You piece of…

I liked Justin Trudeau’s outbreak yesterday. Besides finding it deeply funny, I can totally understand how the extremely ironic situation led him to boil over. I’ve never been a big fan of Trudau, what with the hate for his father that was bred into me as a sovereignist Quebecer as well as the very annoying bilingual commentaries published on his Web sites during previous elections (if you’ve never seen them, they’re worth it… unless you are perfectly bilingual there is no way to understand anything because he starts a sentence in one language and ends it in another).

Anyway, I don’t like the guy that much because he seems too syrupy to me, too perfect to be real, the nice, cute, politically correct guy with the perfect wife, the perfect children and his father’s voice. But yesterday he made me laugh. The situation in itself is so exasperating – how many ways can Harper’s Government find to piss off about everybody else in Parliament and almost everywhere else? I am truly sick of these guys and their contempt for Parliament, for the population, for the values that Canadians are supposed to hold dear – like the environment. I am sick of their love of big business at the expense of the health of future generations.

So I feel like for once, Trudeau got it right. He expressed the feelings of a large portion of the people in Canada. I just wish I could have done it myself.

Yeah, he swore – but I say worse, although thankfully not when talking about my family. Yeah, I would prefer my son doesn’t start saying that to his friends, but he doesn’t watch Question Period. And between adults who know very well that he’s right? It might not help with the lack of decorum in Parliament. But I think we’re past that. We have lost so much trust in our government that I’m not sure this will make it worse.

And it made me laugh. That’s a start!

The 5 best decisions of my adult life

I read this post yesterday and was touched and inspired. The author of that blog, which I just discovered, seems pretty awesome, given how much humor she displays despite all the tough things that life threw her way. But I liked the idea of her post, which she herself got from one of her friends. So here is my list of 5 best decisions of my adult life…

1. Following my (2nd) dream and becoming a translator: I always wanted to be a writer. Unfortunately, I also like eating 3 meals a day and I’m too attached to security (and insecure about my talent) to try. I didn’t know what else to do with my life until the day I dreamed (for real, at night, while sleeping) I was a translator. Which reminded me that I had once thought of choosing this career path. So I made it happen and never regretted it. I found a career that I’m good at. It pays my bills, sure, but it also makes me smile. Most days, I’m happy to go to work, which I find is a lot more than many people can say about their job. I feel competent doing it, and it’s just challenging enough while still remaining relatively easy for me. And it doesn’t keep me up worrying all night.

2. Taking a year off: After finishing my degree, I wanted a break. I had gone straight from high school to Cegep and then university. At 22, I had never done anything than go to school and work, never lived away from my parents, never traveled on my own. I wanted to breath and think about my future. From there, so many decisions shaped my future that I can’t list them all. I picked BC as my first choice for the government program I enrolled in. I decided to travel (by myself) to unknown places instead of remaining holed up at home. I decided to stay that extra day in Seattle on Easter weekend, which allowed me to meet Zak on the way back (if I had decided to go home one day earlier than planned, with the friends I had just met, I never would have met him on the bus ride home). I decided to give love a chance when I met him even though I didn’t want to live outside of Québec and he didn’t want to leave BC. All those decisions made it so I could meet the love of my life. The rest is history.

3. Moving into a Coop: When we moved to Vancouver, Zak and I looked at coops, but we were not ready for the commitment. I had just started working full time and I was always tired, I could not imagine adding committee meetings to the mix. Two years later, we took the plunge. Sure, coops carry their share of issues (politics, gossip, work, inefficiency, etc.), but in return, it gave us way more than the cheap rent and secure housing we were initially hoping for. It gave us friends. We now have a whole community of neighbors who help us raise our children. We help each other, watch each other’s kids, visit each other… a whole bunch of people who can lend me an egg or an ear when I need them. I could not imagine raising my children elsewhere while being away from family. I never would have thought it would bring that much good into my life.

4. Coming off the pill: At the age of 29, I had been on the pill for 10 years. Zak and I watched a documentary that linked the pill to breast cancer and it made me wonder if I should quit. We discussed it as a couple. I knew I wanted children, but Zak wasn’t as sure and I knew one thing: if I came off the pill and became pregnant, I would have that child. That was an important thing to factor in when making the decision, and we both had to be on board. I stopped taking the pill in April. And although we used other means of contraception, I was pregnant in November – within 6 months. The arrival of my son was unplanned, but it changed our lives for the better. It made us a real family. It made my husband a wonderful dad. And I love him even more for it.

5. Canceling our cable subscription: I struggled a bit with which decision to put last. I wanted to find something that represented our commitment to an alternative lifestyle. We don’t have a car, we use our bikes as much as we can, we don’t buy our kids branded toys, we ask people not to buy presents at birthday parties, we try to respect the environment as much as possible, and we have no TV. To me, that’s the key. If I had a TV, I’d watch it – and as savvy a consumer as I am, I bet I would want more stuff. Not watching TV gives me more time to play with my children and do all sorts of other, more important things. And it makes it so my son goes out and plays instead of asking to watch a show. Sure, some day it will most likely change, but for now I’m happy like this.

I’m sure this post would be very different in ten years. I should probably revisit it then. If blogging still exists…

April’s Fools!

I was never too fond of April’s Fools day because I lack a good imagination for pranks and, as a child especially, I was always the laughingstock. But I have to say I really enjoyed it this year. Not much happening: I didn’t check the news and I didn’t have anyone play a prank on me. What was great was the fallout of the prank WE played.

Zak and I, with one of our neighbours, publish a newsletter for our coop. It comes out every two months, around the first of the month. It should be the first, but we’re usually late so it’s often the first week. This month, though, we made sure it was distributed on the first of April, because it contained an article detailing how a chicken coop would soon be built in our building’s courtyard. Vancouver does allow people to raise backyard chicken, and there are some very green-minded people in our building, so several people actually believed it was true. Some got really upset (for fear of the noise, mess, etc. that would come with the chicken). Some thought it was a cool idea, but unfortunately we don’t have enough space to realize the idea in a legal fashion. In any way, it got a lot of people talking.

Our article stated that the motion to build the chicken coop would be put forward at the next General Meeting. When Zak had this awesome idea, we thought if people believed it, they would come to the meeting to try and vote it down, which they should do anyway (although only a minority of residents actually bother to show up), and we would all have a good laugh. Turns out that a few people spent a good deal of time researching the issue. I guess it was just plausible enough to be believable. We were a bit afraid of their reaction, but so far people seem to think it was all good, clean fun. Which it was.

Now, goats, on the other hand…. Just kidding.

Meet my new best friend

Several months ago, the City of Vancouver started offering residential composting pickup services. Unfortunately, because we live in a multi-family dwelling, we were not eligible. However, while investigating the issue, Zak started looking into what services we could get if we convinced our neighbours to pay for it. He talked about it with neighbours and the Board of Directors, then a friend took over ironing out the kinks when Zak became too busy with his new status of father-of-two. And last week, after less than a year (believe me, it’s fast-moving for a Coop) our nice, new composting bins arrived.

Our brand new compost bins...

Our brand new compost bins...

And yes, compost is my new best friend. We knew that most of our garbage was compostable, and we tried to keep a worm composter on our deck, but worms tend to be slightly finicky (they won’t eat potatoes or too much acidic fruit, or…) and they just couldn’t keep up with our production, so we slowly gave up, although it broke our hearts. Now in the past week we have reduced our garbage output by… I would say about 90%! It’s amazing the range of things you can compost, from paper muffin cups to tissue paper (and yes, I have a cold) to food scraps, on top of, of course, all our fruit and veggie peelings. The only thing we are not composting is meat; the company we deal with allows it, but the Coop has decided to ban meat as a compromise with people who were afraid that the compost would stink too much.

We don’t eat much meat anyway, so our garbage for the week went something like: bits of chicken skin and fat (from 2 chicken breasts), salmon skin and packaging, and a few plastic wrappers that were not recyclable. We are now converting our garbage can into a compost bin and our compost bin into a garbage can. We have a 4 litre compost bin and we have filled it up to the brim every day. That is how much garbage is not going to the landfill anymore because one family has compost. Granted, not everyone eats as much produce as we do, but still, can you imagine if everyone had easy access to compost and cared enough to use it?

For now, the composting system is voluntary in our coop. But I could see a day when it could become mandatory. In an effort to encourage composting, the City of Vancouver has recently hiked up the price of garbage removal by 18%, and it is slated to go up again (a lot) in the near future. Meanwhile, the price of composting is being locked in. That might soon become a huge incentive. Of course, people in our building seem to have enough trouble as it is with recycling (we often find plastics in the paper, or more recently, an ashtray full of cigarette butts!) so who knows what would happen to our compost. But I am optimistic.

Earth Day!

What will you do for Earth Day?

As I am writing this post, I can feel a baby rumbling inside my tummy, which kinda puts things into perspective. I will soon have two children – which in itself may not be perceived as very environmental. But I feel like my mission is to raise them in such a way that they will contribute to making the Earth a better place for everyone to live on. I want to raise green citizens. Really, I am hoping that one of my children will be the one to discover the solution everyone has been looking for – be it for green transportation, environmental ways to grow enough food for everyone, you name it, there are plenty of solutions to find!

Wait, I take that back. If we wait for one of my kids to be old enough to find those solutions, we’ll already be in so much trouble it won’t be much good anymore. We need to change our habits faster than that – like, last year. And I’m working on it!

In the last few years, we completely gave up on plastic grocery bags. On the rare occasion when I forget my reusable bag, I feel so guilty I often end up buying a new fabric bag. I have been clothing my son almost entirely with second-hand clothes. I don’t own a car and travel by foot and bike as much as possible. We just subscribed to a CSA, which will allow us to receive fresh, organic vegetables grown right here in Vancouver, all summer long. We do not buy farmed salmon. We favor local produce. We unplug everything that doesn’t need to be plugged. We have a worm compost on our balcony, where we will also be growing all sorts of veggies in containers this summer. I live in a small apartment right next to my workplace, which I walk to every morning. We use cloth diapers, wipes and fabric swim diapers. We use no bleach or harsh cleaning products (replaced by vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice). We don’t have a TV – instead we go out and play. We avoid cheap plastic toys, buying mostly wooden toys or second-hand stuff, and making sure that they will be used and last for a while. We borrow books from the library. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Of course, there is still a lot we could do better. We still kinda long for a car on days when the Car Co-op pisses us off for a reason or another. I throw away the occasional recyclable product when it is dirty beyond recognition or full of green stuff I don’t want to have to fight against. I could bike more (although I found out yesterday that this will have to wait until August, as my bump is now getting in the way). I take a plane on a long ride every year, and I am not willing to stop. We occasionally buy fruits that have traveled halfway across the globe to get into our plates (oh, yummy mangoes!). I have a cat, whose poop needs to be thrown away in plastic bags, and we now have fish, who use a lot of water when you consider the water changes needed (especially right now when we have an algae bloom). I could use less water when I do dishes. I should exercise more. I should volunteer or do more good in my community. I should donate more money to charities.

So my resolution for Earth Day, this year, is this: I will try to improve my behavior as a green and community-minded citizen, and when I need an extra boost of motivation, I will ask myself “What does my child(ren) see me do? What will they take away from it? How can I be a better role model?”

How about you?

Biking…

I rediscovered biking last year. When our son got old enough and had a head big enough to wear a helmet and be parked be in a trailer, we bought ourselves some brand new bikes and some top-notch equipment, and went a-riding.

At first, I was elated. I felt like the child in me had come back, the 12-year-old who loved to go biking around her neighborhood. And I still enjoy our rides when the going is good.

The problem is:  we live at the bottom of a hill. A big hill. Since we have bikes and no car, we have decided to use them for transportation as much as possible so we save on booking cars from the Car Co-op and help the environment a little. That’s why we biked to our son’s birthday with 40 pounds of gear. That’s why last weekend, we biked to a friend’s house for a birthday party. It was about a 10 km ride, or more precisely 19 km round-trip.

But biking is hard. On the way to our friend’s place, it was almost all up, all the time. And I don’t really love suffering. Granted, afterward, I felt proud. Proud that I did it, proud that I didn’t need a car, proud that I didn’t spend a penny or waste a drop in gas, proud that I didn’t have to go to the gym after… I like the fact that I can use my bike to travel. But I can’t say I enjoy the ride when it’s hard. Of course, I liked the way back a lot better…

Tomorrow we’re planning on making it to another friend’s place. The ride is about 10km as well and we have never been that way, so we’re not sure exactly how hard it will be. It scares me, but then, what’s the worse that could happen? I have a lot of small gears, I can always stop and rest, I can always walk up the hill if I have to (although I would have to endure a bit of ridicule). And I know that after I will be proud and happily tired. But during… Well, let’s just not think about it!

Earth Run

Sunday morning, we headed to Stanley Park for Earth Run. The turn out was quite disappointing, but not unexpected when you consider that the race started at 8 am (registration was at 7, although we got there at 7:50 and barely made it before the start of the race). I suspect the early start was due to the fact that the MS race was happening around the same area a bit later in the morning. Not sure if it was due to bad planning on the part of the Earth run organizers or if it shows the importance devoted to Earth day…

So we had to rush like crazy to make it, and we were not even able to do the whole 5 km as we were with two other families with toddlers and in between the ones who wanted to walk (very slowly and mostly in the wrong direction), the one who fell in a mud puddle (ours of course) and the one who wanted to stop for a snack, we were so far behind the rest that we were strongly suggested to take a few shortcuts so people could clean up behind us. When we made it to the end (not all that far behind the last of the participants), there was almost no food and no goodies bag left.

Luckily, the weather was gorgeous and we were in good company, so we still had fun despite the disappointing event. The kids played at the playground after and we were able to catch up with our friends. One of them is pregnant again and due in July – her son will be 23 months old when the new one arrives. She walked with us despite being tired (and 20 pounds heavier than normal) and she’s still in a pretty good shape! The three boys were really cute and played very well together. And we made it there and back on our bikes without Zak having pain in his knee, which bares well for the future – let’s just hope I don’t jinx it by saying I hope he’s on the mend!