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Almost Ready for Winter

Another week has flown by and winter is clearly starting to settle in.  While the temperature has remained comfortably above freezing, the leaves are gone, the harvest is almost over, and everything has turned a sleepy shade of brown.  In short, Mother Nature is settling in for her long winter’s nap.

I am settling in for winter as well.  I have purchased and now neatly stacked roughly six pick-up trucks worth of wood with which to heat my house for the coming months.  My landlord said this should be enough, but we’ll see.  At least this year I know exactly how much I am starting with (8 face cords), and come spring I’ll know if that was enough for not!  Even if I don’t spend another winter here (and I do not intend on doing so, although never say never), this will give me a good feel for how much wood is needed to heat a moderate size house during a Southwestern Ontario winter.  I love heating with wood so much that I fully intend on doing so wherever I live in the future.  So this is good knowledge to have.

I’ve also almost finished winterizing the rest of my house and yard.  I still have a couple of items to break down and tuck into the shed, some temporary fencing to dismantle, and a few last ceramic pots to empty and put away.  I hope to do this tomorrow as it’s supposed to be warm and sunny.  I also want to clean my car out and put on my snow tires.  I may also rake up some leaves to mulch the little garden beds I built up this summer in hopes of saving what little grew well.

Inside I need to dismantle the room that has the leak.  I am going to use this room as storage for things I don’t need right now but don’t want to get rid of.  However I will remove all linens and other things that can be damaged by dampness.  The room only leaks (so far) to the extent that one wall starts to get very damp and puckers after a lot of rain, but I don’t know what to expect over the winter as the roof continues to deteriorate.  The landlord informed me that he will not be fixing this, so I have to shut off the room.  Technically I could withhold rent, but I don’t want to get into that kind of a struggle.  I simply do not have energy for it, and I don’t really need that room anyway.  I love the house and the landlord welcomes my animals, so it’s a trade off.  Likely I will simply pack up and move out come spring and not worry about it.

I have spent the past week focusing on re-claiming my balance, and I seem to have done a good job of it.  I continue to sort through the remainder of my stuff, organizing and purging what I don’t need.  My house is feeling a little more zen every day, and a little more ready to receive.  This weekend I picked up a cute little red loveseat for the living room (second hand, thanks to Kijiji!), so I now have somewhere cozy for guests to sit.  The room is welcoming and I want to spend time in it for the first time since I moved here 18 months ago!  It’s hard to move into a space constructed by someone else and make it your own.  It took pulling everything out of the room so that I could envision how I wanted it before I was able to set it up this way.

I have also made a very conscious effort to spend some time on myself every day this week, and that is making a really big difference in how I am feeling.  Even if it’s just 10 minutes of meditation as soon as I get up in the morning, my mind is remaining clear and calm, and I feel centered and capable of handling what comes at me.  The days I teach that’s all I’ve been able to do, but the other days I have claimed a little more time, doing yoga or just sitting quietly out on a sunny rock in the woods and enjoying ‘being’ while the dogs hunt mice and frisk about.

I still have done very little cooking, but I fortunately keep finding things in my freezer to keep me going.  Last weekend I purchased a second freezer (for only $30, again through Kijiji – what a wonderful resource!) that I am going to stock over the Christmas holidays so that I will be able to eat well next semester. I’m excited to have this additional freezer space at last, and am in the process of finding ways of organizing the food I have currently to keep it accessible.  I may have one freezer for meat, and the other for everything else.  I’ve been researching local, grass-fed beef and now have the room to buy at least a quarter, if not half a cow.  I have already purchased two lambs from the wonderful farm I bought a lamb from last year.  I go through roughly 150lbs of meat a month (nearly all for the dogs) so this extra freezer is going to make a big difference.

Today I started some sourdough bread for the first time in weeks, as well as a double batch of this superbly delicious chocolate sourdough cake (most of which will be brought to work) with the leftover sourdough starter.  I made this chocolate cake recipe a few months ago and it was probably the best I’ve ever made.  Topped with butter icing, it’s out of this world.  I also have a milking that I need to process into yogurt, butter and cheese.  That will be it for today.  I hope tomorrow to make some soup.  Oh, and at the market this week (London’s Farmers Market, the closest one still going strong this time of year) I purchased a bunch of leeks to chop and freeze for winter soups.  With these leeks I finally have the basics for the coming months, even if my pantry is a bit sparsely stocked this year.

Finally, with my centre of balance back, I have been working effectively and have made considerable progress academically this week.  This feels really good and I’m back to enjoying what I’m doing.  Today I have some grading, and some planning to do for the week’s lectures, as well as a little research for next term’s courses.  Too much work to make time for my dissertation, but one more productive week like this and I may actually be in a position by next weekend to get back to writing.

The last few weeks have been really tough, but they have taught me much and I am in a better place for the struggle.  The most important thing has been the recognition of how important it is to keep space open in my life for me, for just being instead of always doing.  Even a few minutes a day makes an astounding difference.

3 Responses

  1. While I am a real thrift store, Habitat and Kijiji shopper I will not buy used appliances. They are generally so inefficient that the cost of operating them far outweighs the investment. When I have to replace appliances I look for the absolute best Enerstar rating available at that time. While I may pay more, over the course of the life of the appliance it will be cheaper to operate.

    As a slight aside, how do you define ecological living?

  2. I had to think of you just now as I’ve been looking at Cornell’s fantastic History of Home Economics site (Cornell founded the study of home economics) and saw all of these wonderful historical photographs of people learning to can food as part of the food effort. I’m sending the link as inspiration!
    Yet another reminder that these skills have to be taught or they are lost forever…

    • Thanks for that link! I love the photograph. I’ll be sure to pass this along to my students, many of whom are becoming interested in this sort of thing. I actually had a group make pickled eggs for the class! So very fun.

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