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Archive for December, 2012

If you happen to be snowed in, or without a television (both of which describe me), there are still a lot of great documentaries available online. One of my current go-to sites is Films for Action. There are hundreds of titles but a good place to start is their Wall Of Films, featuring over 400 documentaries for social change on one page. My current favourite is Sharkwater, also available on YouTube.

 

 

Another fabulous *free* download is a spoken word poem by Shane Koyczan, “For the Loneliest City” (aka If You Are Alone at Christmas). Just go to his website and download. You might want to check out his other works while you’re there- he’s a remarkable poet.

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Well, having taken the time to post a rant I figure it is probably high time to update our friends about the actual building progress. Long story short- we’re not in and won’t be until spring. Short story long, see below…

As of mid-November we were still planning on moving into the new place this winter. And then I hit a wall. Upon heading outside in the mornings I started to feel like if I had to spend one more freaking day toiling I was going to break down in tears. I was kicking at the snow and muttering clever things like, “stupid house!” From April until November the schedule had been: get up, go to work (house and garden), come home, make supper, pass out, repeat. Which might not have been so bad except that I determined (in my infinite wisdom) to work seven days a week at the beginning of the year. Previous years I’d taken time to dirt bike, read, visit with friends- what a difference a little down time makes.
Anyway, add to that my inability to complete floors and ceilings on my own and the decision was made to postpone the move. Having had a month off physical labour, I’m ready for spring and excited to go again but hey… The decision was made.
I’ve had a lot of questions about what the temperature in the new house is like and don’t feel qualified to answer at this time. Because we haven’t moved in, we’re not heating it regularly. Shane fires up the stove and heater (sometimes) when he goes out but there have been weeks when we haven’t even gone inside. The wood stove in the kitchen does heat things up quite a bit (and quickly). The mass heater takes longer to heat things up but stays warm quite a bit longer. And the passive solar in the living room does add a good amount of heat to the room.
We will finish up berming in the spring. Our intention is to berm at least 3/4 of the way up the buildings on the north, east and west sides leaving only the south side exposed. We didn’t have time to berm very high this year before the snow fell but you can already tell the difference in temperature between what’s exposed and what’s ‘underground’. I suspect that because we didn’t insulate, the berming will be critical to the liveability of the house. We’re actually considering buying a small tractor (wheeeeee!!!) and, if we do, that should move things along nicely compared to our manual shovel-work.
Of my “lessons learned” from the year, I would say that the importance of berming in a northern climate ranks near the top. (And don’t work seven days a week for seven months straight.) The other two big ones: we should have gone with larger (or more) windows in the kitchen and maybe the bedroom (solar gain in the living room is drastically better and does add a good deal of ‘natural’ heat); and deciding to put a room on the north side at last minute, in spite of advice, was not the best idea. It’s very cold in there. We will insulate the room come spring (from the outside) in addition to berming and that should save it.  I also think that building lower would not only have saved time but also been more efficient insofar as heating. Granted, we hadn’t intended cathedral ceilings so much as belatedly changed our minds about a second story and decided to throw a roof up… In any case, it looks fabulous but a shorter building would have done.
Like every other year, the experience wouldn’t be complete without a few lessons learned. 🙂
snowy-house

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This is probably not the best time of the year for me to write (publicly). I tend to get a little cynical around the holidays. Rather, the cynicism of others starts to wear on me. My biggest annual irritant is those people who (in most un-Christian fashion) choose to get up on their soap boxes and bemoan all of the ‘foreigners’ demanding that they say “happy holidays” rather than “merry Christmas”. Really? When was the last time a so-called foreigner suggested you change any of your traditions? And where did you get the impression that anyone cares what you have to say, be it about a holiday or any other subject? If you are the type who chooses Christmas to vocalize your bigotry, against people who may or may not share your religious beliefs (I’d point out there are MANY Christian immigrants living in Canada, and many non-Christian immigrants who could care less what you celebrate let alone what you call it), chances are the only people who will ‘like’ your status or go merrily along with your assessment of political correctness run riot are other ignorant fools. The rest of us fall into the cringe-and-try-to-ignore-you group, or the deeply offended.

That these same people choose to celebrate Christ’s birth (which many Christians argue is not December 25th) through massive consumption strikes me as a wee bit sacriligious. I’m not sure what evergreen trees, presenting people with wish lists, massive spending, overconsumption of goodies, and waste have to do with your Saviour’s birth but hey- I’m not Christian. There, I said it. I’m not Christian. Whew. That’s a relief. And probably a surprise to many who know me as a third generation Irish, white girl. Quel surprise! A third generation Irish, white girl who every year makes a full turkey dinner for whomever I know will otherwise be alone at this time of the year that means something to them. Ironically, that strikes me as the more Christian thing to do than shopping and bigotry.
One last thing- let’s call it a reality check. I’m surprised with all of the news about Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike and the Idle No More protests taking place across this country that more people aren’t reminded that there were people here before our Christian European ancestors landed here and began to decimate the population. We had (I would argue have) no respect for Native spiritual beliefs and no attempt was made (on our part) to assimilate. We forced our religion, our way of life, language and self-entitlement on the Native peoples, taking their children, their land, and their rights (that hadn’t hitherto needed to be written as law). Hence the whole messy reconciliation process and lack of equality that persists to this day. So before we get up on our hind legs about our (imagined) persecution, let’s take a moment to reflect on what what allows us to be so self righteous.
I’m not suggesting that my Christian brethren shouldn’t vocalize their beliefs. Au contraire. At this magical time of the year, I would like to advance the concept of embracing your Christianity- specifically those tenets that involve kindness, humility, charity, and good will. If there are points to be had for saving souls (I think the argument goes, “better to act as if there are and find out there isn’t, than to…”) , let’s take a lesson from all of the companies out there so effectively marketing their products and services and make Christianity appealing and not just offensive. Go ahead and put the “Christ” back in “Christ-mass”. I double dog dare you.

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