorescent orange jacket, so that the hunters have to aim to hit me.

I'm not a hunter; neither is the Farmer. However, we have several hundred acres of woods giving lots of hiding space to crop-eating deer. There are no natural predators. The deer eat a LOT of corn.

Coming from the city, I was in the "Don't Shoot Bambi" camp. Barbaric, old-fashioned... whatever. I just saw a facebook post in response to a hunter who enjoys it. "Barbaric" was the response. I wondered, almost publicly, if she eats meat. And how she gets it. Wrapped in plastic on a styrofoam plate?

Moving to the Gravel Road, I've had to think about hunting, if for no other reason than it's a common practice and hunters ask permission to hunt on our land. We say yes. Here's why. For the Record.

  1. The hunters ask permission.
  2. They say thank you afterwards. They truly appreciate the privilege. They used to offer us some of the meat, but I'm vegetarian and The Farmer doesn't like venison. They bring wine now, instead!
  3. They take out what they take in and look out for the property.
  4. They follow the rules: wear orange, get the tags, share the space.
  5. The equipment is not hi-tech. Let me rephrase. They don't use high-power rifles. They use bows and black powder guns. These pieces ARE high tech, but they can't simply aim and fire. And that's intentional. Hunters do have to work for their prey.
  6. They use all of the animal.
  7. Unlike meat eaters in the city, who buy meat that someone else has killed, butchered and packaged, the hunters have caught their own meat. It's free range, organic and, frankly, natural.
  8. The hunters help keep the deer population in check.

I'm still not a fan of hunting and will never hunt unless I have to in order to eat; however, the hunters are welcome here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Customizing Your Outdoor Office

My large covered porch has a winter west wind protective wall. The Farmer put it up to keep the drifts and mounds of snow off. The drifts and mounds of snow never materialised, but my Cubby Corner, as I call it, is a bit of a greenhouse and I've been sitting outside for about a month and I've positioned a patio table so that I can hook up to hydro, have a view out to the yard and work with the sounds of nature surrounding me.

And I'm protected from the drifts and mounds of sand and dirt that inevitably blow around. Rain is kept at bay. I'm not bothered by the sounds of the house—the fan, the fridge, the corn stove— and I know my brain is in good shape because of the cacophony of birds that live around us. I have fresh air that's always in movement.

My Cubby Corner also lets me easily get out for a walk when I need it. (read more about that here, on my creativity and full-life living blog)

How to make it work:

  1. Grab the table you never put away last fall. Give it a good clean (pretty much each day: there's still dirt, no matter what) and put a tablecloth on it. It'll give you a little space to spread out.
  2. Roll out your good desk chair. Yeah, go ahead. It makes a difference.
  3. Make use of a basket or two. I have one for pens, pencils, post-its, erasers, paper clips, a cordless phone, scissors and the little notebook that holds all my passwords, because darned if I can remember them all. The other contains the files of work. Or the pile of paper you've been moving from one corner of your desk to the other.
  4. An extension cord and hydro outlet for your electronics.
  5. I've got a clock. I could use the one on the laptop, but... what do you do when you've closed it down? It lets me know in no uncertain times that I've spent way too much time trying to make a 40 point word with three consonants in Scrabble.
  6. A blanket is nice for those coolish mornings, although I wait at least until it's 5 degrees before setting up.
  7. It's a perfect place for a pot of tea. If you keep a separate little chair (mine's a purple beach chair) you can do your serious reading and cat cuddling there. Within a few weeks I will also be sleeping on the porch, so an afternoon nap is just steps away.
  8. At the end of the day... grab your baskets, yank the chair back up over the door ledge.
  9. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bowling for a Husband

On this day, in 1994, I met my husband. Bowling. At a singles club.

I'd seen an ad for The Single Gourmet in the paper. A singles club? Ugh! Knowing that thinking about it would stop me, I shut that part of my brain off and called.  I paid $60 for the first three months' trial membership and $19.95 for the bowling evening. I didn't have a car, so the club owner picked me up.

Rick looked like a tweedy history professor. Long hair, jeans, tweed jacket, cotton shirt, beard, glasses. He was on my bowling team. He and one of the other guys spent much of the evening showing off. I wasn't impressed. After bowling they were all heading off to a singles bar. Really? I shut my brain off. "Just go," I told myself. I knew I had to get a ride quick. He was the first person I saw.

His Bonneville had all kinds of bells and lights and whistles. Still not impressed. The bar was a few miles away, to the west. He turned east out of the parking lot towards the outskirts of the city.... I kept an eye on the doors and mentally figured out the best way out of the car should a problem arise. We got talking about cycling and things turned out, well, fine.

When I asked him to marry me, four and a half weeks later, he said, "Sure. Why not?"

I started moving boxes in at the end of March.

Between then and July of 1995 life went a little like this:

I was teaching full-time in the city and at the end of June, I was heading into a full year's leave. I had already booked my summer holidays in British Columbia and had rented a friend's house on Cortes Island for two months starting in September. Plus, there was Music Camp in August. Neither of us suggested that I give this up.

The Farmer (Farmer Rick)... well, he had to plant in the spring and harvest in the fall. Neither of us suggest he give that up either.

Between the end of June and the beginning of November, I was on the Gravel Road for about three weeks. My boxes remained strewn about the house; however, as the house was in such a state of elegant unfinishedness there wasn't anywhere to put much.

We took our honeymoon in February in Jamaica. (no, you haven't missed anything: we did the honeymoon first when flights were cheap)

Through the winter, Farmer Rick became Builder Rick and he toiled away on the house. We had no kitchen to speak of. All the pots, pans and dishes languished on my old steel storage shelves in the vestibule.  We ate every conceivably remotely healthy microwaveable dinner. I remember the excitement the day my 500 sq ft studio/office was officially ready! The renos? A whole other story.
Spring came, I planted a garden and Farmer Rick planted the farm and kept on with the house.
The wedding was set for July 22. The water in the kitchen taps came on on July 19.

We went all out for the wedding, which wasn't a 'real' wedding. We're not 'really' married. We wanted to have great food and great photography. We ditched all the pricey doodads and party favours, the showers and a host of other traditional stuff, because we thought they were a colossal waste.

Farmer Rick wore shorts and a brand new short sleeved white shirt from Mark's. I re-dyed my favourite white sandals, had my hair up and a summer dress, sewn by a friend. Guests brought their own lawn chair and sat in a circle on the front lawn. We were in the middle of a major heat wave, but we'd planned things so the sun would be behind some tall trees.

We had pastas and salads catered, guests boiled their own corn on the cob in a black pot over a fire, and a couple of friends offered to barbeque the chicken.  I knew the Chocolate Mousse wedding cake with butter cream icing and raspberries  (thanks Canadian Living) would be excellent because Doreen and I had baked a trial cake a few weeks earlier. Dad went out that morning to collect the fresh raspberries.

Friends tell us it was the most unique wedding they'd been to.

Eighteen years later, this is still pretty much how we roll. Things are pretty casual and easy going. A little atypical in many ways.

The renos on the house continue. We haven't been bowling.