Small Pleasures – Mending

Recently, I have taken pleasure in hand sewing. In an effort to save money and a pair of my favourite jeans I decided to tackle the task of mending them myself. Armed with the knowledge of what to do through watching a few Youtube videos, I tackled the job.

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For the patches I used scrap material I had saved from another pair of jeans that had seen better days. Using an assortment of different blue threads I hand stitched the patches to the jeans. I could have done a way better job with a sewing machine but I don’t have one. I am pleased with the end result, although I know I need to add more stitches to make this repair last.

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There is something meditative about slowing down to mend something. Now, let’s hope this lasts a while.

Slowing Down – Listening to the Radio

My Mom was a huge fan of CBC radio. Growing up, we lived in northern British Columbia and the CBC connected us with other Canadians and the world. While I didn’t really actively listen to the various programs, my Mom always had it on and so it was a part of growing up. But I do remember loving Mr. Canoehead, a character that was a regular and popular feature of one of the weekly radio programs. With an aluminum canoe fused to his head through a freak accident with lightening, Mr. Canoehead is the quintessential Canadian superhero (slightly aloof, self-deprecating, and polite). The character was so popular that he was made into a television character on the CBC show 4 on the Floor, where his tag line was “Mr. Canoehead, Canada’s Greatest Alumnus Crime Fighter.” But I am off topic . . .

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As a pre-teen, I would stay up late on Sunday’s to listen to the 1930s radio show The Shadow. This radio drama, which began in the 1930s, was rebroadcast by CBC in the 1980s. Listening to this mystery-drama seemed grown-up since none of my other friends listen to it. I enjoyed the suspense and having to imagine what the characters looked like.

There is something slow about listening to the radio. You have to pay attention and engage with the words that flow out of the speakers. I don’t have a television, so I tend to get my news through social media or the radio. I prefer listening to the news since I don’t get distracted by the visuals and the plethora of commercials.

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For my birthday I was given a gift certificate for Amazon. I have been sitting on that gift for a few months now. Since moving, I have begun to listen more often to the radio. At first I was using either my phone or computer to stream CBC radio 1 live. This works but I have been wanting to get a proper radio for sometime. So last month I splurged and treated myself to a Sangean radio. Simple in its design, this radio is just what I wanted with its retro look and wood finish. I didn’t want bells and whistles or any digital features. Listening to the radio just got that more pleasurable.

My Sister is in Town

I am so excited, today my sister is in town for a quick lay-over before she heads to a conference in the states. Sans kids we are planning on going out for dinner and taking it easy.

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Sorry it is a blurry snap, it is an oldie but a goodie and I love it. I wish we lived closer (she lives in Yellowknife, NWT) but I’ll take any sister time I can get.

The Stigma of Basement Dwelling

When I began looking for places in Toronto, it dawned on me quite quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to afford the kind of apartment I had in Kingston (a two bedroom, first floor of a house with heaps of windows and a side yard). I knew I wanted to live alone and that I would be limited in many ways because of my cat, so I set out looking and quickly discovered with the rental market as it is I was going to be limited to either sketchy high-rise apartments that may or may not have unmentionable bugs or I could start looking at basements. As you can tell, I found an apartment and it happened to be a basement.

I have struggled a bit with the fact I am living in a basement. Shouldn’t I, a recent graduate with a Ph.D., be living above ground, I think to myself. Aren’t I too old to be living in a basement? Then it dawned on me, own it. To counter these thoughts I started this blog so I could write about the experience. There are enough people living in Toronto that also live in basements that there shouldn’t be any disgrace about living underground.

But then I got thinking about why there might be a stigma attached to living below ground and it dawned on me, we have so many stereotypes associated with basements. Think about it, basements are where gamers still living with their parents have their “command centres” (Live Free or Die Hard, 2007) or where kids in the 1970s hung out and got stoned (That 70s Show) or where you live when you are going through something traumatic (Robbie Hart in The Wedding Singer). There is even an urban dictionary term “mom’s basement” to deride those living at home after a certain age.

This is all malarkey. Yes, circumstances have me living in a basement and while I do fit some of the stereotypes (I am single and own a cat) that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be proud of living here and creating a home in a light-filled space that just happens to be below ground.

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Stigma be damned, I say.

Pros and Cons of Living Below Ground

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PROS                                                                 CONS

Cheaper rent                                                  Creepy Crawlies

Cool temperatures in summer                    Cool temperatures in winter [?]

Downsizing                                                           No light

Getting to be creative                                     Having to be creative

Blogging about the experience                              The stigma attached

Principles

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Is it too early on a Monday morning to talk about principles? Perhaps, but let’s take a crack at it, shall we?

I have been thinking about how I live my life and what rules or beliefs govern my personal behaviour. I am not religious but I do believe our actions have consequences. I was raised to say please and thank you, to be kind to others, and to tread lightly on this earth. This was taught by example more than doctrine.

As I move along in my life, I want to make my actions reflect those principles that were passed along to me but I want to do more. I know it is kind of trendy thing to want to live authentically but this is the direction I want to go (not to be trendy but just because it feels right). What I think the trend neglects to deal with is the personalized definition of what living authentically means on an individual level. So, as I move forward I want to cultivate and grow those principles I was raised with.

Alana’s Principles for Living an Authentic Life

  1. Be polite to everyone regardless of the shit I am dealing with personally
  2. Be kind to others, and, more significantly, to myself since I can’t be kind to others when I am not kind to myself
  3. Be considerate of the earth and my impact on it (use less, recycle more, give back in some way)
  4. Be more public-spirited and help to build a better community through my actions
  5. Be curious, ask questions, and be ready for answers I might not be comfortable with