Healthy living, healthy parenting, healthy gardening. One Family's approach to off grid living.

Archive for April, 2011

Barefoot running; perfection of the morning

The last two mornings it has snowed.

The kids have been wearing winter jackets in the house in the morning.

We really need to pick up the new wood stove.

We’ve been fighting.

We’ve been laughing.

I went for a 3K run this morning before anyone was awake in my new <a href=””>Soft Star Run Amocs</a>  I’ve been planning on starting Couch to 5K, but didn’t have the walk/run times or a watch- so I just ran and walked when I needed to.

Fog was settled in the valley, trailing in long wisps through the skeleton cottonwoods.  I could see my breath.  I ran, like my body was built for running.  I meditated on my heart beat and my oxygenated blood pumping through my body.  I saw where the clover was full and green, where it was just emerging.  I know this is because there is water in the land.  You can see stripes of growth all of the mountain side.  If I dug there with my dirt covered hands from my pre run gardening, I would find water.

I hiked up a stream I found, to see where it goes.  resting on logs returning to earth.

There is snow tucked in shadow pockets.  It will be gone by noon.  I touch it with my toe and it dissolves with the heat of motion.

Because I can, I run.  My feet hitting the tail fluidly, solid, muscles adjusting to the curve of the ground.  I feel rocks and sticks, in a good way.  I feel balanced.  I am in love with minimal running shoes or barefoot running.  So far I’ve put about 25K on them, mostly on a treadmill.  My RunAmocs provide just the right amount of protection underfoot.  They fit really loose around the top of the foot- so I was skeptical they would stay on  and during the hiking portion of my journey they did slip around.  For running on relatively level paths with lots of big hills they were just amazing.  Usually my calves hurt or I feel like I have shin splints while running.  Not at all with barefoot or minimal running shoes!

I get back in and drink fresh pressed espresso bean coffee out of pottery with heavy cream.  The clouds are parting and blue skies are poking through.

There is a pile of dishes in the yard.  I imagine left over the winter when the water was frozen in the lines.

I am rearranging the kitchen, the bedrooms and finding homes for everything.

During the night the kids pressed close to me for warmth- I lay awake cold and careful not to smother them while my arm cramped up under my head.

The boys are so happy.  Water pours from a hose in the yard and they play, with mittens on laughing and silent.  Exploring waterways and river systems.  Making oceans and spraying themselves in the face.

There is so much to do it’s overwhelming.

There is so much to do that anything you do makes a difference.

My soft city hands are covered with scrapes.  My rubber boots are muddy.  I am alive.  Surrounded by life.


It’s sooo good it smells like artificial colors

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He groaned in pleasure as he washed his hands with the pearly pink soap in the Visitor Center’s washroom.


Yep, I had just pulled into Sparwood to see the Largest Truck In The World.

I’ve NEVER stopped for the kids at the truck before.  I’ve never driven the Southern route in 3 days instead of 2 before.  *I* feel like I am on holiday, and that’s a great feeling after a month of mostly single parenting.  The Super 8 was fine, but the Days Inn is really nice and feels like a major treat even though it was cheap off of

Seeing the world through these eyes is such a gift.

They alert me to beauty all around me.  They alert me to misery all around me.  I want more beauty than misery in their lives.  This is the gift my parents gave me. In the car the boys play, talk to each other, fight, and spend a lot of time looking out the window.  We don’t have any babysitting devices in the car.  We used to, a portable DVD player, for a couple of years, we used it a ton.  It broke shortly before Finn was born and neither boy even notices.  However, today it took us 9-10 hours to complete a 5 hour drive.  This is most I’ve ever enjoyed travelling with the kids, which is remarkable because it is a 3 day, 14 hour drive alone with 3 boys 5 and under.

The difference is a) nice weather and b) time to actually stop and enjoy the view

view c) stopping and doing enough fun stuff that my kids realize that their siblings really are their best friends.  That’s pretty much how life on Erie Mountain is in the spring/summer- like an extended summer vacation a peter pan land of no bathtubs, showers in waterfalls, nightly fires, rope swings in trees, early morning hikes while the clover is still damp and the air still cool.  Sweltering Kootenay afternoons in a cold mountain lake nestled between green peaks.  Experiencing the seasons by integration.  This is the why.

The Brotherhood

The easy movement, lack of pretension

I watch laugh pauses, all their deep breaths

They are alone.  Fragile. I am still the mothership

and can see their minds crunching away without

calculating I am not him.

Open,a book of boys, they play

Lithe bodies rolling and climbing

Exploring movement; Because.

I cherish these moments; Because.

“Secret club of Erie Mountain,

Hip hip hooray -we’re going home”



The how isn’t quite as intuitive or poetic.  It will be hard.  So hard that I couldn’t face the first night straight up, I need to arrive in the day time so I can acclimatize without having a panic attack.  I’m learning to figure out what I can handle, and what I can’t.  I’m going back with the understanding the kids and I will leave in the fall the second I am not handling it.  I’m really hoping we can get this lovely summer home winterized over the next few months and we can spend our 1st winter in Erie Kingdom.  The combo of post partum mood disorder and off grid living was just way too much for me to handle.

Today is the day.  A small bird is caged in my chest trying to get free.

All of these pics are SOOC, no cropping, no editing.  I would love any critique.  I`m just starting to feel at ease holding a DSLR.  I don`t have time to edit, so I`m just working on getting it right in camera.

PS.  The water in Cranbrook tastes like fish in April.

PPS.  Makes me scared to try the lobby coffee.

PPPS.  Free hot breakfast!!!  Love the Days Inn, Cranbrook!

Safe and Tired

We’re getting ready to head out for day 2 of driving. The kids are vegging out on TV with a belly full of hotel lobby Eggo.
We have about 5 hours of driving to do today.
Lobby coffee is disappointing.

Homeward Bound

6:48 am and today is Moving Day.  Thank you so so so much for all the help packing Brooke!  We love you!  I’ve got to take the toys and random bits out to the van, but we finished the majority of the packing yesterday.  On Saturday we ripped the carpet out of my van, since it spring thawed into a distinctive wet dog/leaky dump run smell to it.  The plan is to re-insulate/pad it with the Dance Dance   Revolution pads Mr.T insisted I order off E-Ray during the Old House We Flipped years because DDR was certainly the answer to all our Woes.  And then, cover it with dirt/coffee covered vinyl flooring likely bought from Wild Bill *the guy who has sold us all our our house furnishings and utility supplies.

I still haven’t actually spoke to Mr.T.  As far as I know he still thinks he are leaving Thursday.  I think it is a little bit funny.  It sometimes drives me nuts when we don’t talk for so long *a week this time.  I used to worry about all of the things that any wife would worry about, namely death and affairs.  Now, not so much.  I genuinely trust Mr.T and well, he has had a pretty good tack record of keeping himself alive and my brother would call if there was an emergency, and someone else if it was a double emergency.  It would surely be on the news after that, right?  So, I now deduct there is some problem on the property that I can’t do anything about from here and he hasn’t been near a phone/computer for 7 days.  And he never even calls his own Mother, so he’s not the type to call his wife or kids.

So just trust me honey baby my eyes don’t stray

My boys blow my mind every day

and I’m just staying home preparing for you

waiting for you

loving you


So, as I was saying I think it’s a little funny that Mr. T may not know we are leaving today.  We have Hotels booked for Medicine Hat and Cranbrook and then it is an easy drive to Slowmo.

Wish me luck and safe travels!

Goodby to the Grid Life, Packing Day

So, here I stand procrastinating on packing while Coach Rapper and His Lordship crafting away on a Easter gift for Gramma and Grampa and #3 strapped to  my back.  The Easter Bunny always brings a birdfeeder for the kids and this year we are turning it around and Easter Bunnying my parents with feeders the kids have painted. 

We are leaving earlier than planned because my parents stairs are being torn out on Monday.  I got a good deal for a hotel on Monday night about 1/3 of the way home, and in the process of booking one ( ) for Tuesday.  I’ll have 2 500-600km days and 1 300ishkm day alone with the 3 wild boys.  Should be fun.  We have a hot dog roast planned with good friends for lunch on Monday 2 hours into the drive.

I am nervous.  Oh yes I am.  When I left, it was dark, rainy, I felt terrible.  The laundry was overwhelming onces the days got colder and muddier.  On more than one occassion I filled every single washing machine in the Castlegar Laundrymat.  !On the upside- the laundrymat has free wifi so I aim to post at least 1x a week from there

There is gravity fed water in the yard now.  Wedged into the crack of our hand thrown Magician Creek.  The water comes out so crytal clear and tastes like magic, or well, nothing.  I am not actually sure if I am okay with this or not.  A) I said I wasn’t going back until the pump was in for the well and we had running water and B) this divertes the water from our little garden pond and dammit, that’s my secret garden go dig your own mother effing water supply!  But then, I would rather not haul water from the neighbours well than have a pond.  Le sigh.  I have no idea if Mr.T has purchased a pump or not.  We speak briefly every 4-5 days when he calls from a payphone or a friend’s house.  I get the odd email.  I have to not really think about it, because I worry about him falling out of a tree or lighting a forest fire ( he assures me he can put out the fires he starts with a shovel.)

So there is that.  We have a small black hose with potable water running constantly in the yard.

I have no idea where our new woodstove is- if Mr.T has picked it up, or if it is still in Castlegar.

I have no idea if our new big! propane generator is going yet. 

I have no idea if there has been a pump purchased, or if a plumber has been found.

I actually have no idea what the new steps up to the Yurt look like.

And he has no idea we will be there on Wednesday.  Last we spoke I told him Friday.

!Wednesday should be interesting

Hey darlin’- if you read this before I get home, we will be there on Wednesday now and uhh, can you please make sure the composting toilet is shovelled out before we get there?

The Infamous Lentil Cookie Recipe, by popular demand

From the Saskatchewan Pulse Crop Development Board’s 1994 cookbook “Discover the Pulse Potential”

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup butter

1 egg

1.5 tsp vanilla

3/4 cups of pureed lentils

1 1/2 cups flour (I always use spelt flour)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans

bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes

So yummy, very forgiving recipe.  I know some people have had better success with 2 eggs, so if your batter seems too dry, add another egg!

The joys of sand