August 4th, 2010

This incredible feat was accomplished by the amazing Kaylee Hunt, who was following the directions on page 1: “This is an inconvenience. Take This Is Not A Book everywhere you go for one week. You must place it in full view at all times.” Congratulations Kaylee!

August 2nd, 2010

This has been a bit of a long time in coming, you may remember the short film The Winter of the Dance which was a short film done by my husband Jeff Pitcher and Mike Schwartz that received critical acclaim and was featured at several film festival including Palm Springs, Sonoma Valley, Nashville and Anne Arbour. Not to mention it developed a bit of a cult following online after it was featured on Current TV (many of my readers went crazy for it, because you wrote me about it.)

Well I have some great news…their next film is finally complete! This one will make you laugh, cry, be shocked and remind you what is important in your life! (I will boast that yours truly did shoot a couple of scenes, namely my husband riding a bike, (a total of a few seconds of my work made it into the final cut). So I got to fulfill a tiny dream to film something (I’m not the greatest at it but I try). Yes the cover is by me too. I should also mention that luckily our finances of improved greatly since the shooting, the trailer talks about how we were broke at the time, this was before “Wreck this Journal” came out.)

Here is the synopsis:

The Winter of the Beard (99 Minutes)

In the fall of 2005, two filmmakers invited six men across America to join them in an experiment. They would stop shaving for six months. No trimming allowed. Each was provided a video camera and weekly interview questions to document his own experience. The resulting 600 hours of intimate footage revealed a group of men traversing the same rite of passage from disparate vantage points. Throughout the process, the men told stories from their pasts, shared likes and dislikes, and confessed personal fears and aspirations. They laughed and cried, hid and came alive behind their beards. The tireless taping captured bad days and good ones, and it is in this framework that the individual stories stand out and the beards fade into the background. From a son dealing with his father’s descent into Alzheimer’s, to financial and marital struggles, to the birth of a child, THE WINTER OF THE BEARD reveals the trials and tribulations of what it means to drastically alter one’s appearance and otherwise go on living life.

watch the trailer

purchase it here, (only $15 shipping included.) We are trying to figure out a way so you can purchase a download, but for the time being we only have a hardcopy.

These men and their families are all very close to my heart. I think you will fall in love with them too.

July 30th, 2010

i live by this. i post it in case you haven’t seen this one before.

July 15th, 2010

this is a view from our deck.

this is first day I actually feel normal again. more like myself. the new world around me does not seem so foreign and strange. i see glimpses of what it might be like to actually settle in. it was very challenging to plan for such a huge change for so long only to arrive and feel like someone hit you over the head with a truck. I searched in vain for deep breaths, my center was nowhere to be seen.

I have found them again. in little bits and pieces scattered here and there.

I think a list is in order.

things that are great about the west coast, noticed by me in the first week here:

1. the ocean air. I have had several very deep sleeps (the first I have had since I gave birth to my son over two years ago.) vivid dreams too.
2. my skin! it feels so incredible, not dry like usual. soft and moist.
3. the produce. I had an apricot that was to die for yesterday. great corn for dinner tonight.
4. everyone is so fit here, it seeps into your consciousness and makes you want to get out and move your body.
5. the flowers. my god the gardens bring tears to your eyes! I have stopped to smell so many flowers it’s amazing really.
6. the naam. my new favorite restaurant.
7. the totems. spent a morning at the museum of anthropology. highlights were the totems, the drums, and watching my son listen to headphones.
8. seeing the ocean every day.
9. foraging in the tide pools.
10. being invited to a party on our street with several other two year olds in attendance!

July 13th, 2010

we have landed in the land of incredible views and good food, though not without a few bumps. a mere 48 hours after our arrival my husband and I contracted some terrible food poisoning or viral thing which caused us to be very sick for a good 24 hours. It’s amazing how intimate you can become with a new apartment when you lie on the floor in the bathroom for a whole day. Unfortunately we became dehydrated which caused us to lose consciousness frequently and sent my husband to the emergency room as he was just slightly worse off than I and I had to make sure my son was okay. Jeff was tested for various things but there still has been no official diagnosis. It must of been quite bad as his blood pressure was so low they were concerned about heart failure. We are both doing fine now.

Trust me when I say it was horrible but we are thanking the gods (and still praying every hour to be honest) that Tilden is healthy and did not get it (we will feel better the more time passes). Thank the gods for my sister, who nursed us through the whole ordeal (and then came down with it herself the next day). She is doing fine now, we are still not sure if it was due to a shared meal or if it was contagious. And we are also thanking the gods for our new landlord who happily drove Jeff to the hospital late a night without batting an eye. What would we do without people to help us in this life?

Needless to say, we have not been exploring as much as we had hoped upon our arrival. Deep Cove is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life. It is quite shocking to walk outdoors and see the water and the mountains right there. There is a woods right across the street and I have been in a few times. I can already see Emily Carr’s painting come to life. It is so different for me to be under such tall trees, the canopy so high above my head. The movement of sound is also so very different, much more reverberation, it is harder to pinpoint the direction of the sounds. And the shapes of the trees, so gnarled and parasitic. Jeff described it well when he said the west coast woods are much more Jurrassic. You can almost picture baby dinosaurs crawling out from the roots of the trees.

The whole experience caused me to be hyper paranoid about food preparation and eating anything, (we had to throw everything out, $200 worth.) It was really hard to not know what caused it. I had to scour the kitchen in case it was bacterial, and we must wash our hands constantly in case it is viral.

We are hoping that tomorrow we will be able to take our first real adventure as a family. We really need it. I need to do something light and normal feeling.

I am channeling the spirit of Emily Carr tonight so that her energy can heal my tired soul. The ocean air and the trees are helping immensely.

(this post was partially excerpted from an email sent to friends. I realized I didn’t have the energy write another account of the ordeal. so there it is. will post some photos soon. you must see what a beautiful place I am living in.)

June 17th, 2010

Internet access will be sporadic for the next few weeks. I’ll be checking in when I can.

Part of me really enjoys that feeling of being homeless for a time.

In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.
William Blake

Here’s to going through those doors.

What will be on the other side?

June 16th, 2010

(found image: from Fundamental Concepts of Biology, “Foraminifera”)

I have been so enjoying all your suggestions in the last few posts, so many great ideas/items. Thank you. My life will be more sustainable (and minimal) because of you.

Things are winding down here as we prepare to take a trip to Ontario to visit friends and family for a few days. One more day of clean up and we are off. It’s a bit overwhelming making so many life changes all at once. But I am trusting the universe to send me in the right direction.

I am on the last chapter of the book “Anticancer” by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber and I have not been able to put it down. This book has helped me put together an extensive healing plan, and while my lifestyle will not change that drastically (particularly in the nutrition department where I am doing quite well) I will be adding a few more things to my healing arsenal. Namely, a regular meditation regiment, which I used to do, but have let slide since my son was born. If you have anyone in your life with cancer, or just want to be preventative yourself I HIGHLY recommend this book. It is based on the mind-body model, but offers all of the science to back it up. The author was a fairly traditional conventional doctor, until he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Which got him to begin exploring a variety of healing methods to work in conjunction with and in aid to western medicine. He speaks largely of working on your “terrain”, which is basically your body’s ability to deal with and eliminate cancerous cells (everyone has the potential for cancer but not everyone develops it due to their terrain).

After losing my own mother to a brain tumor many years ago, this book has helped me to “make peace” with cancer as much as possible. This is something I have needed to do, and it has helped me to understand exactly how it is no longer something to be feared, but definitely “managed”, and in many instances cured (they use this language reservedly in the book, but I believe it to be true.) After reading it I have become actually excited about my ability to heal and grateful for all of the things my own experience is bringing up, (places that need to be healed).

I share this here because I know there are many of you dealing with challenging stuff health wise and maybe you will find the book as empowering as I have.

June 14th, 2010

In doing a bit of research on this topic I discovered a rather ironic twist. It seems that the birth of America’s Disposable culture began right smack dab in the town where I currently reside (for a week more), you guessed it, Troy NY. Here is a bit of history:

Hannah Montague of Troy wearied of having to wash her husband Orlando’s shirts when only the collar was dirty. So one day in 1827, she snipped off a collar, laundered it, and then sewed it back on, creating the world’s first detachable collar. Recognizing the business opportunity stemming from his wife’s ingenuity, Orlando opened a factory overlooking the Hudson that produced collars, dickeys, and cuffs. Soon, factories started making these shirt pieces out of paper. In 1872, 150 million paper shirt collars and cuffs were produced in the U.S., and by 1886 more than 8,000 workers were employed in the trade in Troy alone.

you can read the full article here. I have lived in “collar city” for six years now, never knowing it was the harbinger of a bad, long lasting trend.

So many of you have written with your thoughts and ideas on the matter, and I am excited to see there seems to be a movement of people who want to only own objects that a) have meaning, b) are long lasting and c) contribute to sustainability in some way.

We have figured out that there is much beauty to be had in living minimally. In paring down our clothes (all of mine now fit mostly into a regular sized suitcase), I have learned how greatly it simplifies your whole existence. There are not enough things to overwhelm you, laundry is a breeze, you don’t have too many choices to make when dressing in the morning, and mostly you feel “lighter”, (especially when moving). Think about what it would be like to live as if you were travelling, able to fit most of your belongings into a car. If I get something new, the rule is it has to replace something else.

Some other objects to consider (some have been mentioned in the comments already):

-pens. I have decided to begin using only refillable pens, if you have any suggestions that are good for drawing let me know. A few years ago I was using the rotring Art pen, but I found over time it clogged badly and I had to replace it. I am wondering about the “piston fill converter” for it. I’m willing to give it another go.

-reusable fabric maxi pads. I like these quite well, and there are so many to choose from now.

-many people wrote about Cydwoq shoes. My husband and I wear these as our main footwear (yes they are expensive, we only have a few pairs of shoes to our name). They last for at least ten years, you only need to replace the soles now and then. If you call the company, the phone is often answered by the owner Rafi. Someone also mentioned Trippen shoes from Germany.

-razors. A generous reader is sending my husband a Merkur razor (he had an extra one lying around), lucky for us.

-there are some excellent long lasting items to be had at Mr. Lees General Store and Haberdashery in Vancouver (perfect timing).

-Shepherd’s Dream wool mattresses. Portable, earth friendly, non-toxic, completely sustainable, and they can last a lifetime. These answer all of my needs.


-I love my le creuset dutch oven which I got on sale at Winners many years ago. These pots you can hand down to your grandchildren. I do 99 % of my cooking in it.

-While on the subject of cooking, there is an excellent minimal list of “all the kitchen stuff you need” in the beginning of “The Art of Simple Food” by Alice Waters. Basically I have adopted the same kitchen system. We have three knives that do everything, a bread knife, a large cutting knife and a paring knife. Given the amount of cooking I do (every day) I can tell you it functions beautifully.

a resource to peruse:

-Everett Brogue wrote an ebook called The Art of Being Minimalist. I have only read the 30 page preview, but I like what I saw.

-this is an excellent guide to living plastic free.

keep the ideas coming! I think I’m going to put together a resource guide (once I’m settled that is). All of these suggestions are too good.

June 13th, 2010

To be fully human, people ought to have as authentic a relationship as possible with others. They should know that in their deepest being they are intrinsically free to reconstruct and transform themselves, and they need to grant others the same powerful freedom.

David Spiegel, M.D.
(found in the book Anticancer by David Servan-Schreiber)

June 11th, 2010

After I gave birth to my son I bought a brown printed dress to accommodate my size at the time. I loved the dress but now it just feels too big and frumpy on me. So I hauled out my old portable Sears/Kenmore circa 1960 sewing machine and fashioned the dress into a skirt. And I made a hair scarf with the extra fabric. My, I am pleased with myself for doing that. Don’t you love it when you make something new out of something you were going to give away? And the smell of the old sewing machine! How I have missed that smell, it brought me back to summers at the cottage with my mom sewing up new green jumpsuits for my sister and I.

We’ve been having a lot of conversations on the disposability of our current culture and how people don’t really (or aren’t able) to repair things anymore. This issue comes up as we pack our things and ask the question “what do we really need/use?” So in our house we are making an attempt to only purchase items that will last for years and years and are capable of being repaired (hopefully by us), and that we love.

This may sound easy, but it can be challenging given that many items are now designed to be disposable (razors, appliances, technology to name a few). It can take a bit of work to seek out items that will last a lifetime, but I feel it is an important and worthy endeavor. My husband is currently researching the old fashioned razors, which are $65 at the low end, but the replacement blades run around 15 cents (as opposed to paying over 10 dollars for a package of 6 replacement blades for the modern day versions). The handle itself will last for the rest of your life. The simplicity of this is a beautiful thing.

Other items that we have acquired that can last for many years and/or be repaired, leather shoes, wool mattresses, wool bedding, hemp clothing, bicycles, canvas quilts, cast iron pans/pots, canvas bags, the 1960′s sewing machine, guitars, amplifier, wooden furniture and more. Interestingly these are all things that we love and care for on a regular basis and in turn we enjoy using them so much more than things that are not designed to last. There is a solidity to them, they are often more tactile (feel good in the hand), and the necessary process of caring for them (oiling them, or cleaning them) causes us to be mindful and appreciate them on a regular basis. This leads to greater enjoyment in the long run.

If only the technology realm would get into this. What about making wooden “cases” that hold laptop components, so you could keep the same case for years and just replace the innards? Or some kind of permanent “shells” for cell phone parts.

If you have any experiences with objects that last, or some suggestions for alternatives to disposablity please feel free to share them in the comments above.

Ad Free