Standing at the Crossroads…

My cousin, a journalist in Toronto shared this last evening.  It is such an interesting film I thought I would also share it with you.  It is not directly connected to Tiny Houses, Food, Art, Music, Nature, Animal Rights, Consumerism or any of the other topics that are important to me.  Yet this film has everything to do with all of these topics.

It is a full length documentary of one hour and once it starts you will want to watch the entire thing, so give yourself the time to sit down and think about it.

The paradoxes within this film are so huge but never directly mentioned… Do you see them as well?

This is a tree back at the foot of the escarpment.  I must have walked right past it a hundred times and never noticed it.  Even though life is slow paced sometimes I don't see the trees, for the forest.  I share this today because I found this film to be the same sort of paradox.

This is a tree back at the foot of the escarpment. I must have walked right past it a hundred times and never noticed it. Even though life is slow paced sometimes I don’t see the trees, for the forest. I share this today because I found this film to be the same sort of paradox.


Categories: Art, Environmentalism, Family, Food, Materialism, Money, Nature, Open your eyes, Simple living, Sustainable living, Tiny House Ontario, View, World | 2 Comments

People in Need

I have just heard that The Dutch charity organization Mensen in Nood (People in Need) has started a very provocative campaign.  The Swedish fashion photographer Carl Stolz has taken photos of people in need.  They are posing with the typical stuff that the consumer culture we live in, has taught us to believe we need.

I think that it is smart and appropriate and hopefully effective.  It is certainly in line with my own beliefs about greed.  Hats off to this charity for pointing out disparity.  Hopefully it shows us that we can really do without and that we do have a little something to share with those who quite literally have nothing.

Categories: Food, Materialism, Money, Simple living, Sustainable living, World | 1 Comment

Through The Thicket

The first time I went to look at the land was before I purchased it.  It was a cold fall day, and was pissing rain.  Not to be dissuaded, I went through the brush and found that about half way in there was a wall of thicket, of what the locals call prickly pear. The great barrier of it went on as far as I could see to the left and right of me; I wanted to get through to see what was on the other side.   Tenaciously, I pulled my coat sleeves over my hands, and began to push my way in through the canes and their sharp little thorns.

They tied themselves to me, through my clothes and into my skin.  I was the soft side of velcro and still I pushed my way though.  What was about 200 foot wide band of the stuff felt more like a mile.  My cousin Ernie says that this Great Wall has been there forever, that he would hunt rabbits there as a kid, and with great success.  Truthfully, there are still grouse, partridge and rabbits by the plenty in these thickets; since then, I have cleared a small path through, so that I can walk back to the ridge without the pain of being caught in bramble.

When I finally arrived to the other side, I was thrilled that I persevered.  It was just as I thought.  The woods opened up and I found it just the way I expected to.  The back 7 acres is all Carolinian forest, hardwood trees as high as the ridge itself.  It opens up and is as beautiful as can be back there.

I can’t help but reflect on that adventure and how it strangely mirrors life.  It is not just in nature that you have to push through a lot of difficulty, sometimes getting poked by the ugliness of life until you bleed.  The fact is that a lot of life is similar to being caught in a giant rose bush, you just have to escape it to get to the great stuff.  Generally, I think that those who go through the biggest prickly patches, are very often the people who have the most to offer; they are the hardest workers the ones who know how to live.

I bought the land, and then not long after I built Tiny House Ontario.  I located it right before the thicket at the place where I stood wondering if I could get through a few months before.  I did this not just because I want to preserve the sanctity of that wonderful deep woods, but because I wanted to face the obstacle in that land.   There are great rewards in this location, mostly the constant movement of animals around me, who I hear much more often than I see.  I am surrounded by life, by those who are amazingly well sustained by the difficult landscape.

On my most recent winter visit, I was out walking with Liisa.  We were nearly at Tiny House Ontario, perhaps 50 feet away.  She noticed this, not me and stopped to take this image.  It captures the density of the prickly pear.  You know, when the leaves come in and you stand right here in my little woman made clearing, you cannot see the Tiny House at all.

Mostly though, I chose this spot, because all year around the prickly pear stands, and reminds me that I can get through the rough patches.  I know that I can survive even the deepest injury and I can live with the scars too.  Survival is often tough but the great openings at the end of the rough patches, make the trip worth while.

Categories: Nature, Off Grid, Ontario, Open your eyes, Simple living, Tiny house, Tiny House Ontario, Winter, World | 2 Comments

Crystal Clear

I noticed this while walking along the ridge at Tiny House Ontario, with Liisa.  She takes better photos than I do and has a better camera so I am thankful again, that she was there.

It looks like a sci-fi creature, or something magical.  Perhaps a winter hiding spot for teeny-tiny angels who need cellular reception?

This is just one a crystal clear example of the billions of wonderful things that can be seen just by taking the time to look.  In the quiet undisturbed forest there are so many wonders.  This year, I have come to understand the true meaning of not seeing the forest for the trees.  It seems an overload to look beyond the beauty of these isolated bits.

Categories: Art, Environmentalism, Off Grid, Ontario, Time, Tiny House Ontario, Winter, World | Leave a comment

The best things in life and the boring details

The best things in life aren’t things; even so, there are some things that you need.  Largely, I really want to believe that stuff is not that important.  But then I think of those who live on, and with nothing; I submit that existing without stuff would be quite impossible.

In Tiny House Ontario, like in each Tiny House, the stuff that I keep must be absolutely considered.  A detailed deliberation must be given to every bit and bob, even if it is as small as a barrette or a box of nails. Food, too, must be closely observed.  I like to grow or buy fresh and since there are farm gatepost stores in the area and a some wonderful general stores too, I don’t have to worry too much about storing it, at least for the time being; I am there living only during the growing season but eventually, food storage will be an important issue and by then I believe that a fruit cellar will be an absolute necessity.

Despite the size, there are five storage areas in Tiny House Ontario.  On the main level, there is the kitchen and the shelves at the West side.  In the loft there is the closet, the dresser and, opportunistically, I bought roll under the bed storage when it was on sale, but I have not put this to use.

The necessities:

Tools for building and outdoor work.  Cooking, serving, eating and food (I keep a few gross but easy dry things there all the time, like Mr. Noodles and dehydrated soup, as well as beans, flour, salt and sugar should someone need to survive there for a few days), my grandma’s kettle and dish soap. Water for drinking, cooking, washing as well as survival books and extra eyeglasses so that I can read them.

A reasonably well stocked first aid kit and toiletries, a wash pan, and a couple of buckets, face clothes, towels and  throw blankets, garbage and recycle bins, clothing, bedding, candles, matches and lighter

A cell phone, bee’s wax candles, lights, batteries, propane, BBQ, camp stove and a heater if you do not have a heat source built in are also required, as well as a cooler or refrigeration source.

Stuff that I love and believe I require:

Literature including the complete works of Douglas Coupland , poet Sean Moreland, and some family history books.  Cards, a few games and puzzles, candy (for the children who come), and chocolate (for me).  I also must have art and art supplies, as well as a solid collection of old Harrowsmith magazines which tell me how to do a lot of homesteading stuff so they may well be required as much as I like them because I use them for reference materials.

I also find it important to have some spiritually, emotionally significant and things that comfort me.  This collection includes: a justice and safety spell, sweet grass, white sage, and burning shell.  A green crystal, the family bible, angel cards, carved boxes, a friendship ball, an Irish shamrock, the ashes of my late dogs, a hat and a salt and pepper poodle shaker set.

I would guess that the stuff I love makes up about 1/10 of the total mass of stuff in Tiny House Ontario, I suppose I could live without it, but I choose not to and I am grateful that I don’t have to make the choice of what to leave behind me, as many unfortunate people have had to do all over the world.  It would be interesting to know how this breaks down in the average home.  When you look around your home now, I wonder what do you need in there?   What do you have just so that your home looks nice when visitors come?

Categories: Art, Douglas Coupland, Materialism, Sean Moreland, Sustainable living, Tiny house, World | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments