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Posts Tagged ‘Simplicity’

Boat#3

“Fishing Boats at Sea”, by Claude Monet, 1868

As elders, sailing on this uncharted sea, we need all the help we can get! Here are some of my favourite quotations to help us navigate the waters.

Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.

Seneca, Roman Stoic philosopher, 4 BCE-65 CE

Don’t die before you’re dead.

Rachel Wolchin, American writer

It ain’t over till it’s over.

—Yogi Berra, American baseball player, 1925-2015

I’ve had a ball. And as I get older, I just become an older kid.

Jonathan Winters, American actor/comedian, 1925-2013

For those of us who have endured (and survived!) long enough to be called “elders”, sometimes there is a need for encouragement. Fortitude is a word which comes to mind, and strength. These are two attributes that help us to keep on, one step at a time.

Here’s a video of a beautiful, inspiring, and graceful elder, Maia Helles, a retired ballet dancer. Filmed at her cottage on Fire Island in the U.S. when Maia was ninety-five years of age, it shows some of the exercises she practiced regularly.

Maia passed away in 2016 at the age of ninety-nine, leaving a wonderful legacy of hope and encouragement.

It may seem cloyingly upbeat, but this blog’s stated purpose is to “focus on the good”, and on the positive. Years ago, when some health challenges came into my life, I decided to do whatever I could to be my own best coach, my own best advocate. I do experience setbacks on my “positivity” journey at times, and have to get back on track with gentle but firm reminders to myself (and with much patience from my husband!).

A dear friend once said to me, while we were on a brisk exercise walk in the neighbourhood, “Just keep walking, Val!” She meant that I should keep walking rather than stopping to look at gardens every few feet! We were supposed to be exercising, after all. As it turns out, I frequently say those words to myself, especially when experiencing the occasional bout of loss of balance. Boarding city buses can be challenging at times, so I use the mantra, “Just keep walking, Val!”, to gain momentum as I climb aboard.

“Counting” also helps, particularly when going up or down stairs. Just plain counting, 1-2-3 etc., provides a steady rhythm, a sense of security, especially to those of us who have challenges with our vision. Better to count silently to oneself than to take a tumble!

In the depths of winter, I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.

—Albert Camus, French philosopher, author, & journalist, 1913-1960

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Forget-me-not flowers in our back garden. I love their simplicity.

Take Heart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“In crochet you hear no needles clicking. It’s like the sound of one hand clapping.”

—Val Bjarnason

Crochet: noun: needlework in which yarn is looped into pattern of stitches by means of hooked needle.

verb: make in or do crochet.

—The Oxford Dictionary of Current English (1991)

A calming, soothing, magical craft, crochet is a meditation in itself. Creating useful and beautiful items for others to enjoy is a bonus.

I love the process of crocheting. It’s been a daily part of my life for many years. Crochet is portable: just a ball of yarn, a hook, and a bag to carry it in is all you need. So simple!

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

—Aldo Leopold

Rather than using synthetic yarns, I crochet with natural ones, organically produced whenever possible. Organic hemp, cotton and wool are my favourites. Acrylic and polyester fibres are ending up in our waterways, flushed there whenever we wash items made from them. Acrylics are not biodegradable, and tiny fibres end up being ingested by animals, birds, amphibians, and creatures which live in the oceans, lakes and rivers. I avoid synthetic yarns.

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

—William Morris

Woollen Tea Cozy by Val ©soleil crochet on etsy.com

Woollen Tea Cozy by Val
©soleil crochet on etsy.com

Air Plant Nest by Val ©soleilcrochet on etsy.com

Hemp Air Plant Nest by Val
©soleilcrochet on etsy.com

The “Air Plant Nest”, pictured above, has been crocheted using hemp twine from India. Creating with this rough, but wonderful, hemp fibre is a real workout for the fingers! The fellow I buy it from is off to India again in a few weeks, and will return in the Spring of 2015 with all sorts of treasures. My next project will be crocheting with natural nettle yarn from India, a gorgeous grey fibre which has been boiled to soften it.

After years and years of crocheting, I’m finally creating my own patterns and designs. The possibilities seem endless! So many ideas to try out…

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Small is beautiful.

-E.F. Schumacher

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, here in Vancouver B.C., there was a brief burst of “Thin Houses” being built.

The lots which these thin houses were built on are usually 16.5 feet wide, and approximately 120 feet deep, but the depth can vary. They were created when wider lots, usually about 50 feet in width, were divided up, leaving the existing house on a 33 foot lot, and making room for the new, skinnier house to be added in.

The beauty of these houses lies in their simplicity. They are on a private lot, but with lower taxes, lower maintenance because of smaller size, and lower heating costs, among other advantages. There is room for a small garden, front and back. It’s like living in a townhouse or condo, minus the strata council!

Here in Vancouver land is at a premium, due in part to the city’s location, tucked in snugly beside the towering Coast Mountains and crisscrossed by waterways and bridges. It’s a popular place to live, and has become one of the most expensive cities in North America, making living here almost impossible for many people. So building “infill housing”, such as the thin houses, was a good idea, creating higher density in established neighbourhoods. But therein lay the problem! Thin houses were not universally popular, and building them went out of fashion soon after the trend had begun.

There are probably around fifty or fewer of these thin houses in Vancouver, scattered in amongst the “regular” homes. I’m always pleasantly surprised to come across thin houses on drives and walks in the city, and I’m including photos of six of them.

As far as densifying the city goes these days, “Laneway Houses” are now being built city-wide, and are a practical and attractive addition to our city. Not without their detractors, laneway houses nevertheless are enabling more people to share in living in this beautiful place.

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