Urban Adaptation

Sustainable urban living, rural dreams, and daily change for a homemade life.

Archive for the ‘Personal stuff’ Category


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There are days that feel like sandpaper.  Every little thing, no matter how small, snags and grabs and pulls a bit until suddenly, sometimes without warning, you’re rough or raw or feeling just a bit thinner than you did before.

After a week in which I had more than a few rough spots over things that, really, weren’t worth having a rough spot over, it was time to slow down today.  There was a bit of work that needed to be done at the start of the day, but then there was a run outside in the snow, and yoga at home to stretch out and breathe.  There was a lunch of yogurt and homemade granola, a large pot of soup and homemade bread for dinner, and a big pot of rooibos tea.  There was a movie with The Boy, reading in my most comfortable chair, and watching a wonderful documentary.  Soon, there will be more reading in bed, meditation, and sleep under a deep pile of covers.

After a week of sandpaper, today felt like something I can’t quite define yet.  But it’s been a both a balm, after a week that was not really so great, but also hopefully a way of developing some buoyancy in order to be better able to stay afloat when things aren’t going so well, or a shield for when the sandpaper shows up again.



Written by Jenn

February 13, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Small art and love and beauty

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As we go marching, marching, unnumbered women dead

Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread.

Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.

Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too.

I was plotting out this post in my head last night, after a week that had a few less-than-pleasant days in it.  And then, lo and behold, I ran across this post earlier today.

As I work on being more sustainable, I sometimes finding myself treading into territory where things feel less than pleasant.  Now, everything shouldn’t necessarily be rainbows and ponies all the time, but in many of these cases, these issues are my own doing – I’ve taken on too much, expected more of myself than I’ve had to give, or cut back too much in some area or another, leaving me feel stressed out, off kilter, and generally like I’d be inclined towards headbutting something.

It’s easy, as I move towards making the life that I want, to take on things too quickly, especially when I still have a whole set of responsibilities already that require tending.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to jump in feet first, but trying to deal with everything all at once right off the bat is a recipe for burning out, which in turn makes things that should (and usually do) feel like warm summer sun on your back seem more like being out in the midst of a raging hailstorm, ducking for cover.

So one thing I’m doing the weekend – other than resting – is thinking about some of the ways that I can make life not only a bit easier, but also a bit more beautiful, and less like drudgery on those days when almost everything feels like a shore.  The post from above has some really excellent advice.  Right now, I’m pondering the clutter with new eyes, considering how to make things a bit more beautiful around here, and trying to wrap my head around the idea that perhaps it’s okay, now and again, to pay a bit more money for things if they improve my life in some way.

For those who haven’t heard it, the verse above is from a folk song called “Bread and Roses”.  It’s not long, and if you don’t know it, I’d suggest seeking it.  It does a wonderful job of both getting at social justice issues, but also of pointing out that life is more than just work, and that there needs to be beauty there as well.

Something to think about this afternoon.

Written by Jenn

February 13, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Posted in Personal stuff, Words


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Some weekends, I rest.  I appreciate the time to sit, to read, to visit with friends, to simply take it easy and be, which is something so many of us don’t do enough of.

This weekend was productive, though, and even at its end I find myself energized and ready to take on that little bit more.

I’ve taken on a bunch of academic work, and made what will likely be huge strides towards completing my research.  I’ve also tackled work for other projects that need completing, and crossed many of them off my to do list.

The biggest gains have been around home, though.  I’ve managed to clean the tub, the tile, the ceiling, and the mirror in the bathroom, and to sort through some of the laundry.  I’ve done all the dishes, swept the floor, cleaned under the sink, decluttered a bit, cleaned the sink, the counters, and the stove.  I’ve baked bread, and now have home fries and a veggie quiche baking in the oven.

As much as I take satisfaction in rest on the weekends, especially after a long or otherwise trying week, there’s also satisfaction in productivity and in actually getting concrete things done (perhaps especially for those of us who spend much of our time living in our heads).  Although I imagine I’ll be tired very shortly – especially after the pleasures of dinner – I’m pleased with what’s been done, and feel far more grounded and centered now that work has been done and the results are visible.

Written by Jenn

February 6, 2011 at 8:42 pm


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Walking home sometimes, I stop to look at the outside of my apartment.  I live on the bottom floor, close to the ground, and the apartment opens out onto a patio and a bit of grass.  To some, I imagine the patio looks cluttered, with its mismatched pots, bags of soil, crates, bike, chairs, and a table.  All I see, though, is the potential.

The table is there to work on, and the pots to grow things this summer – herbs, small tomatoes, and maybe a few other plants as well, if I get really lucky.  The bike’s to get around without relying on public transit or a car (not that I have one).  The chairs are to sit out and enjoy some time outside.

There are currently some problems with the space.  Unfortunately, the most notable are the neighbours to one side, who noisily use the space as their own, leaving tents and beer bottles and cigarette butts out wherever they want, and the neighbours above, who generously let their dogs use the balcony as a bathroom, and then sweet it all down to us.

That said, I haven’t lost hope.  I still see the beauty in this place – in any place, really – where I know that change is possible, and that things can be done in a way that is productive and sustainable.  I’m working to make these changes.  Sometimes the work is slower than I’d like, but it’s happening, but by bit, as I try to find a better way of doing things where I am here and now.

Written by Jenn

February 5, 2011 at 10:31 am

Dreams and plans

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When I think about what I want from the future, many of the things that I want aren’t yet fully fleshed out.  I don’t exactly where I want to live, how big I want the space to be, even what I want to be doing with myself over the course of a day.  I think this is a good thing, in many ways.  It’s flexible, and means that I’m not so wedded to one particular idea of the future that I can’t see another amazing opportunity that comes up because I’m so fixated on a particular idea of what I’m looking for.

Other things, however, are very specific, and it’s these things that keep my dreams from being too amorphous, while also giving me something to envision and work towards.  I know that I want chickens and probably sheep.  I know that I want chickens with a series of old-fashioned women’s names, and sheep named after some of my favourite authors.  I know that I want a cozy home (a fireplace or woodstove would be ideal) with a kitchen big enough to cook and bake plenty of food in.  I want a garden out back, with heirloom varieties of vegetables, and ideally an orchard as well.

I want to get up in the morning, care for the animals, and then drink my tea in front of the window.  I want to spend my days writing, or teaching (since I plan to keep up my academic life in some kind of balance as well), and then spend evenings cooking and baking (and eating!), reading, playing music, visiting with friends, enjoying life, or even catching up on some of the million things that always seem to come up and that need taking care of.  I want to get tired, cold, wet, and hungry, and then come in to the calm and rest of home, knowing that all is as it should be.

This is all, I imagine, a ways down the road, but I haven’t lost sight of where I want to be, or why.  I keep these dreams and plans in the back of my mind all the time, and work towards them as much as I can right now.  And someday I’ll wake to the sound of the rooster, and start my day with the animals.  Maybe that day will require new dreams and plans – more land, more animals, more gardening – but that bridge will be crossed when I come to it.  Right now, these dreams and plans are more than enough to keep me going.

Written by Jenn

January 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm


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…of the somewhat loose variety.

Despite not generally going in for resolutions, this year I sat down and drafted a whole long list of them.  A too long list, I think, and probably a list that was just made for failure.

So, I scrapped much of the list, and now I’m keeping it simple with three general resolutions (in no particular order).

One: Take care of me.

I’m kind of lousy at taking care of myself, so this year, I want this to be more of a focus.  Less anxiety.  More sleep.  Less stress.  More exercise.  Less crap food.  More whole food.  Less TV.  More meditation.  Less stuff.  More space.  Less spending.  More saving.  All the stuff you’re supposed to do, really, for a healthy mind and body, but not really in any set ways that require tracking.  I simply more want to be in tune with what I need and try to work with that.

Two: Take care of work.

Basically, this translates to finishing the dissertation.  I want to be done by the end of the year, and I think it’s do-able.  That said, I also need to do some job-searching, apply for courses for next year, and generally keep on top of things, but I want work to be a significant but manageable focus this year, with a PhD in hand by the end of it all.

Three: Take care of the world.

I plan to keep up with making my life as sustainable as possible, and adding in a few new things as well.  I want to keep cooking, baking, walking, bringing my own bags, reducing my consumption, recycling, using public transit, biking, knitting, growing, turning off lights, taking short showers, and buying used.  I’d also like to add in some composting, additional growing, and sewing to the mix.

Now, I know I’m breaking the cardinal rule of goal- making – other than taking caring of work and the culmination of the dissertation, this is all rather not-measurable (therefore making it difficult to tell when, say, I’ve actually accomplished something.)  But I want things simple this year.  I want to go largely on gut reactions.  I want to get a sense of when things are working, change them when they’re not, and have the flexibility to do so.  A lot has changed last year, a lot will change this year, and I look forward to seeing what it all brings.

Written by Jenn

January 1, 2011 at 11:57 pm


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Recently, I’ve found myself complaining – here, in real life, even in yet-unpublished blog posts – about how I have too much stuff. This is, of course, true. Some of it needs to go. But, today, rather than seeing it as a burden, I want to see it as a blessing.

It’s a blessing because I have enough, and my life is comfortable as a result.

I may have too much bedding, but I always have a cozy place to sleep.

I may have too many clothes, but I’m always warm, and always have something nice to wear.

I may have two many pots and dishes, but I can cook lots of healthy, tasty food, and feed many people.

I may have too many books, but I have lots of interesting and useful things to read, and to loan or give to friends.

I may have too much stuff, but I have enough that I can live a comfortable life which is, sadly, not something that everyone in this world can say.

Things are still on their way out the door, of course, but I know that I have enough, and for that I am very grateful. At the same time, I hope that what I give away will be useful to other people, and maybe even help to make sure that they too have enough.

Written by Jenn

December 17, 2010 at 12:03 am

Posted in Personal stuff

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