This Parenting Thing

Being a parent is hard – any parent will tell you this, and it is true some of the time of course.  Most people know that being a parent will be difficult before they become one, I was no exception.  But for me the parts that are hardest aren’t what I expected them to be.  Sure, there are the sleep deprived nights, the endless diaper changes and sometimes crying that goes on longer than you think you can bear.  But there are other aspects of having a little one around that affect a person – maybe on a deeper level – that I for one hadn’t really taken much time to consider and caught me off guard a bit.  Having a child will likely change your perspective on a lot of things.

You will want to spend time doing things that you didn’t like doing before, just because you will enjoy those things with your child and see the excitement in their little face. The time that we spend together playing with playdough, colouring, stacking blocks is a lot of fun.

You also might find that you approach the world differently in general.  I’ve realized that overall my approach to life has been to try to convince myself that I don’t really care about results – and if successful in that approach then I really have nothing to lose – within reason of course.  In the end it meant that I didn’t have to worry as much about the potential results of what I did or my actions, allowing me to focus on experiencing life and less worrying about potential failures.  For someone like me, who is generally fairly motivated to take action and complete things I set out to do, this works.   In many ways it’s an easier and calmer way to live for me, and it turns out, much more difficult to live by when you have someone who looks up to you, relies on you for everything.  Taking a risk becomes more difficult with the knowledge that another life is completely reliant on you.  It was an eye opening experience to discover some of these things that were going on in my head that I didn’t even really realize were there at the time.

Now I will try to take the important parts – the parts that allow a calmer way of living – and integrate them into the greater reality of parenting and life in this day and age.   Perhaps the need for peace and the need for security can co-exist in a more natural way.  And of course I’ll continue to enjoy playing with toys and an energetic and imaginative toddler.

The Critters

Around our home we have a couple of pets who keep us entertained and sometimes keep our feet warm on a cold night. As they are cats they also help keep our previously mouse infested home somewhat less covered in mouse dirt.  The first cat we got was found through an ad on Kijiji.  The owners were moving to a new home that wouldn’t accommodate their 3 cats so they were giving them away.  The other two had already found their new homes when we went to meet “Kaley”.  While there we happened to notice a sign on a door in their home.  “Please keep bathroom door closed or cat will poop in shower”.  Hmm this could be interesting we thought.  After we brought the cat home we didn’t really feel the name Kaley suited her.  Krista and I couldn’t help but notice the cat’s well fed girth so she ended up with the nickname Chub Chub.  Eventually that was shortened to CC and that’s been her name ever since.  Oh, and yes, she is the cat that poops in the shower… once in a while when she feels the need to let us know she isn’t pleased.

A few years later we were visiting Krista’s parent’s farm where they have a continuous stream of new barn cats being born at any given time.  This particular visit there was a litter that included a little gray runt with a funny high pitched meow.  The barn cats are often given table scraps to eat and one day while we were there a plate covered in bacon grease was left out for the cats.  The little gray one decided that a good roll on the plate was what she needed and for weeks following she smelled like bacon.  On our next trip down to visit we decided to take that little cat home and she’s been known as Bacon ever since.

So there you have it, the story of CC and Bacon, the cats of Oslicken Acres.

A New Painting

For a number of years now I have dabbled in abstract painting. For the last year or more I haven’t spent much time exploring that avenue, but recently I finished another painting and I’m hoping to do more on a regular basis. I’m fairly pleased with the result I achieved on this painting.  I  have other paintings I’ve done as well as some that Krista and I painted together on my website.  I would also like to further explore the methods used by another painter I am a fan of – Gerhard Richter.  Krista got me a DVD which shows Gerhard painting and it’s fascinating to watch!

Camping: A Weekend of Firsts

This coming weekend we have booked a campsite at Pancake Bay Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Superior. This will be our daughter’s first camping trip and that makes it an extra special outing for us!  It’s also our first visit to Pancake Bay. We’ve heard good things about it and are looking forward to checking it out for ourselves. Additionally it will be the first time we take our little camper trailer out since we purchased and refurbished it.  I bought it a couple of years ago and have been slowly working away at getting it roadworthy and ready for camping again. It’s been a lot of work and there is still more to go but it’s been an enjoyable and rewarding process.

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Our refurbished camper

Upgrades to the trailer have included: new axle/rims/tires, exterior LED running/tail lights, battery, solar panel, power inverter, leveling jacks, sofabed cushions, curtains, window screens, roof vent, front window covers, exterior storage hatch latch and door step. I also removed a storage closet to make the interior space more roomy and replaced rotted wood where there had been leaks in the past (oh and fixed leaks!).

Still to come is interior and exterior painting, new flooring and whatever other new projects I come up with! In the mean time we will be enjoying our first trip in our little camper that is uniquely ours.

Around The Apple Trees

The property we now call Oslicken Acres has some interesting stories attached to it. As we spend time in the house and around the land we sometimes get a feeling of that history coming to life, as well as physical reminders of those who came before us.

A year or so after moving in I noticed a little clearing visible in the forest beyond an open field area. Upon closer inspection I found in that clearing a stack of rocks and a small plastic box. On the bottom of the box was stamped the words “Cremation Services”. The box was laid back on it’s spot on the rock pile where it now remains.  It’s still a mystery as to who is eternally resting there.

It has also been said that one of the couples who owned the property are
buried under an apple tree here. There are a number of apple trees on the property so we try to avoid digging near any of them! We also have a section of trail through the forest that is consistently a number of degrees cooler than other areas around the property. If our cat CC sees us walking in that direction she will often begin caterwauling, which we have to assume is a warning for us not to proceed. We have never heeded the warning, and so far we are still ok, but we wonder what she knows that we don’t!

We also have a regular visitor to our home in the form of a small bird. There are a lot of birds around but this particular bird seems to desperately want to come into the house.  It repeatedly flies up to our bedroom window and flaps it’s wings against the glass. This has been happening off and on for the last few years.  It’s very likely that there’s a simple explanation for this behavior, but I often wonder if a former resident is trying to return to the home that they know.

There is something satisfying and comforting to me that our time here is just a small blip in even the short history of the settlement of this property. Many have come before us and experienced similar things. And many will come after.

Serious Issues Require Serious Reflection and Action

We live in a world with many issues and problems. This isn’t news to most of us. If you look at things from a high level you’ll see international conflict/war, poverty/hunger, environmental issues, political corruption and numerous other important issues to consider. Environmental problems are vast and include oil spills, invasive species, oceans filling with garbage, nuclear plant failures, carbon emissions, endangered species etc. The list goes on and on, and for most of us it can quickly become overwhelming thinking about these issues and what we might be able to do to help remedy the situation. We know these problems exist and we want to help correct them but often feel helpless to really make a difference.

Many of us try to make daily decisions to limit our contributions to the problem somewhat. We recycle what we can to divert garbage from landfill, we don’t litter, and we don’t spray hazardous chemicals on our lawns and gardens. Maybe some of us even grow our own organic vegetables, drive an electric car or have installed solar panels to reduce reliance on outside energy sources. Individually this helps in a small way and we feel better for knowing we’re making an effort to improve the situation. But many of us also have a nagging feeling that what we’re doing isn’t really enough. That as a society we need to do better, but the problems seem so overwhelming that we don’t know where to begin or how to make real difference.

And often this is where our thinking/action on the subject ends. The problems seem so big that it often seems we’re helpless to affect any real change. We leave things in the hands of our government and the big corporations who create the products we buy, the power we consume, and the food we eat. Unfortunately our capitalist society and governmental systems reward short term profitability over long term sustainability. Corporations have an obligation to create shareholder value, in many cases at the expense of the environment. Government officials act in a way that is most likely to get them voted back in when the next election rolls around. That means doing what the most powerful lobbyists push for – those with money – and guess what; that’s those big corporations fighting for shareholder profits.

So as consumers in a capitalist society what can we do? One of the most powerful methods is to vote with your wallet. Buy the organic vegetables that were grown without the use of pesticides/poison. Avoid purchasing products that have excess packaging or packaging that isn’t recyclable. Stop buying products/services from organizations that you know have poor track records when it comes to the environment or other societal implications. Avoid purchasing products containing hazardous chemicals (cleaners, pesticides etc.). Buy products from those who have the overall health of our world embedded into the mission of everything they do and who support full disclosure product labeling so we know exactly what is in the products/foods we buy and how it affects us and our world.

If enough people were to take these steps it would eventually start to affect the profitability of the offending organizations enough to force them to change their ways. Perhaps this seems like a simplification of the problem/solution, and yes there are many complicating factors, but at a basic level we do have the ability to influence things if a critical mass of people were to embrace these types of choices.

I warned you this would be a serious post and I don’t profess to be any better than anyone else out there when it comes to our household’s dealing with these issues. But it seems to me we need to do better for the sake of our world.