Nostalgia

 

The best thing to ever come out of our time as a family in Nova Scotia was the birth of our third daughter, Storm.

She is a constant reminder to me of all that is good in the world. A smile when she sees me, her tiny body fighting sicknesses to get better and beaming when she does, trust in me as she lays her head in comfort on my chest when I hold her. Reaching out to me with her little hands and arms in faith that I will be there for her, and of course I can’t resist picking her up when she does.

GTF might be gone, but it is not forgotten. Out of death comes life, and as we know from the bible and biology a seed must die in order to live. I am longing to see what will come out of these literal burnt ashes, the death of a dream, and I am excited to see it present itself when it does.

For me, its not an easy road. I miss my family, I miss my daughters. I miss having someone close to talk to, and I miss all of the workings of a family living life. I miss the discussions and the camaraderie and the inside jokes and shared celebrations.

Of course I dont miss the negative side of it at all. There have been plenty of painful lessons to learn along the way so far, and I am sure there are more to come. Taking stock and spending months upon months of reflection on what went wrong and why tells me that there is more to reflect on, more to change, more to learn about, more to internalise. So, much, more.

I am inspired by simple things these days. Outside of myself, its seeing my daughters. Seeing them play, seeing them play with each other, seeing them interact with others, seeing them grow tall and strong and more capable. Caring for them. Playing with them. Seeing how they respond to changes in my fathering style. Enjoying their closeness and enjoying doing what I can to encourage them to grow in self belief, confidence, conflict resolution with each other, forgiveness to others, taking time for self, being happy with what they like and not relying on what others think (ie: encouraging their formation of self), and so on.

I’m also enjoying the idea of making home for them the way I want to. I’ve enjoyed hand crafting their beds, their toys, their indoor monkey bars and climbing wall in my lounge. Enjoying the process of bathing them in a steel tub. Enjoying them using the kitchen table as I made it – a gathering place to use and if it gets dirty and dented then thats part of the fun at this time. I am proud of these things, and I look forward to making home more to my liking. Truthfully, I want to make all my physical things going forward, for my family and I.

Check this out if you are ever curious. Best 24mins I ever spent watching anything on a screen

Inside of myself, its a storm sometimes. I do feel differently at times about where I find myself in life now and what its brought. Its certainly no straight line day to day, night to night. I appreciate the few good friends I have had the blessing on leaning on emotionally and talking to. Having the opportunity to talk honestly and getting good, useful feedback in return that is helpful. Kevin, Carlo, Sam, Pat, Myra. In Nova Scotia, the love and gentleness and help of Menno was my Godsend, and the genial support of George helpful. There are others who have helped along the way too and I am grateful for what they have done for me.

At times, I feel peaceful inside, that Canada is the right place to be. At other times, I feel that a culture more like my own might be better like New Zealand. Thanks to a discussion I had last night, I came to the realisation that for the next 17 years I have the adventure of raising my girls till they are ready to exit the coop. I love framing it like that, because it makes those 17 years exciting and something to look forward to, instead of feeling forced to live in a part of the world I don’t want to for a number of reasons. With this reframe, I am sure it will my improve my experience, engagement and therefore enjoyment.  I really do want my family and I to live as best as we can, and have the time of our lives doing it too.

The Gamut

Over the course of my 43 years of living, I’ve been encouraged several times by several people I respect, to write a book. My experiences in life have been extremely wide ranging, and life altering. I’ve often been told that I’ve been able to survive it because I am tough. I dont know about that, but I can sure tell you that I am well acquainted with grief, and very familiar with heart ache.

The people encouraging me to do that have given me two reasons for writing this vapour ware book. To help me process the history (often violent and painful) thus creating a type of catharsis, and then second to encourage others in the world because if I can do it, well then, someone else can do it too.

Over the course of the last two days as I was pressure washing a driveway, deck, house, stairs, etc I was afforded about eight hours of pure alone time, lost in my thoughts with a set of good quality ear muffs blocking out the sound of a noisy engined gas powered machine jetting out pressurised water at a 40deg dispersion angle. At at the end of the work, I became reacquainted in my memories suddenly with Mr Pete Johnston who was one of those encouraging the book writing. I was and remain weary of putting all my gory details on the web, but if I am happy to write a book – isnt disseminating the history that way essentially the same thing?

I might change the name of this blog as a result to…. The Gamut. You see, I came up with that name in my 20’s for this book because in life, I have literally lived through most every category of pain possible, outside of my children dying before me. And I find that too hard to contemplate for more than a split nano second.

In six days time is my third born daughters first birthday and what pains me greatly is that I have been essentially missing for half her life. Not through my choice mind. No longer am I allowed to see her 24 hours a day, every day. It literally eats me from inside that I cant see that great grin and how her face lights up every time I say Hi to her or when she sees me whenever I want to. Half her life. What an epic #*$&(# mess. I feel absolutely horrible for my daughters. So innocent, so pure, so beautiful. Subject to this horse shit, subject to their parents crap. I’ll say this out loud – this is not putting our children’s needs first. This is putting parental crap first and that is an absolute crime that our children do not need nor deserve. Not what I had envisaged when I made my children with my partner, Jillian. Am I pining for my kids and family unit? That question needs no answer.

Money makes the world go round

As most fathers who have gone through divorce or separation in this country can attest, using a lawyer (just about mandatory) is the most debilitating financial action one can go through. I’ll say it again – spending copious amounts of money on legal action that I really dont want and having flipping nothing to show for it at the end of it all. And despite me begging to stay out, I found myself in court on 4 or 5 occasions. The most expensive single day? $4K. So that I could win one more hour with my children a week.

My costs to the lawyer could have bought several second hand vehicles. Not the 1999 kind either. Could have paid the farm mortgage for a couple years. Could have leased a brand new large 4WD tractor for around 6 years. Could have…. you get the picture.

In arriving here on the Wet Coast I havent seen my children much. It bothers me a great, flipping great deal. My whole life was geared towards one point, and thats family. Not having them around is the single most painful event possible, outside of a child’s death.

I might have found a place now. Serendipitously, its on the edge of a farm which I have always admired since first laying eyes on it about 7 years ago. I aim to make friends with the farm boss (I think its owned by a large corp now), and bring my daughters to scope out the cows and the like. Smelling their big old poop and pee smell was surprisingly a welcome event and I felt all kinds of nostalgic.

The driving will suck and of course, I have to have a vehicle. Jury is out whether this will be more cost effective than staying in Victoria itself, but hopefully the venue and immediate access to nature will be worth the cost of time and money.

I’ve also dipped my toes into work again. This feels so good, as I’ve had early success. Careful to not go crazy, while frankly I’m dealing with baby tiny new potatoe sized funds to get it going.

Whats that done for me is learning for the first time in my life how to budget. I’ve come across some spiffy information from people who I feel a very weird connection with. This is not perhaps thinking I’ve found my (financial) tribe, it IS finding my tribe. They’re the kind of people who scavenge despite being financially independant, who insist of driving ten year old cars (at the newest) whose MPG are on the leanest end of commercial offerings.

They’re the kind of people who espouse stoicism and good choices and how putting every dollar I have to work for me is one of the most freeing choices I could ever make. In this process of feeling abundance (try negative visualisation for an immediate joy boost) I’ve been able to escape into nature (my go to for healing and comfort when I’m beat up by the world) and find my true desires and BOYO are they minimal.

Jill always dreamed of a simple life and the funny thing is that I couldnt accurately describe that for myself in the way she possibly could. I visualised it quite differently in a way in practice. Not only did we buy a large farm, with more land than I have ever had before (as in. WAY MORE.), but larger outbuildings and barns than I could ever had dreamed of. And then, taken on more tasks and more jobs than it was smart to do, or even reasonable. Trying to get it all done in one calendar year meant a stress load that was inhuman.

The reason I mention this is because being forcibly removed from my farm and all the hard work I did everywhere wasn’t my choice in the slightest. I had offered to pay for it all and make it work and do the maintenance etc etc. It was the life we had dreamed of right?

Well, not really. Too much work, too much stress and I became a focused tunnel vision dude to the likes of which reminded me of how I did things to win in the army stuff. Its a strength of mine to go way beyond the physical and mental capabilities of the vast majority of people, but it can also blow the people I love and care about off quite easily. Kind of a like a personal sword of Damacles.

Being forced away has forced me over the many months of heartache, tears and isolation from the people I love most to really reconsider what I had been doing. And that is the gift.

This gift has allowed me to see that at the deepest core of me, I do actually value simplicity and people be damned (voices in my head of people I have to impress for example). Having lost it all, its helped me realise that I dont want it all. A simple roof, with long lasting construction in a small easy liveable place that I dont have to worry about is the ticket. I’ll write more about that next. I expect it will be short and simple. Much like the vision.

 

 

 

It’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to…

An ode to an old song, with creative license intact, inc.

Recently, I’ve been fretting ever so hard about how to get a place for myself and my daughters. Its been significantly harder than I could ever imagine. As in, nightmare proportions…

I drove 8000 something kilometres to get Nova Scotia to Victoria BC where my ex fiance had taken our daughters. It was a solo trip, and in some ways liberating (much easier to look after just 1 person than 5) and in many ways lonely, boring , repetitive and uncomfortable. Just ask those people involved in 13 separate accidents I encountered in one 105kilometre stretch as I hit a good snow squall….

Despite having my cell and truck searched at the border (they thought I was coming to the USA to work, which I clearly wasnt) and encountering some testy bastards along the way, I actually also met some lovely, helpful, generous people too. What a wonderful experience. I slept well in the back of the truck, saving money and forgoing the luxury of a fresh shower every morning. After all, I had spent the entire summer in 2013 or 14 designing, creating, making and installing an internationally praised camping/storage/sleeping platform in the truck. It was actually darn comfortable.

I also learned to use my hand cloth to “bath” pretty much every day in Starbucks, HighVee and Walmart. Made a mess, but I took that opportunity to clean up there too. Its pretty gross walking into a toilet in a public store and seeing it gross with human activity lets be frank. I ensured my visits were first thing in the morning (6am) where the facilities had just been rigorously cleaned.

Into Canada (nice friendly border guards!), I found that coming to Victoria was a bloody nightmare. So many cars, so many people, so much grime that is typical in a city. People smoking weed walking down the main street (what a disgusting smell), and where I lived for a short time, the air was heavy at night in particular with the dense fog of cannabis. My host there was the only person in Victoria to offer me a roof to lay my head under before I arrived. I was ever so damn grateful.

I then moved onto my old Professors house where I was welcomed. I write this from there, where I had no clue what a huge bloody hassle it would be getting a decent and somewhat reasonable place to stay in a city with 0.5% occupancy rate.

Turns out, people compete for places at that sort of rates. The rental for a one bedroom without parking and without utilities is 40% more expensive than the farm’s mortgage. Its pretty insanely criminal.

If I was happy pissing away $2500 a month for rent, I could get my daughters and I a nice house or maybe even just the top floor of a house in quite a number of places. What a joke.

So, my efforts have expanded to OUTSIDE the city, where I’d be happier anyway. Raise those precious girls in a more natural, quieter environment without the pressures of sitting in traffic so bad, that Victorians call it the Colwood Crawl. Whats equally offputting is how close houses are to each other here. I could literally swing a cat and smack the opposing walls of two houses here. As we say in South Africa, nee dankie.

 

 

And its all come to an end…

On September 20, my ex fiance took my our children and left the farm without my knowing about it. She wanted a separation and whilst I was out in the field planting Willow trees she left on the auspices of going to the Doctor with the girls. She woke up the girls early from their midday nap and Skye our eldest came crying and lay on my chest for comfort. Eden came to say goodbye to me at Jill’s behest and seemed happy, and looking forward to the outing. Storm was just fine too. They left for the Doctor.

I had no clue what was coming next. A Doctor visit (who practices

Was Jillian involved in an accident? Are they hurt? Did they get carjacked??? I called Jill and I got VM. Even worse. I texted and texted and called and called. After 30minutes I got a call from Jillian telling me she wasnt coming back.

My heart shattered in a trillion pieces.

Remembering good times

It was my daughters 3rd birthday. Jill and I worked on the decorating of the rooms the night before just after the girls went to bed, and we were pretty chuffed with how it looked. Jill worked up a storm with creating Skye’s cake and extra’s. She’s a star.

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Skye comes down the stairs in the morning, but its Eden who notices something’s different

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This leads to wide eyed wonder and more than a few jumps to try and grab the paper tape hanging down from the door frame.

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Eden sees a new game on the wall, and is literally shaking from excitement

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Skye might be literally jumping for joy

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Eden’s face…she’s so unaffected and pure

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Our darling birthday girl, Skye. We love you without measure my beautiful girl

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A tired, but joyful Mommy. You did a great job Jill!

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Jill made kitty ears for the girls and herself, and a lion mane for Daddy. Thats my beautiful family, while Storm sleeps…

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hehe, that face!

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Jill made Skye her own blanket and I think you might say Skye is pretty stoked!

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My beautiful Eden thinks its pretty fantastic too 🙂

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Storm awakes and promptly receives her kitty ears. Hi my beautiful!

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Daddy helps Skye figure out her new puzzle. A rare photo for me, I’m usually behind the lens

 

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Thats not where the ribbon goes!

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Time to catch up with cousins in Victoria

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Skye had asked for a kitty cake for a long time, and boyo, did Jill deliver!

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Now, what three year old doesn’t love her some Hello Kitty?

 

A pretty terrific third birthday, all the way back in July. I just want to say that I have the most beautiful family in the world. I love you to the moon and back…..and back… and back…

 

 

It’s been busy…. hectic

Busiest summer ever, for me (in 43 years).

As I catch up with what’s been created here at GTF, here’s something that I wanted to do since learning from my soul mate Sepp Holzer. That man is an inspiration to me in more ways than I can spell out here.

Cows back into the forest to eat and roam and do good for the soil. I had to cut open barb wire fence in excellent condition to achieve this. Felt pretty liberating too…. Until the cows thought it awesome to exit the property and eat the neighbors lawn and flowers.

I’ll have to repair the 1 kilometre fence then….