Wednesday, 29 January 2014

2013 Year End Review

Well, better late than never, here are my memories and lessons learned from last year.

 As always, living on the water brings it's own kind of challenges and last year wasn't any different.

In the spring, the water rose over thirty feet and came close to cresting over our ramp. I was concerned that we would get cut off from the house and that other things getting washed downstream might smash into us and cause untold damage.

 It was weeks of tension as we waited out the worst of the freshet. It didn't help that we had one of the hottest, driest summers on record. It started with a heat wave at the beginning of May which just kind of morphed into a hot summer.

Luckily we survived that with nothing lost except some sleep and our water supply. (We get our water from the neighbors well and the drop in height from the river bank to our house is the gravity feed that delivers the water. With the river almost cresting the bank, we lost our gravity feed and our water flow.)

I had just planted a new garden around our shipping container/storage shed on the first day of the heat wave, not realizing what was coming. Without running water at the house, I decided to grab buckets of river water. That was easy at the beginning with the flooded river being so close to the shed, but once it subsided a bit it was too shallow and muddy to be useful.

 My poor garden didn't get watered more than a handful of times all summer and fall and yet seemed to thrive for the most part. A few plants shriveled in the heat but most made out ok. They weren't as big and lush as they could have been with water and fertilizer but they survived and put on a nice show of flowers. Except for the sunflowers, all the other plants were perennials that I am hoping will continue to spread and fill out over the years.

The decks around the float home got lots of baskets of annuals for colour and I was quite happy with the display I got. In the fall I added several hundred spring bulbs to the perennial garden and some of the house baskets and planters. I am looking forward to seeing them come up in the new year.

We didn't have electricity yet, but with the warmth and longer daylight hours we were finally able to get some Reno's done on the house. We tackled the spare bedroom downstairs and got the walls covered in bead board paneling and some trim. A Murphy bed was installed and some artwork hung on the walls.

The next room was the bathroom. David put wood flooring on the ceiling and the walls were also covered in bead board and trim. The chandelier got hung, the room for the sauna got built and doors were hung to finally make it an enclosed room.

I got really frustrated with the job I did on the trim in the spare bedroom so I  haven't had the nerve to try and finish the trim job in the bathroom. I will get to it someday, I promise. I am still looking for some nice stain glass artwork to put in the opening at the head of the bathtub. There is some electrical tweaking to do and eventually some painting, but overall the room is quite lovely and totally serviceable which is absolutely grand. I am in heaven to be able to shower in my own home again!

We didn't end up taking any summer holidays as I had spent that money on material for the house but luckily every weekend was nice, so we just enjoyed sitting out on the deck watching spectacular sunsets while David honed his fishing skills and finally started landing some good size fish.

David's bother, Billy, came out from Ontario for a few days in August and got the whirl-wind tour of the lower mainland and Whistler. The house was a long way from being finished but I think he was impressed with what we had done so far. He couldn't believe we didn't have any way to keep beer cold though, so he put his engineering skills to work and got our propane fridge hooked up...whoo hoo, coldness at last, what a treat that was!

We finally got the power turned on at the end of September. It had been two and a half years of living without and it was kind of a bittersweet moment for me. I had learned a lot while living without power, and in some ways preferred the simplicity of an unplugged life, but in the end, the chance to finally have a warm house in the winter was the winning factor. The first few days were quite comical as we slowly adapted to a world with power again. Like wide eyed cavemen,we stumbled back into the 21st century.

Now that we could heat the place, I wanted to start using more of the house. We had basically been living in the bedrooms with short forays into the kitchen and bathroom. Now I wanted to hang out in the living room and utilize the downstairs space some more.

 The first order was to create some order. We had been using the living room/dining room as a catchall for all of our construction material, furniture and boxes of household goods all crammed together in a massive pile. A bunch of it got carted upstairs or to the garden shed, the rest got rearranged into something that looked like actual rooms. We still hadn't put up any paneling, the ceiling or the flooring, so it looked rough but the dining room was set up to eat in and living room had furniture centered around a TV.

David got to work hooking up a bunch of the electrical fixtures so we could have light and run appliances. Once we had the power turned on, we discovered that all our main appliances had not faired well since last used. I tried replacing them with Craigslist finds, but kept getting burnt with other peoples crap. I finally broke down and went to Future Shop where I splurged and bought a brand new Fridge, Washer, Dryer and a big TV for the living room. Our gas stove died the week after that but David lucked out and found an even better one on Craigslist with 5 burners for only 50 dollars. It finally feels like we are getting our ducks in a row!

We had our first real sit down dinner in this house on Thanksgiving. We had a lot to be grateful for this year and are quite happy with our progress to date.

We stumbled onto a chance to take a helicopter flight over out house and were excited to see our place and the surrounding area from the air. Coolest Thanksgiving ever!

November and December are my busiest months at work, so they went by in one big blur. David was busy working with a neighbor, helping him try to put together some deals to purchase mills. I really hope one of them works out and he gets paid for all his time.

Just before Christmas, Mother Nature made herself known again in the form of  a huge storm on the river which bounced us around quite badly and a subsequent freeze that terrified us. Of all the shit we have been through on the river in the last eight years, those few days almost did us in. We were totally ready to quit and walk away from this lifestyle. It just didn't seem worth risking our lives over.
We have since had some time to think it over and realize how lucky we are to have what we have. We went away for a quick holiday to Cuba at the beginning of January and came back with a renewed sense of purpose and a will to finish this house off.

My lifestyle has been getting greener over the years especially since moving onto the water which has made me much more aware of the environment. I made a huge effort this year to get really green around the house and went through each room looking for safer products to use, getting rid of as much plastic as possible and looking for ways to cut down our garbage production. I have been making my own soap and body care products and stopped slathering my body in chemicals. I feel so much better about the choices we have made both spiritually and physically.

A lot of my Fibromyalgia symptoms seem to be doing much better lately. My pain is half of what is used to be, my eczema has completely healed, and my asthma is doing much better. I haven't taken any meds for it in almost a year now and my numbers just keep getting better which is such a relief. I really didn't feel comfortable taking steroids daily and the breathless attacks I used to have were very scary for me.

However one new symptom did come up and that was constant nausea since October. I only just recently started to have some relief from it when I started taking a strong probiotic. The only good that came of that is I lost 25 pounds which was a welcome outcome. I am battling a wicked cold right now ( my first one in 5 years), but once it clears a bit, then I want to start an exercise regime and see if I can continue that trend.

As seems to be the case as I get older, I had to say a few more goodbyes to loved ones this year.

 My Fathers step-brother Peter passed away this fall and I went back to Vancouver Island to pay my respects.

 It was a brief trip but I got to reconnect with a great deal of family and friends that I hadn't seen in years. We have finally agreed to have a family reunion next summer. I can't wait to see everyone again. I am planning to spend a few weeks over there enjoying some camping and nature.  Peter and his family were a big part of who I am today. My love for the great outdoors, camping and being on the water are a direct result of hanging out with him when I was 14. I look forward to recreating that next summer!

Sadly the lovely lady that lives in the house on our property passed away at the beginning of this year after a short illness. Her husband is moving out next month and we are so sad to see them go. They were awesome neighbors who went way out of their way to make us part of their family and helped us settle in here. We will miss them tons.

We almost lost our black cat Smoochie, back in the spring when he got his stomach ripped wide open by some animal. Amazingly, the vet was able to stitch him back together and after a three week, 24 hour a day vigil to make sure he didn't rip them out, he was back to his old self. I thank the universe  for each new day we have with him. Unfortunately our other cats brother, who lived with the couple upstairs, wasn't so lucky. I still miss him and look for him when I go up to the car, he was a lovable character and I was so happy as I thought my cat was going to get to grow up playing with his sibling.

And finally, the end of an era, my old farmhouse that I used to live in, is finally getting torn down in a few days. We are going tomorrow to see what we can salvage out of it before it is gone for good. I am heartbroken that, that beautiful fertile land is going to be turned into another Walmart. Boo! Hiss!

I am looking forward to 2014, I feel like it will be a positive year overall. We should have the majority of the house finished by next summer, a nice camping holiday and reunion to experience, and hopefully one of David's deals pays off and maybe I can consider retiring and becoming a housewife for a while. I am looking forward to a year where I can finally kick back a bit and focus on things that bring me joy, like doing artwork and making music.

 I have just signed up for a course to learn how to facilitate women's gatherings which I would love to do once the house is finished. I am contemplating taking some painting classes as well. I wrote a list of 52 things I wanted to work on last year and realize I didn't really do many of them, so am putting them here again to remind myself of some things I want to work on. One more thing I am adding to this list is to save some money each week in a vacation account so I can go away somewhere warm again next year on my birthday!

 I turned 55 this year and it feels like a pivotal shift is coming. I just hope this one is a gentle one, not like puberty or menopause, I am ready for a sweet crone hood, filled with learning and sharing.

Reminders of the person I want to be:

1.Lose at least one pound a week
2.Seek spiritual guidance every day
3.Be grateful every day
3.Exercise every day ( before going online)
4.Take a daily picture of something that catches my eye
5.Perform random acts of kindness
6.Limit sugar
7.Aim for raw food when possible
8.Fast food doesn't exist, make another choice
9.Mindful Eating
10.Clean and sort one closet or drawer every week
11.Start saving 10 percent of all income
12.Attend at least one yoga class a week
13.Read a book before bed ( turn off the computer)
14.Play a game once a week
15.Have a "do not spend money" day once a week
16. Un-clutter a room
17.Record receipts once a week and file
18.Clear my inbox
20.Learn a new skill
22.Learn a new language
23.Study a new plant in my neighborhood
24.Work on making a smaller garbadge pile each week
25.Play an instrument
26.Be creative
27. Write
28.For every new thing I bring home, two things must go out
29.Learn the words to a song
30.Visit a friend
31.Feed the wildlife
32.Take a bit of all food I intend to eat and make an offering to the spirits to say thanks
33.Try a new food
34.Try a new restaurant
35.Pick up litter
36.Sign a petition
37.Take a course
39.Take a bath, make it as healing as possible
40.Breathe mindfully
42.Get out of town, do something different
43.Walk in a forest
44.Sit by a fire
45.Moon bathe
46.Skinny dip
47.Star gaze
48.Remember and honour someone who is gone
49.Decorate a place in nature
50.Repair something that is broken
51.Plant a perrenial
52.Perform rituals and ceremonies to ground yourself and mark your passages

                   Happy Chinese New Year! May the horse bring you to greener pastures!

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  1. As always, I'm in aah of your lifestyle, wishing it could be mine, but knowing I wouldn't survive.

  2. I just realized how long it has been since I've visited your blog. It was interesting to get caught up, and your list includes lots of good things to do in the coming year. We are spending lots more time up at the cabin. My Mom has been gone almost a year now. It's hard to believe how fast the time has gone by. We have used this last year to travel more as well. We've been to Hawaii and Arizona this winter for short stays with warm sun. But my float cabin is where I want to be most of the time. I can understand how scary the freshet was last year. I hope this spring/early summer goes better for you in that regard. - Margy


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave me a comment, Rhianna

The Eclectic Ark