All posts by Selka

I'm a Canadian woman living in an off-grid tiny house on a small organic orchard farm in Nova Scotia, always aspiring to a "better"- more conscious, ecological, and organic- life. I blog to keep my family and friends up to date; to share things I've learned and discovered with difficulty so that hopefully, it will help others who internet research to proceed with less difficulty; to maintain a practice of writing; and to create an illustrated journal of the arc of my life. I try to post every second day. I write about my garden, my travels, Iceland, my chickens, dog, bees and other pets, books I read, and stuff that I build and make. My husband is passionate about bicycling and he sometimes pipes up with stories about bikes and bicycling. Sometimes I swear. You can follow on Facebook too, but all I ever do there is put up my blog posts.

I drove to Ontario with my cat.  I was going to stay a month so I had to bring her.  I also brought two passengers from the rideshare board, to mitigate the environmental impact, maybe.  I just couldn’t be a single occupant vehicle for 3000 miles.

It was just during the coldest snap of the winter, when Regina was seeing -35C.  Almost miraculously, we didn’t see one speck of precipitation the whole transit.  And the coldest weather was scuttling away in front of us, or something, because the coldest my outdoor thermometer ever read was -22C. 

My right hand drive caused a bit of a frenzy at a truck stop in Northern Ontario.  A half dozen friendly natives were swarmed around, looking at everything inside, asking questions all at once and exclaiming in amazement.  They were just thrilled.

We drove the north route as one of my passengers was headed into Quebec.  After we left him, the girl and I were sitting up front talking when we passed a big billboard proclaiming “Book Store 75% off” .  We sighed together and looked at the time.  It was just after six, there wasn’t a chance that a small town book store would still be open.  Sigh, alas.

A half hour later, she bursts out, pointing to the right, “Hey that was it!  The lights are on!  And there’s cars.”  I screeched to a halt and whipped a Uey (or the transCanada equivalent), and we went back to it.  Open!  Until eight!  Oh frabjous day!

What. A. Bookstore.  Continue reading

Olympic excess

The fastest, bottom corner of the course

Took a tour of the Sliding Centre, where luge, skeleton, and bobsleigh events happen.  This was illuminating, and not only because it was very brightly lit.  I had to wonder why flash photography was verboten when the lights are so bright, and the luge athletes aren’t looking where they’re going anyways.  They memorize the course, because looking up slows you down.

The luge course is absolutely a feat of engineering.  A km and a half long, a four story drop just into the first corner, and athletes reaching speeds around 158 km/hr and hitting 5Gs.  However, the infrastructure to do this is hyperbolic. A building the size of an arena is for refrigeration- just to cool the course and allow ice to be built.  Pipes for the ammonia coolant run from the building the length of the (km and half) concrete and steel structure of the course.  The entire course is not just brilliantly lit, roofed for safety (so no one goes flying out of the track), wired for electronic speed and start/finish sensors that measure thousandths of seconds, but because the sun can change the quality of the ice, or snow can interfere, the whole course has blinds (not unlike roll-down window shades) to cover the open side, which if needed, will be vigorously manned by a large workforce who will roll them up for the cameras as riders pass, and then pull them back down to protect the precious (hand-groomed! and “spritzed”!) course from the elements.  Seriously. Continue reading Olympic excess

I was expecting chaos, mayhem, and frantic over-budget preparation, but Whistler is ready.  What construction is still on is placid and small-scale.  In fact, the only work-related phrases I overheard were “ahead of schedule, almost done, let’s take a break”, and “totally primed.”  Whistler is almost holding its breath for the onslaught, I think, but it sure seems ready.

My steez here was to find out what my job description was, and to sort out a place for my bro and I to live during the Games.  Done, and not done.  I’ve been chewing through my cell minutes, driving to and fro the breadth of Whistler, studying maps and knocking on doors.  Sigh.  I’ve learned a great deal, and am very glad I made this mission.  It’s invaluable to learn the town so well while I can still drive everywhere and park everywhere, and I wangled my way through the front line of security at the Athlete’s Village to meet the right people and get a sense of what I’ll be doing Games-time.

Accommodation on the other hand… I was parking in different neighborhoods and knocking on doors, randomly- a very humbling experience.  I was forcing myself to knock on the doors of the really nice homes, too, since I’ve learned from hitchhiking that the prosperous are often very nice and generous- perhaps those attributes contribute to prosperity.  People were unfailingly nice to the strange mendicant on their doorstep in the dark, generous with advice, and I got to hear many peoples’ opinions of their neighbors, neighborhoods, and the Games.  Continue reading

Off to Whistler


Made a headlong dash for Whistler this weekend.  Going to Whistler before the Games was something I “had to do”, but when the time came, I had a lot of resistance and put it off and put it off.  Oh well, we made it out, feeling unprepared and leaving too late, but as long as it gets done.

After an eight hour drive shared with my friend on thankfully bare roads in the passes, a fantastic meal in Van that included seafood and Bailey’s ice cream, and a sleepover on a king sized bed, I was off for Whistler solo.

I’m so glad for Stanley Park.  It really is a jewel in the city, and somehow that abundant lushness dampens the buzzing of frantic city energy, if just for the moments of passing through it.  Even the token postage stamp of a forest that it is still puts the rat race in perspective, as the canopy dwarfs the traffic and the bucked up windfall on the side of the road reminds of the strength of natural forces.  Then you roll out of that reprieve onto the threshold of Lion’s Gate bridge, rather a beautiful sample of engineering.

The Sea to Sky is finished now.  There’s a little bit of falling rock remediation happening still, but the new highway is a far cry from the last time I drove it- in white knuckled terror trying to keep the speed of traffic in an endless narrow lane on a wildly curving road all construction zone with high-hoes swinging over traffic and equipment perched on the edges of cliffs and rocks with only the Pacific behind them. Continue reading Off to Whistler

Sunshine!

What a difference the sun makes!

It’s been so long since we’ve had a sunny day it feels like a whole different season.  For the first time, I can feel my new 20-20 vision.

I also just went skating, and now I can hardly walk.  My legs are all wimbly.  First time this year; first time in a looong time.  Sure seems like more than a year since I got into my sk8s.  I think I was hurt last winter.

Shift.

It seems like it’s been raining for ten days straight, but today, there’s a splash of sun on the mountains lightly sugared with snow.  I couldn’t for the life of me get a decent shot, even after climbing on the roof.  There’re power lines everywhere.  It’s been so gray for so long.  I’m grateful to be so busy.

It’s getting cold at night and I’m not sure how long camper life will last.  The colder it is, the more condensation occurs inside, and I’ve not yet learned what it will take to correct that.  Besides the dripping windows in the morning, I can take it much colder but can Kevin?  So far so good. I’m addicted to the bed-preheating electric blanket, which makes every bedtime audible-sigh-worthy, and she sinks into the duvet in the V of my legs and purrs herself to sleep.  Very very happy times.

Getting a little excited about having a farm to live on.  Loosely planning for veggies and trees and berries- more things to research than anything else.

A small but valuable accomplishment: beginning.

Having an odd sense of non-emotion now around the potential purchase of property.  It’s not at the top of my mind, hardly a priority in my day, yet the process is sailing along ever more smoothly.  It looks like it’s going ahead, and we’ll be on the new 5 acres of digs in a month, with a horse.  Every so often I think, oh yeah, in no time I’ll probably be on some land and life will look completely different.  I’m sure I’ll be bursting with excitement as soon as I pull the camper into the barn, and start cleaning brush and designing gardens, lists flying everywhere, but until then, other things dominate my head.

Like writing!  Praise be, we’re writing.  My friend and I are both working on big projects that have stayed more in the realm of vision than reality for far too long.  Now together, we’re making them real.  We have a writing date, and both of us sit down and click and stare sternly at our pages, pausing over word choices and spelling.  The half hour we promise to do turns into an hour and half every time.

I’m familiar with the way that an idea is perfect and glowing, bursting with energy and perfection, but then you sit at the keyboard filled with intention, and the words don’t come out in nice sentences with the pop you imagined.  Three hours later you look up hungry, thinking you still have to finish it up, rewrite the beginning, and edit the whole thing, let alone format and post it.  I know that song.  That’s just what it takes to make something real instead of a fantasy.

As I plunge into the hitchhiking book it feels like I knew it would take time, but now I know how much.  The table of contents that flowed out of me on a break between rides on my last trip is a blessing.  It gives a structure and creates a list of topics.  Every day I’m tackling one little category and writing about it.  I’m sure every word will change in the edits that will be required, but right now I’m getting the ideas out in words.  It’s terrible, artless writing, but it’s out there now, and after all of it is “out” will come the stage of editing to make all those pieces readable and entertaining.  Then will come the stage of editing that will give it form and cohesion.  It’s a hell of a lot of work, and I “knew” that before, but now I KNOW.  And it’s underway, which is spectacular.  A small but valuable accomplishment: beginning.

Truck truck truck

See how it glistens in the rain...that incessant rain we've been having

Overwhelmingly  in love with my truck!  It’s full of fun gadgetry- took ages for the previous owner to explain them all to me, with their odd symbols.  Fog lights, robotic collapsing side mirrors, heated seats, adjustable shocks, altimeter, compass, digi interior/exterior thermometer, giant sun/moon roof, auto temperature settings, floor storage, headlight washers, and an emergency flare.  Diesel of course, so I can put bio in it.  The stereo is so sophisticated I couldn’t figure out how to change the radio channel, and it can bluetooth my phone for handsfree chatting- not a headset, but the kind that will make passing drivers think you’re a crazy person talking to yourself.  I couldn’t get that hooked up yet either though, even with the help of an 11yr old- the one I have to ask when I need help with MY camera.

But most of all, it’s sexxxxy!  I can’t even explain why, but I think it’s gorgeous and pretty and hot!  As my friend said right away: “OMG, I want to climb on top of it!” I’m instantly over envying anyone’s Rav4s and Toyotas and flashy hybrids, that cost 8x as much.  Well, I still envy Smart cars, but you can’t tow a camper with those. Continue reading Truck truck truck

Reindeer

The hatch-battening days have struck.  Today was not cool by numbers, but had that piercing quality that makes you wish you were wearing a warmer hat, and mentally assess your coat and scarf and mitten collection.  Will it be enough?  The days that soberingly remind you that winter is cold, and reminds you what that feels like.

Inspired by the possibility of earning a little money at Xmas craft fairs, today the kids and I opened Santa’s workshop and made some prototype reindeer.  First we filled the back of my sexy new truck with branches and dragged them home, importing that wonderful wood and snow smell of Christmas.  It went incredibly well.  The green wood was really easy to cut and drill, and the process was creative, flexible, and rewarding, rarely frustrating.  The oldest boy amazed me by pumping out three different sizes.  The smallest one is only an inch and a half tall.  The “head twig” was too tiny for him to drill for antlers.  We’ll see how large a team, or herd, we can create tomorrow.  This should be good.

Its almost like they hatch- they just come together as though they were meant to, and then they emerge- full of personality and mocking their intended design, if you started out with one.

Kelowna's good side

A beautiful view in the morning after an awesome night.  Spent the night on my friend’s guest futon and had a very “cozy in my heart” night talking at high speed with much laughing about everything!   It was really lovely to “re-find” a friend from long ago that I can feel still connected to (Thank you, T**, for your spontaneous welcome- hearts!).