Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

Rubber boots and Mittens

I went for a hike today,

A dead hike mom would say.

“Everything is brown,

The colours all down

Not a time for hiking

And too late for biking

You should have done this a month ago.”

As you can guess,

I left mom for a rest,

And to my surprise,

The place was alive.

First I was spooked,

By a nesting goose,

As I followed a path

That circles her bath

Then further I crept

And a whitetaileddeer lept,

From her exposed graze

To a pine tree maze

I next took the track

To the maple syrup shack

Followed “frostbite ridge” trail

To a flock of wild quail

and stood still to listen

to the morning dew glisten.

I stooped low to investigate

What a bear or fox ate

And took a wrong path

When did that maple collapse?

It began to snow

The wet stuff, you know.

When I found the track back,

I was met by the cat

He hopped on 3 feet

To the house where we sleep

So we completed the loop

Lured by scents of soup

To find Mom in the snow

Waiting with hot cocoa.

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My First Canning Project – Ketchup!

Like many first-year gardeners, I have way too many tomatoes.  And not only that, but I even bought some more tomatoes from my friend John! Ridiculous, I know.  I must have had about 50-75lbs of tomatoes in the kitchen sorted into baskets and buckets and bowls according to their level of ripeness.  After 3 rounds of pasta sauce, 2 rounds of raw pasta sauce and many tomato sandwiches, I decided to tackle a real tomato project – KETCHUP!  I rarely eat the stuff, but when I roast potatoes or we have scrambled eggs, that sugar and sodium laced condiment just screams to land on my plate.  So now, I am happy to say that I have an all natural, mostly organic (save for the red wine vinegar, pepper and ginger) ketchup.  Thanks to Fig and Lime Cordial for the recipe! It was the best and easiest one I could find on the internet.  I love the roasted tomato flavour.

http://figjamandlimecordial.com/2010/11/03/roasted-omato-ketchup/

I made a few changes because I made A LOT more than this recipe.  To be exact, I made 5x the recipe.  Rather than weighing the tomatoes at the start, I just used as many as I could stand to work through and then measured the passata based on the size of my pot when I had pushed all the roasted tomatoes through the sieve.  I substituted a combination of red wine vinegar, balsamic and apple cider vinegar for the white wine vinegar just for a little fun and I read in another recipe that this make the flavour very robust.  Fancy schmancy.  Besides that, the only difference for me is that it took probably about 3 hours to boil it down to a thickness that I was satisfied with, it probably could have gone for another hour or 2.   I actually stuck the whole pot in the fridge once it was cooled because I wasn’t ready to can it until the next day when I had the jars and another big pot to process in.  Which I think is ok because I heated it up again to a boil before canning it.

Voila! And without even asking for victims to taste test, I came home from teaching a lovely yoga class to Dylan’s expression that my ketchup is amazing!  yay!

I’m Not Supposed To Have Responsibilities….I’m a Hipsie.

We may have rooted ourselves.  It’s terrifying. 

We were debating chickens for a while but it’s pretty obvious we couldn’t commit.  We eased ourselves into it with a garden and some houseplants (just 2 houseplants).  But we still want to be mobile, we love it.  And then we even went and emptied Dylan’s storage unit and moved some more stuff into our house, as though we are going to live here for a long time.  Another year even.  It makes me want to run.  And now!  Now we’ve gone and got not one, but 2 cats!  We can’t even house-sit anymore unless we can bring it (we’re only planning on keeping one….for the mice of course), or unless we can find cat-sitters too.  This is getting ridiculous.  I feel like I should just pack up the car for practice to make sure I can still get outta here in one load.  One light in the dark tunnel towards “status quo life” is that we got a sweet FREE barbeque at the end of someone’s lane the other day!  Can’t believe they gave away a Weber that was barely used, came with all the accessories (even charcoal and mequite chips) AND it matches our cookware!

But then…..look at these faces…….I’m melting….

My First Vegetable Garden

We did…..well…I did, what every body,

book, blog, article and website tells you not to do.

We went big.  A smart, caring and busy individual would be wise to start with a 4X10 plot, no bigger.  We doubled that, probably tripled it, and I’m sure we’ll pay the price.  Luckily, we are still in the honeymoon phase of vegetable gardening, where most things are growing, nothing has been attacked, the weeds are at bay and we’re dreaming of delicious, easy and fresh vegetables in the near future.  We are not dreaming of all the weeding that will need to take place, the bug patrolling, the rabbit visits, or the heartbreak.  I’m so naive it’s 9am on a Sunday morning and I haven’t even looked at the garden this weekend yet.  It could have been totally wiped out yesterday or today, but in my happy naive bubble, that just won’t happen to us.  It happens to everyone else in the books, blogs, website, and articles, but not us.  Like car accidents, deaths in the family and natural disasters.  You never think it will happen to you and you only partially prepare for it, if at all.  Luckily, we’re just talking about peas and bean here. 

Nonetheless, we have a 20X20 row garden and a 10X4 square foot garden and they are not all for us.  They are to test out some organic growing methods for our non profit Free Spirit Gardens and the produce will be shared with Free Spirit Tours staff, family and friends.  We are also growing all heirloom, organic varieties, so I think the yield per plant is going to be significantly lower than conventional hybrid plants, thus we’ve planted 12 tomato plants rather than 4.  hah.  With a shitty kitchen, a small fridge/freezer, no pantry or root cellar, this is going to be food overload.  Perfect, it’s what I’m hoping for.  Because, in all reality, there’s a chance that it will be slim pickings.  The season is late, and I was speaking to a very well seasoned farmer at the Flesherton Farmer’s Market yesterday who consoled me by saying that this season is a hard season for even experienced growers, nevermind beginners.  So if I get more food than I can handle, my self-proclaimed vegetable growing expertise will be validated.

Call me Buddha.

This is the gong that rings more times than I can count each day during a 10 Day Vipassana Meditation course.  Note that it is called a “course” as opposed to a “retreat”.  Those 10 days of my life were no holiday.  I cried, I sweat, I suffered, I smiled, and I walked.   I did not speak, sun bathe, play or communicate with any other human being, and I only laughed on the 10th day when the vow of silence is broken.  It was tough.

It is now 7 days since I have returned from my 10 Day course and while I’d love to say I am more peaceful, more loving and more happy…..I can not tell.  I can only assume that some benefit was had and it is showing very subtly in my day to day actions and reactions.   As how real change truly happens, on a deeper level than at the surface, at the root and source of the problem.  As much as I wish that it had been a 10 Day Magic Fix for all of my problems and misery, it was not.  It was simply an introduction to a technique that, if applied to the rest of my life, can help to eradicate the miseries that we all hold so deep within the mind and body.   So I am doing my best to meditate each morning.  We are instructed to meditate one hour each morning AND each night for the full benefit and true practice of the technique.  But shhheeeesshhh…..really??  Maybe when I’m retired, ok. But when my yoga teacher also says to do your asanas (postures) and pranayama (breath work) once a day and I must also contribute to the world, cook and clean, and of course blog…. 2 hours of meditation is a lot.  Yet, for 10 days I managed to meditate for 12 hours each day….and now 2 hours is too much?  hah.  The problem is not that 2 hours is too much, it is that our silly society thinks that we should spend 8 hours out of the house each day doing some sort of monkey task for someone else so that we may own a house and cars and pretty looking things.  Silly society.  Luckily, I lead a rather non-conventional life and should be able to fit in 2 meditations a day.  However, my goal for now is one each morning from 5:30am-6:30am.  Not terrible considering we were up at 4am while on the course.   Yet, some mornings, it is terrible.

The 10 days themselves were certainly the longest 10 days I’ve ever lived…..however they are gone.  Which is one of the primary teachings from the course: That everything will pass.  The teachings are the Buddha’s teachings from 25 centuries ago, that have been slightly lost and mis-interpreted so that while the faith and devotional teachings of Buddha have been emphasized, the actual practice of true knowledge and pure happiness has been muffled.  Luckily, those good Burmese monks were the ones to preserve the pure teachings of Buddha and they’ve helped to spread them all over the world again, all the way to right here in Angus, Ontario.  hah.  It really was cool being able to experience Buddha’s teachings in a very non-sectoral/non-religious place in rural Ontario.

The days themselves were simple – meditate, meditate, stretch, eat, walk, meditate, meditate, meditate, eat, walk, meditate…..etc.  There were 7 hours of sleep in there that I relished, and an evening discourse that I think everyone looked forward to. Not only were we able to watch someone else, we could sit however we fancied and change positions as many times as we wanted. That in itself was a treat!  The discourses a video recording of lectures from Goenke G, a regular Burmese business man who came into Vipassana in his search for a migraine cure and is now spreading the practice due to it’s importance and it’s power.  He is an enlightened man and thus his lectures are full of stories, jokes- even if you are having the ugliest, more painful day of your life, he will make you smile – and repeated reminders:  “Practice diligently, diligently.  Practice patiently, patiently.  Patiently and persistently, patiently and persistently.  You are bound to be successful, bound to be successful.”

On day 1, I survived just fine.  But already in the evening discourse when Goenke G begins by saying, “The first day is over, you have 9 more days to work”…..I was like….oh man, that’s a long time.

By day 2 I was like, ok…..8 days, not too bad.

Day 3 I thought, ok, 7 more days, a week, what’s a week in your every day life Kim?  A week flies by!

Day 4 – “I can’t do it.  I can’t do 6 more days of this.  It’s going to take forever!”

Dav 5 – “It is taking forever, not 5 more days”

Day 6 – “Longest 6 days of my life, I can’t wait for Sunday”

Day 7 –  “Not 3 more days, I can’t wait until Sunday”

Day 8 – “Just make it through today Kim, one day at a time”

Day 9 – “Ok, last day of work, work hard, work diligently”

Day 10 – I experienced such euphoria when we could speak.  Even before I said a word, I felt so light, so happy, the sun came out….it was pure bliss!  I forgot entirely about wanting to go home and just soaked up every second of this day!

Day 11 – I made a b-line for my vehicle the moment they handed me my keys.  7:30am, I was outta there!  hah.

10 Days of Silence and Nothing

 

 

Yet another move is ahead of me, and this one I’m doing solo.  This move is free of trucks, boxes, tape, food, work, books and music.  Thank goodness.  It’s free of all of the stuff that clutters my life and distracts me from living life itself.  It’s free of complex thought and free of the senses.   That’s probably a dramatic enough introduction so I’ll now tell you that I am beginning a 10 day Vipassana Meditation course tomorrow at the Ontario Vipassana Centre.  Me and 49 others will spend 10 days in complete (noble) silence with the following schedule:

4:00 a.m Morning wake-up bell
4:30 a.m. – 6:30 a.m. Meditate in the hall or your own room
6:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Breakfast break
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
9:00 a.m – 11:00 a.m. Meditate in the hall or your own room
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon Lunch break
12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m. Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Meditate in the hall or your own room
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Meditate in the hall or your own room
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Tea break
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
7:00 p.m – 8:15 p.m. Teacher’s Discourse in the hall
8:15 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
9:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Question time in the hall
9:30 p.m. Retire to your own room. Lights out

 

I have chosen to complete this course because I have some internal work that needs to be done.  It involves healing, letting go, feeling safe, becoming more mindful and focussed, detachment from things that I attach my identity to, and I’m sure more that I’ll discover over the next 10 days.  However, I am also aware that I may just spend the next 10 days sitting, waiting for the next meal and secretly singing in the shower. hah.  Who knows.

Here’s some more information if you’re curious:

http://www.torana.dhamma.org/index.html

 

Our 10th Home of the Year!

One year since The Local Gypsies Spot was born, we are moving into our 10th place of residence for the year.  Similar to this time last year, we are renting a cottage for a longer-term stay which always gets me both excited and apprehensive.  It will feel nice to unpack our bags (that we otherwise just leave open on the floor and live out of)

The cat loves our out-of-the-box way of life

and in this place we even have some space to set up our own paintings, decor etc.  What makes me a little nervous is that we’re committed to live here for a year, maybe more!  The commitment gets even deeper in that we’ve built a chicken coop for a family of chickens that we are expecting on the property!  Luckily, the coop is movable (like us), however we must confess that it will never fit into our gypsy-mobile/Range Rover.

We are expecting!....Chickens and a rooster!

I have also committed to working for an organization that runs out of this house (you may know it – Free Spirit Tours) and the owner/entrepreneur/my friend has got me nicely wrapped up in several projects that will keep me busy for a few years by the sounds of it.  Could this be the end of our nomadic life?  Not likely.  I don’t think Dylan will completely settle until we’ve purchased land or a house, and even then, we will move on.  It just may not be 10 homes in one year, perhaps one home every ten years. wow. that seems just crazy.  Ten years in one place?! Are we getting old?