Apr 8, 2014 -

How To Move a Mountain

Spring seems to have finally sprung in southern Saskatchewan! But, really, I have idea why I’m so wintered out. Compared to winter in about 95% of the rest of the continent, winter here was easy. I don’t even feel like I ‘survived’ a winter living in an RV in southern Saskatchewan.

Today’s high was about 20C/68F and I made it a point to spend several hours on my property tackling the huge pile of sand and stone on which I plan to park Miranda when I move back in a couple of weeks. Power should be going in around April 20th (delayed because of one last, unforeseen, cold snap) and the RM says they can likely open my water tap around May 1st, so my return to Haven is coming up fast!

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Looking south. The broom on the left indicates where I want the driver’s side rear bumper to go. This would give me enough room between the RV and the tree line to move around on that side and also give me light through the front driver’s side kitchen and living room windows.

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Looking north. You can see how much I’ve raked out and that the area is nowhere near level. The darker spot represents an hour of work!

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Queen of the gravel pile.

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Standing on top of the gravel pile looking north.

It’s a formidable task to move all that material by hand and I will likely have to hire someone with a tractor to finish the job for me as I am running out of time. How do you move a mountain? One shovel at a time… I started by raking out as much as I could, but I now have to move what’s left using a shovel and wheelbarrow.

I’m disappointed with the material, which should have been crushed gravel, but it’s what I have to work with.  I’m trying to spread it evenly over a very large area so as to give me a dry solid surface around the RV for accessing the compartments, emptying tanks, doing maintenance, etc.  I’m hoping that the dirt will sink and the rocks will rise to the surface, as has happened on the pile over the winter.

The other thing I need to coordinate is the moving of my buildings. In an ideal world, I would have a level spread of gravel and a foundation all ready for them, but that’s not going to happen. Charles suggests that I focus on getting them weather tight this year and next year we can jack them up properly. I’m still hoping to get out to where they are right now to get some measurements so I can determine exactly where I want to put them. Oh, and I have trees to chop, too. Whew!

I’ve worked really hard this winter and I’m looking forward to slacking a little on the typing hours and spending some time working the property now that the weather is nicer. I’ve got a mountain of work ahead of me, but I’m focusing on just one task at a time and relishing the slight ache of muscles that haven’t done enough all winter and are happy to be productive again.

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Mar 21, 2014 -

Gambles

The late winter and early spring of 2004 has been on my mind lately. It was the time that I was turning 25, a bigger milestone for me than 20 had been. 35 is coming up fast and it feels more significant to me than 30 did.

2004 was the late winter/early spring that I gravely injured my right hand, had a bad car accident (again, not even remotely my fault), learned that I was going to be an aunt for the first time, and took what was probably the biggest gamble of my life up to that point.

I was working at what I still think was my dream job as the “office administrator/whatever they needed me to do because I was trained for absolutely everything including the outdoor jobs” for a private company managing the recreational services of a national park.

No two days were ever the same. I could be balancing the books one day and the next be on snowshoes marking a new trail through the wilderness.

The problem was that I was overworked, unappreciated, and really underpaid. Any one of those alone I could have handled, but combined I knew that it was time to get out of there get a ‘grown up’ job, ie. one that I didn’t like much but which would pay well.

So I had started to apply for jobs with the federal government. It was sometime in late February or early March of 2004 that I was asked to interview for a position I had applied for nearly a year before.

The initial testing went well and then came an interview that took most of a day and involved role playing. I was a timid creature back then with zero self esteem and yet the minute I picked up the first fake call I knew I had the job.

It took weeks for the confirmation to come through, to set a start date, and to have an idea of when the first paycheque would come, but before any of that gelled, I took a gamble.

I was driving a beat up old car (that was even worse for wear after the accident) and I decided to buy myself a brand new car for my 25th birthday, my first Hyundai Accent (which I liked more than my second even if it was an odd looking thing).

To this day, I have no idea how I got the financing on it because there was absolutely no way I could afford the payments! But the first payment on it would be mid-May, around the time that I would get a first paycheque from the government job… if I got the job, of course.

Everything fell into place, the way it does when it’s meant to be, and I never had any trouble making payments on that sweet little car.

It’s hard to reconcile how much I’ve done and seen with the smallness of time that has passed since that spring, with the only tangible evidence of it being the hard little knot of scar tissue on the pad of my right ring finger that is finally starting to soften a little.

But in that span of time I moved to a second government job, bought a house, lost my dad, quit the government, took off on the adventure of a lifetime, and saw more of the continent than that bitter girl of 25 ever dared dreamed she’d see.

I wish I could go back and tell that angry girl I used to be just how brave she was as she accepted the keys to her new car. Little did she know they were the keys that would open up her world and bring her to the life she’d always wanted but was convinced she did not deserve.

I’ve taken a lot of gambles since then, and each one gets easier and is less breathtaking. The first plunge is always the hardest and the real gamble I took in 2004 wasn’t buying the car. It was daring to see a future that was more open than the confines of the present. That’s a lesson that has obviously stayed with me.

But I’m not contemplating any gambles on this cold second day of spring of 2014. My life is plugging along just the way I want it to and I feel a confidence in my future that used to elude me.

Power is going into Haven in the next week or two, if the weather will just cooperate (earlier than expected, but it’s what works best for the electrician), so provided I can get the gravel smoothed out quickly, I could be back on my property within three weeks (!).

I’m casually shopping for a new-to-me RV (tiny bumper pull trailer), exploring both RV and non-RV travel options for next winter, planning summer trips, and working insane hours at a business that went from struggling to thriving in the span of a winter.

I definitely don’t need to be taking any gambles right now.

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Mar 13, 2014 -

Kiss of the Zephyr

Spring seems to be settling into southern Saskatchewan even as the eastern part of the continent is still getting pounded by snow.

The weather has been mild here for days, the wind almost gentle, and the snow is vanishing rapidly. Spring in rural southern Saskatchewan is very icy, muddy, and smelly.

With longer and warmer days, my energy levels are peaking and I cannot wait to get back outside and work on my property. It’s been a long winter of typing at my desk and I am eager to spend more time outside, working the kinks out of dormant muscles.

It’s nice to be back in temperatures where the electric heaters are sufficient to keep the rig very cozy. I tend to wake up every time the furnace goes off and therefore need very long nights to make up for the broken sleep. Not having needed the furnace in about a week, I’m seeing my sleep needs go down dramatically. Couple that with the extra hours of sunshine and I’m slowly shifting back into summer mode of needing less sleep and getting up earlier.

I’m six to eight weeks away from moving Miranda back to Haven, where I’ll be able to assess the damage from the winter. I know for certain I have some roof leaks to attend to. I also need to empty out all my cabinets and make sure there isn’t any mould in the corners from melted frost. During one cold spell, I actually found clothing frozen to the back of the wardrobe!

It feels like a lifetime since I moved here in October and it’s good to be thinking of moving again in terms of weeks, not months. And yet, the time has flown by. It’s been a very insular winter and I am so eager and ready to get back out into the World.

That starts tomorrow, as I’m heading up to Stettler, Alberta, for a much needed long weekend away. I can’t wait to see Donna and Ken! I’ve planned out a different route to get there, just to shake things up a bit.

We’ll see how the building move and power installation goes, but if work keeps up the way it is, I look forward to my next long weekend off at the end of May, exploring the Black Hills. It’s on my calendar, so it could happen. :)

I’m glad that so many of you are on Facebook. I’ve acquired a taste for posting updates there as it is just so quick. But I do promise to ease back into more regular posting to the blog. This hiatus was just what I needed, but I rather miss signing onto WordPress and boring you all with the mundane details of my life. :)

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