Monday, January 3, 2011

"So this is the new year...

...and I don't feel any different." Except, of course, we all feel a little different each day and the cumulative difference is change, growing, living. I don't usually make resolutions for the new year, but I have been thinking a lot about changes I would like to make, goals I would like to achieve.
Who's doing their catalogue model pose?
Without going into personal growth or ambitions too much, I can say that one of my main goals for this "calendar" year and many more to come is to simplify our lives, to consume even less and to be productive in some manner, without the artificial confines our modern society attaches to the word.
Nag nag nag

For a while now, hubby and I have been periodically talking about trying to purchase some land out here, a little "place in space". We discuss what part of the Island we'd like to live in (South), what we'd want in a property (woods, like-minded neighbors, preferably a long driveway;), what kind of house we might build (Off the grid, solar, grey water system, outhouse, small room(s) with a loft, a separate sauna/wash building, a shop, maybe a workspace for me...).

Get our of jail free
This is mostly just a dream, of course. Land is prohibitively expensive on the Island and getting more so with each passing year another wave of Boomers, both Baby and Dotcom, come out here in search of a peaceful place to wait out their excessively long golden years, or visit once a year for a retreat from their high-powered corporate lives.
Mystery Gift
Even if we could afford something, I am not certain if I want to be saddled by the kind of debt acquiring it would require. The object of life to us is to live well. To live with as much peace and harmony and time as one can afford. Thinking about it logically, I realise that living here in the park affords us with more of those, even if this house is half in the ground and adorned with all kinds of wastefulness I might not desire to live with.

My objective then, is to make this little house more to our liking, less wasteful, to adjust ourselves and our expectations instead of our surroundings (an all too human desire). It is, after all a structure already built, existing, and should be utilized for its intended purpose. Anything else would be wasteful.

Row row row
As for consumption, I would simply like to reduce ours. I will seriously consider any purchase that comes with packaging that I cannot utilize somehow (Our beloved Dump recently down-graded its recycling options thanks to the shortsightedness of our county managers. Sigh.).

I will not take electricity for granted, but will instead try to use it less and enjoy it more when I'm using it.

I will take better care of our possessions, maintain them, mend them, recalibrate them.
A summer home
We will both try to walk and bike even more and take more trips on that inconvenient American public transit (Although the next trip we take will need to be buy car. You're looking at a happy hypocrite.) Since we have several boats, we'll try to utilize them more, row around instead of driving to a favorite spot, or take a little overnight holiday on another island.
The most
your boat
Sadie's socks!
I'm also going to limit my buying of clothes and books, my two weaknesses, which though mostly secondhand, are still consumption. (According to my rule I can still thrift for swaps and look forward to you girls providing me with a surprising wardrobe through them ;) I will reduce what I have, give things away, let go.
Birthday boy
As I write this, I've just finished a preliminary draft of my garden for next spring, earmarked gardening books and poured over seed catalogues. Part of my productivity ideal is trying to produce more of our own food, become more self-sufficient in all ways. We'll try to wean ourselves further from the teat of the corporate food-like-substance production chain and either make and grow our own, or make do without.
I also want to do something more for others, help somehow, though my plans for this are rather ephemeral still.
Upside down world
A castaway star
In the spirit of this new, merry austerity, new ideas, less being more, C. and I rang in the new year with some immaterial (but hilarious) birthday presents for him and a nice row in the bay. I was bundled up good and enjoying some leg-warmers from Sadie, and my last purchase of any kind for a while from Black Sheep By Velvet Leaf. Owl-spirit-totem-person-gloves. Warm. For a long time now I've dreamed of owning a piece of their beautiful clothing. Lucky me. You'll be seeing a lot more of both of these. There has been a definite cold snap here for the past few days, and I have high hopes for the ponds to freeze to ice-skating temperatures.
We skipped most of the festivities for the new year and had dinner with friends instead. It was mellow and fun. I wore a moon and a star. These kind of cool effects, btw, can be had when your camera freezes in the car.
On the first day of the new year we took a long walk. It's been lovely to spend this time together, away from every day worries and hurries.
Wool totem
Speaking of which; we are taking all these pictures of ourselves for some immigration officer somewhere. We hope they enjoy them...
Hello Mr. Immigration Officer
Happy New Year From The Bear Family! (Appropriately furry.)
Our home at sunset
How was your new year celebration? Did you make any resolutions, manifest hopes, predict the future?


  1. inspiring, as always. I, too, have been thinking that i'd like to buy less - even at thrift stores. the leg warmers look great on you. (also, i replied to your comment on my post over at my blog) ox

  2. Wonderful, wonderful! I like your resolutions, I am even excited to read about your 2011 journey forward with them....its true you are an inspirational writer. Many happy wishes for you from me.

  3. Oh, yes yes yes. You're setting an excellent example for folks in these dark days. I'm working on a new year post myself and was quite surprised when you mentioned some of the things I wanted to touch on. Great minds, my dear, great minds. I wish you much love, laughter, luck for this new year. And if those damned immigration folks don't realize you guys are legit from those pics, I don't know what will convince 'em.

  4. I'll be with you in striving towards a more self-sustaining life. I've got a ways to go, but this year I will have a garden (even if it need be indoors), and will try to reuse more, bike more, and purchase less! I'm hoping the change in location will help (not only will I have a new city to explore on foot and bike, but I won't have very much disposable income for any unnecessary purchases, especially at first.) I love that you don't have "resolutions" -- too high pressure! Also--boats! So good!

  5. why are you so amazing?
    i'm still trying to figure out what i want, both from this year and from life in general (my excuse is i'm young and not supposed to know these things yet), but it's inching evermore in this direction. and i want to grow vegies.
    and what you said about wanting to do more for others, i keep thinking about things like that, but i don't quite know what exactly i want to do. for now i try to be a good friend, daughter, neighbour, sister, etc.

  6. That was a lovely post, Milla! You have such a wonderful life. I guess wonderful people have lives that reflect them. :) Also, I think that outfit is adorable, snuggly warm and practical.

  7. oooh you got some of becky's mittens! i am happy for you because i know they are the softest sweetest things and made by a pregnant darlingheart with lots of love. you are the mistress of cozy layers which always looks so warm and magical up there in that gorgeous wintry setting. a boat life seems so utterly romantic, slow and dreamlike. i can only hope to strive for a portion of the simple life that you and c have built yourselves! and this rule about only thrifting for swaps is just perfect.

  8. heyhey, i just came across your blog some days ago and i have to say that i really like your pictures and love to follow you =)
    my new year will be a start in a new episode of my life, a new contry, a new city and starting university.
    happy new year from germany!

  9. Such beautiful, lofty, and noble goals, so inspiring you are...

    I am swooning over all the amazing layers of knitwear (both yours and C's) in these magical pics!

    Happy new year and happy birthday to C! I love the gifts you came up with for him, so perfect :)

  10. those leg warmers and mittens are cozy sweetness! and happy bday to your hubby!

    i don't generally do new years resolutions, but i am always--especially recently--mindful of ways that i would like to change/improve/simplify my and my little family's life. many of my goals are similar to yours: growing more of what we eat, consuming less. i would like more boat rides in my life and i need to make more time for sewing, too. but i have found it best to check the big picture and then work one day at a time (otherwise i get discouraged or even ornery at the slow pace of progress ...).

    ugh, good thing i didn't resolve to blog more regularly, because i'd have already failed :)

    happy new year, lovely!

  11. Ahh, layers! How I miss them! Its scorching hot here in NZ at the moment, summer in full swing, yet your cosy winter woolies leave me pining for the cooler months!! I just LOVE reading your blog, you live in such a beautiful area and your posts are always so inspirational - im particularly envious of your row boat! Looking forward to reading many more of your joyful blog posts! Melissa (

  12. you are the layer queen milla! your socks and gloves are so awesome, as are your goals. i was just planning on going through all my possessions and really getting rid of a lot. the amount of excess that accumulates is insane, especially with three kiddies.

    some of my goals for this year are to embrace where i live while i'm here and mostly to practice being more positive (this is a goal i seem to be endlessly working on). i also want to work on our diet and making things like bread and crackers myself, instead of buying them. and once this baby comes out i plan to start riding my bike more. one good thing about where i live is that most places i go are relatively close, so biking is great option.

    i can't wait to see all your progress!

  13. I was just commenting on Missa's blog that I love seaside wintery days. They're much more peaceful I find. Also you and hubby look so warm and cozy all covered in woolens :) Thank you also for your lovely comments, I need to get on my new year gratefuls and to dos and what dos soon :)

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. i thought about resolutions this year too -- it felt right -- and posted them here. less meaningless consumption is definitely a goal.

    if you are looking for inspiration as far as creating a small, sustainable home of your own, lloyd kahn and his books are your new best friends:

    he most famously wrote shelter in the early 70s. the images and ideas in his books are nice to have around and to dream about. land of one's own where i live is also financially beyond comprehension for my little fam.

    growing up here in the bay area and in nature, the structures in builders of the pacific coast are so up my alley, and i think yours too!

    love hearing your thoughts on the new year and seeing pics of your 'hood!

  16. Just wanted to say hello, and I have been enjoying your lovely blog for some time. You have been inspiring to me, at a time when I had given up on embracing my more "quirky" (meaning outside mainstream bland American culture) fashions and interests, and your posts helped me regain some inspiration, so thank you.
    Going back a few posts, I used to have that same 70's snuggie growing up, but my family referred to it as "The Snuggly".

  17. You are the cutest. You are the most thoughtful. You are my hero for even considering toning down the clothes and books purchases :-)