work and play and life

i realize perhaps i go on and on about this, but it is because i am ever so grateful for community. though there was community in the city within my group of friends and its expanding circles, it is not like the community of here, not to the same magnitude or breadth. here community enfolds wee babies to friends in their 80’s. friends close enough that i consider them my surrogate mothers, aunts and grandmothers. here community is everyone knowing everyone to a certain degree, so when they see you for the first time, they say, who are you? where did you come from? and then from there you are enveloped in. instant friend, simply from being in the same vicinity. how special is that?


this past week i spent on the wee island building an 8×12′ shed that i need to house all the things i currently have in storage at my dads here on the big island. before heading over on what was to be my very first barge trip, i loaded up the truck with two water cisterns, a door, metal roofing, my bike, and extra metal flashing that dad gave me. also on the barge were a huge skid of plywood and lumber, a roll of tyvek, a roll of roof felt, a bag of concrete, a box of nails, a box of screws, rebar and two skids of insulation. the barge trip was fun and exciting that it was finally happening! everything coming together to be on the land! it was arranged that colin, the young buck (turns out he’s not that young, and doesn’t know i refer to him as this, so SHHHH) i hired to help me build/teach me how to build the shed, was going to meet me at the ramp with his truck and help me haul the stuff home. everything was going great, i got my truck off the barge, colin was there and we loaded up his truck no problem. he said he just had to go do a half hour errand at the north end, so the plan was for me to go up, unload my truck, then come back for the last load, and some point in there, he would arrive with his load. well, pretty much as soon as we took off, i noticed the brakes were spongy, then not too long after, my brake light comes on. uh huh. i managed to make it home just fine, only to find my land partners dead truck still blocking my driveway, despite saying it would be moved by the time i got there. we got nowhere with that situation as i unloaded my truck at the bottom of the hill, all the while trying to get ahold of colin (both of us having super crappy reception), to let him know that he should come drop off his load and pick up the next because i was worried about my brakes going. eventually i got a text back from him saying he was on his way. half an hour later he still wasn’t there, and when he eventually got there it turned out he had run out of gas on the way and had to run home for more. by this point it was almost two hours since we had left the barge and peter – who was waiting for us to unload the rest of the supplies. peter also had crappy reception, so despite my many attempts at calling, i was never able to get ahold of him. eventually we show up, and realize peter had just unloaded the rest himself and left it on the ramp for us. he had gotten home by that point and called us to let us know, all of us not clueing in that we could’ve just unloaded the rest of it on the ramp when we first left, thus giving peter leave. it was that sort of evening.


from there onwards, colin and i started the shed and everything went along smoothly. he was super and devoted the week to my project despite all of his other work, which i was so grateful for. i learned a lot, which i hope to put into practice soon so that i don’t lose it, and colin was really fun to work with. by day 6 (our last day) we had both gotten a little loopy from lack of a weekend break, so it was extra fun(ny), though perhaps less productive. colin likes to make up ridiculous songs about whatever he’s doing at the time, which is exactly what emma and i did on our long paddling trip, so i got a total kick out of it. at one point he was telling me what angle to cut the rafters at, which he thought was 28 degrees. so i was cutting them, but they weren’t working out perfectly, so he re-measured. turns out they needed to be 27 degrees, and he said, ‘who uses odd numbered angles?’ at which i pointed my finger at him, and said ‘you do’. i told him it should be on his business card – the contractor who does odd numbers. which we both realized would be perfect for him, considering his singing. earlier i was asking him about whether he worries about dropping things on his toes at work, because he wears those vibram five-finger toe shoes. he basically said no, he wasn’t worried about it, and said safety was #3 on his list. so i asked what the list was. #1 look good, #2 have fun, #3 be safe. of course he was kidding, but i thought it was hilarious that having fun wasn’t at the top of the list, and i suggested this be on his business card too. we managed to do a great job in a week, getting the roofing on the day before it rained all evening – first serious rain in months, and now all that is left to do next visit is hang the door, put on the ridge cap, and finish insulating the inside and putting up the plywood on the walls. i also want to build a couple of rows of shelving before hauling everything over.


the leak in the brakes is from where the top line enters the proportioning valve

in the midst of all the building, i spent my quiet time reading in the hammock or chopping firewood. i loved the juxtaposition of the hammock next to the woodpile, it represented to me the perfect balance of work and play. how it feels life should be. it’s definitely something having so much land/room to play with. i’ve never had that before, and it’s super fun to have areas that i do things in. kind of like having rooms in a house. the outhouse bucket is down in the gully, the cooking area is set up on a pallet under a tree, the shower bag is out in front of the shack, the hammock is under a tarp beside a growing woodpile, and the tent under another tarp farther out.


saturday morning before colin and i started work i hitched to the market for some food. that was one great thing about the truck not running, i pretty much hitched everywhere i wanted to go, which led to much more community interaction. and as we know, community interaction brings me joy. i did intend to bike to the market that morning, but it started to rain right as i was about to leave, and i was concerned about getting back in time to work. it was a good reminder to not forget about hitching even when i get my truck running again. so, of all the unexpected things, at the market i ran into the very first dance teacher i had in winnipeg. what?!! she said to me, ‘what are you doing here?!’ but i thought it was more appropriate for me to be asking her that! turns out she was on island for three weeks for a dance residency, and that night there was an open dance space up at the studio, so after work i decided to go check it out and get a little more visiting time in with her. hitching there that evening i got a ride with fabienne! fabienne is an old old friend who lived on the island about 14 years ago, but now lives back in belgium, her home country. she also now has a seven year old son, who so far speaks only french. it was lovely spending time with them and being immersed in the french language. the evening was fun and inspiring. there are always so many off-islanders that flock to events such as these, and meeting a bunch of them for the first time was a riot. there were about six of them sitting around the table and one asked me how i came to the island for the first time. i said i happened to come for a rave in 1997. and someone said, who did you come with? i said, my friend jenny. then: how did you know jenny? she was my neighbour. where was your house? it wasn’t actually a house, it was a motorhome i was renting from my dad. and it continued on from there. and i loved it. i loved the energy of meeting all of these playful people at once. that was the biggest joy i got out of the evening – the sense of play. how important this is in life. the next day i headed down to carson’s to go for a short paddle with him before he had to start work for the day. i was hoping we could paddle all the way to the ferry, where he was working, but pretty much as soon as we got down to the water the wind picked up, and it was a headwind, so we just took it easy and figured we’d get as far as we could. we decided to check out a small bay with an old mine shaft in it that he’d been to before. at the mouth of the bay a small fast catamaran was anchored and we were guessing at who might live on it. he suggested a woman named matilda, and i thought a man named walter, and they had a small fluffy white dog named snowy. so we paddled up to the house and yelled hello for a bit until some folks came down. we asked if it was ok to check out the mine and they said sure, but invited us up for coffee first. turns out the man’s name was jack, and he had a son named philip, and two friends visiting named leanne and alex. they also had a big black lab. they were lovely and we shot the shit for awhile until jack’s son conrad came in and introductions began again. jack introduced me and then said to carson, ‘and your name was patrick?’ and carson said ‘no, but that’s ok, you can call me patrick and i’ll call you walter.’ and i just burst out laughing.


we left shortly after to check out the mine, which we’d need more time and a flashlight to check out any further, then continued on to the next bay where carson wanted to leave the canoe and hitch to work. we met later that evening to paddle it home, along with one of the guys -luke- from the dance residency. the swells were gentle and at our back, and the phosphorescence came out to twinkle at us a tiny bit before we reached land again. we had just gotten in when john burst in the door, yelling. so. colin is john’s neighbour, and rents his old house, which is next to the house that john and carson currently live in. there is a road between the two houses, that runs beside the garden. everyone collects their pee to save for their gardens, and john and colin have an ongoing debate as to what size of bucket they should be using. john thinks smaller is better, partly because the strength of the nitrogen decreases the longer it sits, but colin adamantly keeps a 5 gallon bucket and fills it to the top before taking it down to the garden. so john is riding his bike home, it’s around 10pm and he’s got no light on and he slams right into colin’s pee bucket, which colin so thoughtfully left in the middle of the road. colin’s logic was that it was right in the middle of the road, so it would be obvious. mmm hmmm. john hits the bucket, spraying colins pee all over himself, and then falls off his bike, landing in it. this is the reason he bursts in the door yelling, the smell of ripe pee hot on his trail.

the next day i end up not getting on the ferry i intended to because of a huge line-up and lack of boarding pass, but fabienne and her friend and son were there seeing off another friend, so i spent the next few hours with them, walking around downtown and visiting. we went up to check out the new house that daniel is building. this is where john is currently working, and he showed up soon after we got there. we had a short visit with him as we were sitting in the sun eating lunch, then he went off to work with daniel, but as he nears the house he turns around and yells ‘oh, and colin thought it was hilarious that i hit the bucket.’ so of course i have to tell fabienne and birte about it, and then because her son doesn’t speak english, she translates it for him. and each time, so it goes, the story keeps getting funnier and funnier.


returning home i now have about a month before i plan to move the bus over, and there is so much to do! i need to figure out where to park my car on this side, where to stay when i come over to work, get another charge controller for a bigger solar system, get more building supplies, get more solar panels (maybe), figure out a water filtration system, figure out more ways to catch water, look into an on-demand tankless water heater, figure out if my bus will fit on peters barge and the logistics of getting all of my stuff back into the bus while still needing to live in it… the list feels a bit endless and daunting, but despite all that, there is always time for family.  it was max’s birthday yesterday and we all went out to celebrate. what a bunch of goons we all are together. i love it. as we were waiting for dinner to arrive, sheldon brought up deep-fried mars bars, so everyone got it into their heads that they wanted deep-fried desserts. being a non-sugar eater i wasn’t getting nearly as excited as everyone else, but i sure did love watching them eat those crispy sweet treats later. i can live pretty vicariously through watching.


checking out the deep-fried dessert selections


the non-blood family



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