Let The Kids Ride The Bus

From the day we moved into the neighbourhood, we walked with our kids. The girls—there were only two then—would walk with the mister most days while I was working in my home office. (more…)


All-Candidates’ Debate 2017: A Family Night Out

The littles and I attended the Shawnigan Residents Association (SRA)-sponsored all-candidates’ meeting at Shawnigan Lake School last night. The biggest little’s class is putting on a mock election in a couple of weeks so this event was educational for all of us.  (more…)

Rules for a Happy Marriage: Renovations

Many years ago, the first renovation project the mister and I did together was to move an outdoor staircase in our first home. The original stairs stuck straight out of the house’s second storey in one long ugly tongue. We moved them along the side of the house with a platform halfway down to break it up into two strings of steps.

I wanted to plan, measure, re-measure, estimate costs, make a timeline, mitigate risks. He wanted to build the stairs. Just build them. No plan. How would he know how deep to make the cement platform at the bottom? He’d figure it out when he got there. This broke my brain. I remember sitting on the stairs wondering if our young relationship would survive this staircase.

My good friend Rena, during a call to rant about the disturbing reality of the mister’s project-management style, reminded me that just because he sees the world differently, doesn’t mean he’s wrong. The staircase was built. The old stone platform ingeniously moved from its original location to the new space using a rock and a lever. Rena was right: his way worked fine and it was a delight to watch it unfold.

This summer we replaced our kitchen cabinets. The whole project was joy. Yes, joy. We have achieved renovation nirvana because, after over a decade married and with many renovation projects under our tool belts, we have unconsciously established a set of, until today, unwritten rules that make it possible to renovate with your spouse without it being harmful to your relationship’s health.

The Rules

Rule #1: Have no expectations.

If you expect your kitchen to look like the one in the magazine, and you don’t have the funds to ensure that expectation is met, you’ve lost. Set your expectations so low they can only go up.

Rule #2: If you’re not doing the majority of the work, you don’t get a say.

The worst thing I can do is show up mid-drywalling to point out a flaw in his taping. This is a no-no and most likely will result in a stream of barely audible colourful language. Conversely, he’s not allowed to tell me my white-washing painting technique is incorrect. Same result.

Rule #3: When it’s not perfect, eventually no one will notice or care.

The flaw in the drywall and the sketchy whitewash will be insignificant when the whole project is complete. You probably won’t even notice after a while, unless it’s a big flaw, like that time the Universe took a piece of paper from my fingers and dropped it into the not-yet-cured resin coating on the mister’s custom dishwasher panel. Oopsy.

Rule #4: Accept the project will never be complete.

Unless you’re a perfectionist or unemployed, other priorities will move up your to-do list. If the baseboards take a year to nail in place, they take a year to nail in place. The sooner you get comfortable living in your incomplete renovated space, the sooner you will reach nirvana.

Rule #5: Drink

We had two cases of wine in the cupboard before this project began. No bottle was left behind. I only remember the project as a joyful experience. This is likely no coincidence.

Next time you renovate a space with a loved one, test these rules and report back—when you’re sober.





Pigs Can Fly: The Donald, Community, and Resilience

Donald Trump has put up a mirror to show the world there is work to be done in rebuilding integrity in the democratic process. His win, the Brexit win, and any unexpected political disruptions that follow will hopefully awaken the non-engaged citizen who had the misconception that government would take care of itself.

Trump’s win is confusing but it’s not the end of the world. People are more resilient than that. Take this story in the The Atlantic…

Deborah and James Fallows travelled around the US for three years observing and writing about how small American cities are rejuvenating themselves. They wrote this story because they realized major news outlets don’t talk about smaller cities unless a disaster hits it.

Many of these places had suffered from crippling unemployment, poor health, and poverty. What the Fallows found was each one of these places (and hundreds of other places they couldn’t visit) are reversing that downward spiral. These communities are proving they are resilient to political, economic, and even climate change.

The lesson learned is that it takes the village—a partnership between business, government, and volunteer efforts from residents—to (re)build a vibrant city. In some cases, it takes a partnership between towns too. Partisanship and borders didn’t enter into the conversation. Imagine if we applied this philosophy to the Cowichan Valley.

Here is the long but eye-opening summary of their 54,000 km trip around the US.

If you only have 5 minutes, read 11 Signs a City Will Succeed and consider how it applies to the Cowichan Valley and Vancouver Island. Some of it we’re already doing; some of it we can work towards.

What can you do to help?