Stumbling toward simplicity

August 7th, 2010

Decluttering/space clearing is a journey of discovery.

As I make my weekly pilgrimage to the storage unit, I bring back boxes of things that I had formerly thought of as essential to my happiness. Sorting through them, I realize that: I’ve been without them for over a year, I’ve been happy anyway, and they’re (mostly) going right back to storage at the end of October. So, just how essential are they?

Unpacking and sorting them, I uncover not just possessions, but old patterns and attitudes. Some are easy to discard; I’ve moved on. Others, I see as areas that need more examination. Just why am I keeping these things? What do they mean to me?  Are they truly essential? Is there another way to reframe this? Is there a way to gently release them? Or do I need to wait?

One of the challenges is that my life is in flux. How do I know that I won’t need X in my future? So another question is: if I do decide I need it, how difficult is it to replace?

I’m trying to keep William Morris’s advice in mind: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Here are some books I’ve found to be useful on this journey.

Do you have any tips, books or websites to recommend?

TGIF #32 – The Toronto Edition

August 6th, 2010

So, Canada is a little different, eh? For instance, the Center St Deli is spelled Centre Street Deli. I would never have found it in the phone book. And of course, there are “What is your favourite colour?” sorts of things going on.

Here are a few signs that totally cracked me up, which Toronto natives didn’t quite get. I also heard rumo(u)rs of a bath fixture store called “Canaroma” (after their Canadian/Rome heritage.)

From a washroom (restroom) in a public park. There is a foot in the wash basin (sink). Evident meaning- do not wash your feet in the sink!

No feet in sink!

No feet in sink!

A bookstore in Senor’s n’hood. He didn’t understand why I was laughing hysterically. Only in Canada… In the US it would be the super-extra-fantastic ultimate bookstore. In Canada, it’s “pleasant.” And that works for them.

Pleasant bookstore

Pleasant bookstore

I don’t know about these crazy Canadians. Do they really sleep on bricks?

Brick mattress store

Brick mattress store

No dents in your car? Just park right here…

Collisions while you wait...

Collisions while you wait...

And here is some of what I was eating on my trip. O, Canada!

While I was gone…

August 5th, 2010
My little garden

My little garden

Aren’t plants magical? I was off vagabonding, and my faithful little plants just kept right on growing… When I left for Toronto, they were just little guys, and I came back to a thriving garden. There are 2 tomatoes (Stupice and sweet millions, 3 basil plants & a zucchini.) Big thanks to my landlords, who kept them all watered for me. What a wonderful welcome home!

Apologies to all (including my dad- who emailed to make sure I was still alive!) for the blog-lapse. I’m back in PT now, after a 3 week trip to Toronto & New England with my Señor. For privacy’s sake, I’ll just refer to him as Señor on the blog. I’ve been struggling a bit with how to keep blogging w/out turning it into a TMI (too much info) sort of thing, so I think that’s a good compromise. (And no, he’s Canadian, not Mexican, although we met in Mexico.)

I’d never been to Toronto, or spent more than a few days in New England, so it was a terrific trip into unknown (for me) territory. In between laundry loads, I’ll try to upload some pix.

Mostly, we were exploring Toronto, Señor’s hometown, which is a fabulous city. From the air, all that’s visible is green, a few skyscrapers and Lake Ontario. There are so many distinct neighborhoods… we hit as many as we could, but there are still more.

One of the highlights was getting to see my sister & her family who live in NH. I’d never been to their home before (we’ve met up in other places) and I was just totally awed by their surroundings. We took a tram up to the top of Cannon Mountain and hiked around a bit- we could see nearly forever. And that’s practically in their backyard. I can see why they love it so much!

I could go on & on about all we saw (and probably will, in later posts.) But I think what I’ll remember most are the people that I met and the food!  Señor (and his whole extended family) are serious foodies. So I was eating some of the best food in the Northeast. (and eating, and eating. I’m not going near a scale for a while!) My favorite? Probably the poutine, in all its various incarnations. I even had Italian poutine (french fries, slathered in marinara sauce. Mmmm..) I never did try the sweet potato poutine, although I’m sure I will in the future. In fact, I think poutine deserves its own post…

At any rate, that’s it for now. It’s good to be back, and I should be around until the end of Oct, except for a few short trips. Hasta luego!

Day Trip to Sequim

June 27th, 2010

Milk is political? You're kidding, right?

Saturday, I headed over to Sequim (pronounce Skwim) with a friend, who’d never been. There’s a lot to do over there, but we hit what were (for us) the high points. Sequim’s claim to fame is that it’s in the rain shadow of the Olympics, so although it’s in the PNW, they get so little rain that they have to irrigate (and proclaim it with an annual Irrigation Festival.) They also grow a LOT of lavender (and have a Lavender Festival, as well.)

On the way into town, we stopped off for a lavender mocha (well, I guess that’s not my drink of choice, but it was worth a try) & then stopped at Sunshine Herb & Lavender Farm, which is always terrific. The fields are just coming into bloom now, and the nursery is full of different lavenders and other herbs. Their gift store is amazing, and they make everything themselves.

Then on to the Co-op, which is always fun, even though I’m not really a farm girl. But they do have cute Farm Girl brand jeans & Bogs. And lots of good lawn furniture. Then down the street is Over the Fence, which is always fun. Lots of home-type things, and candles. By this time, I had tried about every tester known to mankind, and my hands were soft and… let’s say “fragrant.”

We had lunch at the Oak Table Cafe, just off the main drag to prepare for a hike on Dungeness Spit. Good homestyle cooking, and a lot of it.

Then off to the Spit, but we made two stops on the way. One was to the Dungeness Valley Creamery, which provides the Puget Sound area with raw milk. I hadn’t had raw milk before coming to PT, and was amazed at the difference. Raw milk is illegal in some states, and even in WA, where it’s legal, they come under all sorts of attacks. (Read their testimonials page to see what I mean.) This operation was spotless, and filled with people going about their work with smiles on their faces. The cows out in the field looked contented & well-cared for, which is quite a change from “normal” dairy operations that I’ve passed, holding my nose & despairing for the animals that have to live that way.

Another quick stop at Nash’s Organic Farm stand. It was amazing all the vegetables and fruit they can provide this early in the season. I’ve seen a lot of hoop houses, so that’s probably the secret. The store is very well-organized, and displays the work of local artisans, as well.

Finally, on to Dungeness Spit. The tide was coming in, which pushed us up onto the rocky parts. We may have walked a mile, but it was a rough mile. The weather was gorgeous, though, and mountains, ocean and big driftwood is a wonderful combination. Renewed my intention to camp overnight there sometime.

More pix here. And recipe for Lavender Lemonade