Treading Water

Before COVID I felt like I had a lot on my shoulders, but now, even with G working from home & barely doing much travel at all as compared with before, it doesn’t seem like much of the weight has lifted. He certainly does help, of that, there is no denying, but I feel like most days I’m just barely keeping my head above water.

In some ways life has slowed a little, but in other ways it feels a little more chaotic. I enjoy the freedoms that homeschooling presents to us, but with those freedoms also comes great responsibilities. I often stress that I am not teaching them enough, that we aren’t delving into some subjects as much as they might get in the school system, but then again, there are other subjects that they LOVE & spend way more time on (Mythology comes to mind & even then we are barely scratching the surface compared to what’s out there). I do like that they can learn more about the things that they really enjoy, but there’s always that worry that I need to do more. I love that I am more involved in their learning overall though.

This year G put me forward for a body of work, so now I am doing remote contract work for a company that has employees in Europe & the States. I like the work, but it has been a bit of an adjustment to do the work with everything else that I do. I am grateful that it isn’t full-time, it’s more of an as needed arrangement, which overall works, there have been several occasions where I have cancelled plans though, which has been a little frustrating sometimes, but that is the way of it.

I am of course still doing my creative work, sewing items, taking pictures, maintaining my website, posting to Instagram & Facebook etc. When you write that it doesn’t sound like much, but it all adds up. I find that adding listings on my website is often the most time consuming, but it has to be done & to be fair there is a great sense of satisfaction when it’s completed, because of the effort required.

Added to all this stuff (besides all the day to day stuff added in there, which also adds up), is the planning for a couple of in-person events that I have been prepping to attend next week, gifts that need to be made for xmas & also all the planning for a trip back to see family & friends in Australia. That takes a whole new level of planning these days.

Of course regularly waking up at 3am, to stress about whether I am doing enough & how I can possibly keep up this pace, isn’t helping my levels of exhaustion these days either. For now, I just need to try to maintain some levels of sanity, whilst I “keep swimming”, just like so many others. 🙂

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Loss

Sometimes you don’t realize the full impact that people have on your life until they are gone. COVID has brought that idea home, for the last couple of years, with friendships that have waned & some friends that have passed away.

One friend, gave me the opportunity to at least let her know a fraction of what her friendship meant to me, before she passed away, which I am incredibly grateful for. I still I find myself grieving the loss of her in my life & wishing I could have conveyed (in a clearer way), just how wonderful her presence was in my life, even for the short time we knew each other.

In part, because of the losses that I have felt over the last couple of years, both that of friends that have passed & opportunities be present for life events, I have decided to seize the moment & see some family & friends overseas in the not too distant future.

Travelling whilst COVID is present isn’t as smooth a process as it used to be, but it isn’t insurmountable either. I won’t necessarily get to see everyone that I wish to, but I will at least get to see some & that’s better than none. Some people will understand the decision & other’s will think it’s crazy & that’s ok, just don’t be a dick about it. I am me & you are you.

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Chickens

One of the the things that I have been focussing on with homeschooling is teaching the kids to be more aware of the food chain that they are a part of.

Baby Chick with E
Holding a baby Chick

They’ve grown up with gardens & know the joys of picking fresh veggies from the garden to eat as they desire, at least the veggies that survive the groundhogs, rabbits, squirrels, birds, deer, raccoons & more. We also have farms that we visit, both commercial & homesteads of friends as well. I have also made preserves & pickles with them, so they have an understanding that you don’t just “buy” what you want when you want. Free trade, means that you can get lots of fruit & veggies year round, many of which that don’t grow locally, but to grow them takes time.

Growing fruit & veg & knowing how it grows & where is important, but if you are meat eaters as we are, so is an understanding of where your meat comes from.

When I was younger my parents raised chickens with my Uncle Clifford & Aunt Marion. I only recall it happening once though & maybe that had to do with the amount of work that it can take to process them?

I have only come to appreciate how time intensive it is, since I’ve helped friends process a couple of batches of birds that they’ve raised, but when you taste the results, there is no denying that it tastes so much better than anything that you can buy at the grocery store. Some of that might have to do with the personal satisfaction in being a part of the process or the practice (here in Canada) of injecting salt water into chicken for commercially sold chicken. Honestly, I’m not really sure, but the meat is actually tastier & so much nicer to cut up.

Another 10 weeks & we can taste the rewards of all the plucking etc.

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In the Land of Oz

For a while, we have been reassessing the items that we own, trimming down & decluttering. Sometimes the stuff that we hold onto is more of a weight than anything of real value & you don’t actually need to keep the physical item anymore. For example I came across my speech “In the Land of Oz” that I did at school in 1990/ 1991, just before my family moved to Australia from Canada. In reality, I don’t need to keep the physical speech anymore, a picture of the cue cards & transcription of it here, will more than suffice to look back at in future. It’s funny reading it & the stereotypes I had at the time. Enjoy….

In the land of Oz

In the Land of Oz Cue Cards
In the land of Oz, cue cards

Chairman, ladies & gentlemen, honorable judges, boys & girls, teachers

In the land of Oz, there’s no yellow brick road. There are bitumen roads, as paved roads are called in Oz, and a lot of dusty roads.

No Emerald City here, unless you’re in the tropical forests of Oz. From pineapples to apples, the fruit in Oz is delicious. Sugar cane & grapes deserve an honorable mention too. Plant life is varied from deserts to mountains. Animal life is unusual to say the least. Oz is most well known for it’s koalas, animals that carry their young in a pouch such as; kangaroo’s wombats & marsupial mice are found only in Oz. By now, you know Oz is Australia.

Some of the water dwellers of Oz can be dangerous & even deadly. For example the sea wasp as the box jellyfish is called. Salt & fresh water “crocs” or crocodiles are a protected species and they’ll eat just about anything, so, if you see the warning signs posted, heed them. Tourist’s and locals alike have been had by these “beasties”.

If you are one of those that hates snakes and spiders, Oz is not the place for you, because they have lots. For example the taipan snake, sea snake & tiger snake can all be deadly. Unless you have the bad fortune the stand on one it is unlikely that you’ll be bitten. There are also a couple of nasty spiders including the funnel web, the redback & the whitetail. So, don’t play with any of the spiders you see, pretty or not!

Well, enough of that, now for the people. The first settlers were natives who came from neighbouring islands. The British were the next the use Oz as a penal colony. They transported 160,000 British & Irish convicts to Oz in the 17 & 1800’s. Not to mention the officers & sailors who made sure that the “crims” or criminals served out their seven years for their petty crimes. Convicts were kept busy constructing government roads and buildings, many of which still stand.

As the colonies increased, so did multiculturalism, as you can see when you visit Australia. As you are thinking of this, you might ask “Will I meet a Mick or Crocodile Dundee? Yes, you might meet one or two, but he is strictly a country model. The real Paul Hogan was a Sydney Harbour Bridge painter, a job that I’ve heard that once you finish at one end, you start again at the other.

While girls here are playing with their barbie’s, grown men are playing with their barbie’s or BBQ’s in Oz. Here are some other words or phrases I found interesting & would like to share;
Donk – car engine
Duco – car paint
Don’t come the raw prawn – Don’t try & fool me
Floater – meat pie floating in (green) pea soup
Good on yer – this is a clipped way of saying Good on you OR Well done
Manchester – household linen
Lollies – sweets & candies
Lolly water – soft drink/ pop
Icy pole – popsicle (frozen lolly water or ice-cream on a stick)

Thank you for listening. I hope that you have learned more about Oz

There you have it, Australia in the eye of a Canadian kid at the age of 11 or 12, in the early 90’s.

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Books are wonderful

After over a week on our boat, which I was already exhausted from & then getting slammed with getting my period (which often flattens me for a bit on its own), E decided to read me part of one of the Percy Jackson books.

E reading Percy Jackson

I love that the kids have taken to reading so much. L has been a bookworm for a while now, but since Covid we’ve encouraged E to read more & she’s embraced it more because in part, that’s what everyone else does.

Homeschooling, whilst it’s been hard at times (mostly because I’ve had moments where I’ve been worried I’m not doing it right) has also been incredibly rewarding. I definitely see the kids growth more, but that’s likely because I’m more invested in the process too.

Looking forward to another year of educating the kids & the potential to do more with them too, as it seems more things are opening with more & more people getting vaccinated (at least that’s the case here in Canada).

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At Peace

A little while ago, I wrote an open letter to a friend, because I couldn’t let some things go unsaid. Today, I received a message with the news that I had been dreading. I knew before I even opened the message, she was gone. I am relived that she is no longer in pain, but there’s a sadness in knowing that she is gone. She was a kind soul, who knew how to look after herself. The cards dealt, were not always favorable in life, but that didn’t stop her. I liked her a lot & valued our friendship, more than I can really express.

She reminded me a little of myself & I think that maybe I did the same for her too. I might not have known her very long compared to others, but the time that we had, left an impression.

Sometimes in life, people question your decisions & how you live your life. There will always be those who think you could do things differently. They haven’t walked your path, be true to you. Here are some words of wisdom I think that L would approve of

Being nice doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat
Just because others like mind games, doesn’t mean you have to be a part of it
Spend your time and effort on those that deserve it, walk away from those that don’t
Enjoy life, you have one to live!

Rest easy L, Rest easy

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Sewing

I’ve been teaching my kids to sew for a while, little things & mostly on my sewing machine. Around Christmas I bought a Singer sewing machine for the kidlets (Singer Stylist 7258). It’s not too bad a machine, unfortunately, it came with a faulty sewing foot (C3 error), so I finally called to get it sorted & am now being sent a new sewing foot.

Having fun sewing

Because of the faulty foot, the kidlets now know how to sew without it, which has been a valuable lesson in itself. My youngest loves it so much, she even said “Mummy, sewing is my stress relief.”

She also made the comment that now that we have a boat, she needed to learn how to sew properly, so that she has something to do on the boat, which made me laugh because she loves sailing so much & is part of the reason we got the boat.


To see one of their projects this week, check out this blog post on my twoemu creations page.

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We bought a boat!!!

It’s official! We bought a boat!

What an upgrade! We’ve never really seen ourselves as owning a sailboat of our own, but here we are, (amazing given about a year ago G had his wages cut & we were genuinely concerned about how things might go, but sometimes the stars align (not to diminish the hard work & determination we had to make it work, but sometimes you really need the stars to align too).

We’ve gone from exploring the waters in a 6 metre (20 foot) sea kayak (which G & I used for over a decade doing 100-200km expeditions not that infrequently), to getting a canoe to paddle with the kids, when they were a little too big to sit in the hatches, to a 30 foot sailboat!

Clearly we aren’t water or boat virgins’, having worked up from small watercraft to a sailboat, & it might not be the manner that most take to get a sailboat, but it’s the path that we have taken. We’ve been on a few boats with family & friends, both sail & motorized & loved it, I’m sure it helps that we got to have all the fun without the reality of owning a sailboat.

Before we bought a boat though, we did do a Sail Canada, sailing course, which we highly recommend (especially to any random person who reads this that is on the fence), to get more of a taste for sailing on our own eventually (if we proceeded down this path). It resulted in us receiving our PCOC cards, something that you really want to have before you get a boat of your own anyhow. After getting it & proceeding down the path of boat ownership, you realise just how important that little card is, for insurance too.

Catalina30 Mk II (1991) on the hard.
(mast yet to be re-attached after winter storage)

Looking for boats in the middle of a pandemic, when it’s a safe recreational activity, is a shit though. Normally, the market would be awash with boats for sale, now, they were in short supply & demand was bumping costs up. Here in Canada, you could fairly easily get a boat from the States or even Europe normally, but these days, with all the borders shut between countries, you really are stuck with the local market, there aren’t that many out there.

We started looking a little at the end of the 202o season, but nothing really grabbed us & we really didn’t have the funds to be fair. We did however workout that $10K for a boat, wasn’t what we were looking for, which was beneficial in itself.

After some searching online for a few months through the winter, we started to notice the market pickup again at the end of February (2021). By March, we had looked at a few boats seriously already & put in an offer on one boat that we liked, but fortunately didn’t get put forward to the owners (thank goodness for dodgy boat sales guys, just like other sales people). At the time we were annoyed & disappointed, it was certainly a lesson learnt.

Fortuitously, the boat broker (not affiliated with the dodgy AF guy) that we were dealing with locally, told us about the one we ended up buying that same week & connected us with the broker who was looking after the sale directly.

Our soon to be ours boat, went up for sale on a Friday. We organized to physically see it on the Saturday, put in an offer immediately, which was accepted (conditional on a survey & float test) & the boat purchase process was started. To say that the market is HOT is an understatement.

Official sail boat owners, no longer boat maintenance virgins, but still noobs

The boat is beautiful, it’s a Catalina 30 MkII. The previous owner, Ben, was quite unwell & had to sell it, unfortunately. You can tell he loved the boat though, it has been well cared for & we are so lucky to be it’s current owners. It came with a lot of added extra’s because of the manner in which it was being sold, which suited us perfectly too. Whilst we are going to be using some of our sea kayaking kit on the boat, not that much really crosses over, unfortunately.

After cleaning off a little growth, painting the bottom with VC 17, as per prior years (you can’t switch bottom paints from previous applications)

The sale went through officially at the start of April & we managed to get the bottom coated with VC 17 bottom paint to protect it. There are still a few more things to do, like put on a new anode on the bottom, before it’s refloated (this one really has to be done) plus there is some cleaning of the hull, work on the impeller & an oil change. Getting to where the boat is, is a little challenging given the stay at home orders (lockdown of sorts) though. So, somehow we have to sort out how to do that. It might involve asking someone else to get another anode (we took the one we bought home, as we needed some allen keys to install & wanted to make sure we have the right one to do the job, so unfortunately it’s not with the boat)

The boat was originally due to be launched the first weekend in May, but given current restrictions, it’s been pushed until the end of May. So our big celebrations will be pushed back a little longer, unfortunately. I hope that we can get there then, in theory one of us has to be, for the float test. Even though the boat is ours & we have the bill of sale, we have to make sure there aren’t any engine issues to be sorted (not that we are anticipating any issues, but you can’t be sure either).

At 30 foot it isn’t small, but it it also isn’t too huge either for a family of four, the boat actually sleeps 6. A good boat to learn & improve our skills on, because in the end, our plan is, that this will be our first sailboat, not our last one.

We didn’t get a lot of interior images of our own, but here is an image of the layout that I found online with a link to the original image here that seems to represent our boat

Catalina 30 Mk II layout

Here’s to many more water adventures to come, whenever we can do so 🙂

Posted in Canada, Family, Outdoor, Sailing, Travel | Leave a comment

Science with Soap

Homeschooling is a lot of fun. Here is a fun experiment that we found the other day, that I thought that I would share.

You have to use Ivory soap for this experiment to work. Ivory soap has a large amount of air in it (it gets whipped with big beaters apparently). Air, contains water moisture & microwaves “excite” those water molecules. This experiment shows you the microwaves radiation at work.

In terms of materials, it’s fairly easy. You need a microwave, bar of Ivory soap & plate.

Fluffy

We only zapped our Ivory soap bar for a minute at a time. We found that after one minute it had expanded so much that we had to stop it. Note that when you open the microwave it collapses a little.

There was still a fair amount of the bar left that had not expanded so we put it in for a further minute.

If you really don’t care about your microwave, I guess that you could do it all in one go, but we weren’t quite that game.

When the expanded soap first comes out it is a little rubbery in texture, but that soon changes to being fairly brittle/ flakey. The soap is still usable afterwards too, so you don’t have to throw it out.

SIDE NOTE: I would HIGHLY recommend getting unscented bars. It appears I accidentally bought the scented ones & I have to say that I am NOT a fan. You can’t buy just one bar on it’s own, but thankfully, we have other friends with kids, who are keen to have some.

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Happy Spring

Egg hunt underway

With spring, comes Easter. As 2021 is pretty much just an extension of 2020, we had another really low key Easter celebration, in isolation.

To be fair my use of the word Easter is done so loosely, there is an egg hunt of sorts, but beyond that we don’t do anything else. There isn’t any religious attachment to the event, at all, & we don’t do baskets of gifts or new bikes and other toys, like so many other families tend to do. The kids seem to enjoy the hunt though & it has evolved in difficulty over the years, to keep it interesting for them & us.

Pre pandemic, we used to have a lot of kids over to do a big hunt, and it was fun, but I have to say, these days, a quieter pace is pretty enjoyable too.

Last year, we actually gave away the bulk of the eggs, so in reality the days of big egg hunts are done, even when things settle. We only have an eco shopping bag full of eggs left (about 120, which is still a fair amount (the bag that kidlet2 is holding is actually the bag they are stored in). I think we had about 1500 at one point, so you can imagine just how HUGE & chaotic, the hunts were, they were also a lot of fun though too.

Egg nestled in a tree

With the kids getting older, we actually only filled 16 with treats of some kid (smarties, actual berries (fruit not just treats) and some jellies), whilst the rest contained a story that G quickly wrote & then cut up into over 90 pieces, for the kids to put together. It had moderate success, with the youngest giving up a bit earlier than Kidlet1, though the sorting process, but it did entertain them & it was something different. We managed to get a decent amount done, before the whole printed story was shown & kidlet 1 took it upon himself to sort them & then glue onto a few sheets of paper.

Story being pieced together

At the end of it, they both asked if we could do something like that again, so I would call it a success. It’s quite a fun activity, not much different to the scavenger hunts we have done in the past either, except a lot more reading & problem solving.

I can totally see it resurfacing for Kids Day in July (a tradition that we started last year) and likely for birthdays & Christmas too. It’s a fun, distracting activity from the current reality too, which is a bonus. 🙂

Posted in Canada, Family, Just for Fun, Our House, Outdoor | Tagged , | Leave a comment