Learning Something New

You know that saying, “You learn something new everyday” that people throw around when they learn something new? Well, I’m not sure if I do actively learn something new everyday, but today I did.

This morning I was having breakfast with my paternal grandma and two aunts, and my mom, who are all over the age of fifty (sorry ladies, it’s pertinent to the story!). We were talking about my having to work instead of going to the craft sale that they were going to. I said something about how there wouldn’t be many people out on a cold Sunday afternoon. My one aunt responded with, “Is it cold here? It was warm at home.” They drove an hour and a half from PA (and area) to Saskatoon. She explained that she had looked at the thermometer at my grandma’s place and it had said it was “10 degrees.” I looked at her slightly confused and said, “1o degrees ABOVE zero?’ She said that it was, indeed, what she meant. I contemplated it for a few seconds and said, “Well, it’s at least -15 here.”

This spurred on a conversation about weather and the Celcius vs. Fahrenheit “debate” after my grandma talked about Trudeau changing everything from Fahrenheit to Celsius. I tried to debate with her about how “it makes more sense that the freezing point be zero than 32 degrees.” All of these women argued that it made sense to them that freezing was 32 degrees.

Somehow we got to talking about how when grandma says it’s 10 above or 10 below that she is referring to 32 degrees. This blew my mind because in my mind of minds, I thought she was referring to 10 degrees below ZERO! Apparently, all of this time that I had been saying, “It’s forty below,” or something like that, anyone over a certain age thought that I was referring to Fahrenheit when in my mind I was referring to Celsius! Conversely, when someone said that same thing, they were probably referring to Farenheit.

The thing that I learned today was that you don’t say “10 below” when you are referring to “-10 degrees Celsius” because it actually means Fahrenheit. Apparently these two things just are not the same. So when my grandma says that it’s “10 below,” I really have no idea what that means. I think I liked it better when I thought she meant -10 degrees Celsius.

The Clutter Project – Introduction

I was born a pack-rat. Even from a young age, my mother fought with me to throw out items that I squirreled away into the corners of my closet, dresser, and even under my mattress. Some of my mom’s favourite stories of me include throwing away coloured colouring books, which to me was a showcase of my hard work and I loved seeing the completeness of the books. My mom, of course, saw them as unnecessary clutter. I would scream and cry and sometimes even dig through the trash bags hoping to salvage some of these important items that seemed to define my existence.

After the de-cluttering, though, my mom could see a change in my mood. I was a happier child with more lightness and positive energy. As an adult I know that my “moodiness” throughout my life can be attributed, in part, to my mood disorder entitled “Bipolar II Disorder.” If we had known back then what I know now, we would have done a lot more than just throw out my precious things. We would have dealt with the problem in the first place. The problem being the accumulation of the stuff and the representation of my inner self. A big part of it was the fact that I did not adjust well to change and ended up not being a very well-adjusted child or adult. While I have become better at it, I work on it every day and try very hard to change the way my brain processes the changes and obstacles and are inherent in life.

The other day I went in to a used bookstore, a place where one who has clutter and is a collector of collecting things should never go. I have had some specific books that I wanted to look at and thought that I would see if the sought out titles were there. They were not, but I found other books that I wanted. I decided on two of the three, deciding that I already had too many vegan cookbooks and put that one back. One was a knitting book so that I could start my next knitting project – I have been quite successful in finishing knitting projects. The other was an ironic choice entitled, “Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui” by Karen Kingston – this one really spoke to me and I instantly felt a connection with the author in the first page that I read.

I have struggled with clutter my whole life, but never have I struggled with it as much as I have since moving into my new house last June. I bought my house and moved all of the stuff I had in my 1.5-storey house into my current house with about 75% the living space as my other one, but about double the storage space. This has proved to be extremely dangerous for me. I have succeeded in packing every single corner of my living and storage space with stuff. Since I have moved into this house, I have felt unsettled, ungrounded, and disorganized. This has done nothing to help with my struggle to manage my bipolar and it seems that every time I get one step closer to organization, two more things come into my house and my life to mess it up again.

Upon reading the Feng Shui book and being in some places lately that have had such positive energy, I have made a commitment to uncluttering my house and my life. I need this in order to keep my sanity and take back my life. Even within the first few chapters, I feel understood: “Probably, like most messies, you maintain that there is order in your chaos and, what’s more, that you need to keep things in the open to remind you of important things you have to do. But if someone actually puts you to the test and asks you where some thing is, at best you only know the general direction in which it lies and rarely its precise location.” This paragraph resonated in me and I knew that this was a project that I must embark on ASAP, ie. NOW.

I am externally motivated and often need goals, sub-goals, lists, and deadlines for a project. While I have not come up with those yet, I have committed to this project. I have taken pictures and am hoping to document this process. I know that in order for me to do something, I must do it quickly or I won’t do it. I hope in the next few days to get this project off the ground and to have it completed by the end of November. Let’s see how this pans out.

First Day of Spring

After what has seemed like the longest winter EVER, it is finally the first day of spring! While it was +1C outside today, it seemed extremely dreary. Saskatoon is generally a very sunny place to live. So when dreary days like this happen, it seems to affect people’s moods a lot. I called a friend saying that I was “bored” for lack of a more descriptive word. In reality, I felt lethargic and unmotivated. Granted, I had biked for 3 hours in the morning, had a 2-hour nap, did my taxes and the dishes. So maybe I was just out of energy and didn’t want to do anymore. Or maybe it was just the grey clouded sky that put a damper on my spirits.

The signs of spring to me are not so much a date, but a smell and a feeling. It has started to smell like spring for sure, but it won’t be until the trees start to bud and the snow melts to make water flow in the streets. Being from the farm, I remember spring being a wonderfully fun time. Water would fill the ditches and us kids couldn’t help but play in the water wearing rubber boots and making rafts. We would find frog eggs in the water and watch as the eggs turned into tadpoles and then into frogs. It just seemed so natural that these little clusters of jelly would turn into hopping frogs. Now there is less water in the ditches and the frogs have all but disappeared. And now, as I have become an urbanite, the signs of spring are not nearly as much fun: dirty streets and wet pants and shoes. However, I have to admit that I will be over-joyed in a couple of weeks when I can get out onto the highway for my first road bike ride of the season!

Happy First Day of Spring!

Smelly Memories

Every once in a while, I have this urge to make split pea soup and when I do, I am reminded of my late grandma. Maybe I have the urge because I just want to feel like she’s near me… or maybe she is and that’s why I get the urge. It’s the smell of the dill in the soup in combination with the root vegetables and split peas (yes, they do have a hint of a smell).

According to How Stuff Works: “A smell can bring on a flood of memories, influence people’s moods and even affect their work performance. Because the olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, an area so closely associated with memory and feeling it’s sometimes called the “emotional brain,” smell can call up memories and powerful responses almost instantaneously.”

Today at lunch when I heated up my split pea soup and I started to smell the dill scent wafting, I was brought back to a time in my childhood. There was always a lot of people at my grandparent’s house. With 10 children and many more grandchildren, there was always a lot of kids running around. However, I am brought to a time when I was one of the only kids in the house with my grandma. I was playing in the living room and my grandma was at her post in the kitchen. She would shuffle back and forth from the stove to the cupboard to the table, over and over. She was always cooking for everyone. Her arthritic hands stirred the soup or kneaded the dough… she provided food for her family. When I became a cyclist, she would knit me toque after toque and give it to my mom to give to me to keep my head warm while I biked. I am still amazed at how non-judgmental and supportive she was, even when other people in my family were not.

When she was in the hospital, only days before she passed away after being on this earth for 89 years, I visited her in the evening and fed her ice cream. She loved ice cream, all cream, really. What good Mennonite doesn’t?!? She made a cute comment about how our roles were reversed and I was taking care of her and that this is what happens when one gets old. She lived long enough to see her kids and grandkids take care of her and that was long enough.

All of these memories spawned from a bowl of soup. Isn’t the human mind amazing.

Adventure: What it means to me

According to Webster’s dictionary, adventure is a noun that comes from “Middle English aventure, chance, risk, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *adventura, from Latin adventus, past participle of advenire to arrive, from ad- + venire to come” and dates back to the 14th century. It defines it as:
1 a: an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks; the encountering of risks;the spirit of adventure
2: an exciting or remarkable experience;an adventure in exotic dining
3: an enterprise involving financial risk

Isn’t it wonderful how a word that seems to simple can mean so many things. I was thinking today about my adventure of buying a house. While the risk to my physical well-being is small, it is a financial risk of sorts. However, the biggest adventure part of buying a house is that it is an exciting and remarkable experience. In Saskatoon, I have paid rent for most of 10 years. That is a decade of paying rent. Now my rent goes towards owning a home. It is quite remarkable in my mind. Sometimes I wonder what the bank was thinking, giving me a mortgage! To me, I’m still the 18-year-old wide-eyed farm girl who needed EXACT directions to get to Saskatoon from my small town.

I remember the day that I moved here. I left home on my 18th birthday, just like my mom had always promised I would. When I was just too much for her to handle she would yell, “As soon as you’re 18, you’re outta MY house!” And I would, of course, yell back that I couldn’t wait. However, we were both teary-eyed as I drove out of the farmyard. I was the first of three to leave the “nest.” I believe I cried for an entire hour of the 2.5 hour drive from “home” to Saskatoon. I knew my life would never be the same and that I would never again live on the farm. I was, indeed, an adult.

For my first two years of university, I lived with my cousins in their basement suite. Now that I think about it, it was definitely the best thing for me. The day before my first class of the “Math Readiness” course that I took, I had to ask them which was I was supposed to turn when I went out the front door. That would be the first day that I had taken public transportation. Yes, I was so young. However, the next morning I walked out the front door, turned right, and walked the 3 blocks to the bus stop. I repeated this almost every day for the next two years. To me, even taking public transportation was an adventure!

So, really, everyday is an adventure. Some experiences are more remarkable than others and some are riskier than others, but they are all adventures. I guess it just depends on how we look at them. I foresee many adventures in home-owning. Things like replacing furnaces, buying dryers, fixing floors, cleaning eaves troughs, and so much more. Hopefully it will be more exciting for others to read about! I guess no matter what, they’ll be adventures for me.

Politics on the Prairies

I have always said that Saskatchewan is bipolar in terms of politics. On the provincial level, the two big parties are the NDP and the conservatives (and whatever name they are running under). I can’t help but wonder if it’s not because of our extreme temperatures. In the winter, it can get down to -50oC and in the summer, it can reach up to +40oC. While we do spend a lot of time in between, we spend the duration of our time speaking about the extreme temperatures. It seems very much to represent our political views in this province. We’re either hot or cold. We love something or we hate something. We’re left-wing or we’re right-wing.

My other theory is that our family background tells us where we will stand politically. On my dad’s side, my great-grandfathers decided to “agree to disagree” on politics. My grandmother’s father being a lifetime member of the CCF (the old-skool NDP) with his being from Sweden and all. My grandfather’s father was a Liberal – “middle of the road” I suppose. In my family, we don’t really talk politics. My parents never used to tell each other how they voted and we weren’t allowed to discuss it. However, since I’ve become quite politically involved and very open and loud about it, my parent’s have disclosed how they have voted. While they generally agree on the fact that there really is no great party or candidate, I’m not sure that they always vote for the same party. Nonetheless, voting in elections has always been a priority for me, even if it is to abstain from picking one party.

I have to admit that I have left-leaning tendencies in a lot of ways. Ultimately, though, I don’t really like any of the parties. There are some good individual candidates, but rarely do I think “YES! That party stands for what I believe in!” Basically this is the case because I believe our political system is flawed. Our country is too vast and intricate for any one party to possibly represent everyone. I believe in smaller parcels of land. Maybe our city counselors and Rural Municipalities should have more of a role in the federal and provincial political system. Maybe everyone needs to take some lessons on how to get along with others and how to compromise. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I think that everyone in this whole country should learn that from a very young age. However, this will never happen in our current political and economic system – capitalism feeds on the fact that people don’t get along and that people think of themselves first, even if it is at the expense of another person.

I believe in compassion, compromise, trust, relationships, and love. We are all human and we’re all just trying to make it. Why can’t we all just get along?

All I’m saying is “give peace a chance.” What party believes in that?

A Purpose

This blog is just one of many of my blogs that I have in internet-land. Writing is an outlet for me and I plan to use this in my many adventures that I go on. In my daily life I have adventures and this seems like a good place to write about them. I often go on these adventures with my dog, Clifford, a 6-month old standard poodle who is quickly becoming a very integral part of my life. I don’t clip his hair and I like the way he bounds around and loves everyone.

Upcoming adventures that I have planned are a bike trip to the Pacific Ocean, as inspired by a recent acquaintance who came through town to remind me not to say “I’ve always wanted to do that,” going to New York City, a place that I’ve always wanted to go and I have to admit is entrenched in my love with Sex and the City, and taking yoga teacher training and/or thai yoga massage training. When and where these things will happen are unknown.

For now, I live and work in beautiful, sunny Saskatoon. I love it here and it will always be here. My roots run deep in this city and province. My family is so important to me and the prairie runs deep in my blood as my grandparents were born and raised here in the prairies. My remaining grandparent, my grandmother, was born in a small town in southern Saskatchewan that is not much more than a speck on a map. I recently got to pass her little town of Ardill, where she lived until she was 10 years old and The Depression hit them hard. She is now 88 years old, her bones are made of steel, her mind is strong, and her love is great. She is an inspiration to me because through all of the hardships she has seen, she has remained open-minded and loving, with just a hint of bitterness. With all of this in mind, I will always come home.