12 Projects 2021

ack at the start of 2021, I decided to choose 12 Projects around the house to tackle over the course of the year. One per month. I quickly brainstormed a couple obvious ones, then filled out the majority of the list throughout January. (As I was working on the first project).
To note: there is nothing wrong with my house.

I caution against falling into the HGTV-trap of thinking your home is “wrong” because it doesn’t look like the homes on TV. Instead, look to the ways you enjoy your spaces and the function of those spaces. If something isn’t working for those reasons, see if you can make a quick fix. If something is “ugly”, but still works, maybe leave it alone. Your wallet and the environment will thank you.

The only purely aesthetic changes will be made with paint. Our bedroom is in rough shape, and the gloomy main floor colour brings me down, so those will get a refresh. Other wise, all of these projects will hopefully help me enjoy it more, keep things (and me) organized, and potentially even benefit my community.

JANUARY THROUGH MARCH

I previously detailed my January project on the blog (this link won’t work anymore unfortunately… CREATIVE: Art for the Book Nook). And so far it has stayed (mostly) clean, and honors my intent for the space. My spice cupboard had never been properly organized since we moved in here, so I made it February’s Project. And I knew that I would have to get my seeds started in March anyway, so I made it a Project. All of the projects so far have relied on items and tools I had in my home. I collect (hoard?) glass jars, and the grow cabinet was a secondhand gift from my parents. Being purposeful about my energy, and putting a time limit/deadline on the Projects focuses the intent and encourages completion.

So far I am 3 for 3.

LESSONS LEARNED

This has been a good reminder that I don’t need a lot of fancy or new supplies. I have a lot of things I can use at home, I just need to make the time to put it all together.
It is also a good reminder that I can plan out projects and actually complete them. It’s nice to have some small, medium, and large-sized goals to tackle and prove this to myself every once and awhile.


But if anyone has ideas for November’s project, I am taking suggestions!

LEARNING AND TAKING ACTION

We need a new kind of HGTV (Curbed NY)

Your HGTV Obsession Might Make You Hate Your Home (Scary Mommy)

House flipping in New York City threatens the American Dream: Study (Curbed NY)

Are home renovations necessary? (Curbed NY)

Ethical design practices may slow gentrification (The Dirt)

First Quarter Book Review (2021)

This has become one of my favourite traditions. Tracking and writing about the books I’ve read every quarter. In these summary posts, I usually include a note about my favourite title from the quarter, write about my book goals and how those are going, and note which books I’ve currently got on the go. I love chatting about books, thinking about books, writing about books, but I don’t think that has an audience here. And then I read back through my last book summary post and I realized that I am the audience for these posts. That’s a good enough reason to keep going.

This is a 1st quarter write up, and covers January through March 2021. I read 20 books this quarter (two more than Q4 2020), and am still successfully tracking them on a Google Sheet. I not only track titles here, I also use it to track my “mini” reading goals. To note: I am doing a crap job on those mini goals.

LIKE CHOOSING A FAVOURITE CHILD

Choosing a favourite book is like choosing a favourite child…I assume. I only have the one kid, and he is my favourite. I tend to think in relative terms of “favourite books” and divide them further into categories like: recommended, hated, meh, loved. Keeping that in mind…

I read a lot of delicious cozy romances this quarter, and one terrifying horror book. The horror won out. This is very on brand for me. It was sneaky and gory and I loved every minute of it. Even (especially?) considering it caused me to be afraid of the spaces underneath my couch and bed. I’ve also now gathered a lot of great romance titles to recommend to people when they ask, which is to say, never.

I always start the year with a non-fiction book that I later realize has more significance than I first attributed to it. My first of 2021 smacked me upside the face with how much I have grown in the past few years. It is not my favourite of the quarter, not by a long shot. Instead I have chosen a book recommended to me during our first Accountability Club meet up for 2021 by my best friend and SIL. It really changed how I look at cleaning my home, keeping it clean, and other tasks I put off until they really stress me out. I have been recommending it to neurodiverse folks, or folks who otherwise have a hard time cleaning their homes for whatever reason.

ON DECK

I have approximately forty bajillion non-fiction books on the go at the moment, and the libraries have opened back up, and I finally got to visit our city’s brand new “flagship” library. I’m calling it the flagship library partly because it’s the biggest one in the city and partly because it actually looks like a ship. Second quarter is looking splendid, but I really have to find some Canadian & Indigenous authors to dig into!

FURTHER READING & RESOURCES

I haven’t been using Goodreads as much lately, especially considering (Amazon?) bought it up, but it’s still the best all-in-one-place resource I have found for book info. Someone please prove me wrong because it’s not great.

Read more about how I set “Numbers Goals” here.

Native American Romance Novels by Native Authors. (Book Riot) Unfortunately, none of the books recommended in that post are available at my library, but Book Riot is always helping me learn stuff and grow as a reader.

2020 New Releases by Indigenous Authors (Raven Reads)

11 Canadian Science Fiction Books to Read This Summer (CBC)

Defend Our Parks? It’s Complicated

First and foremost I want to state that when speaking on or writing about this issue we must always acknowledge how the creation, maintenance, and upholding of our park system is directly related to the ongoing genocide of Indigenous people and nations.
This specific action – “Defend Our Parks” – came about when in March 2020 the United Conservative Party government of Alberta announced a plan to close or partially close 20 parks, and remove a further 164 sites from our parks system. Despite what the government says, this opens those lands up to a variety of activities, including ones that would be wholly detrimental to their standing as natural areas (oil & gas development among them).
The government has since walked back this decision.

A BIT OF A BRAIN DUMP

This feels like a ridiculous thing to be concerned about when people are literally dying from racism and climate change, but I think it’s connected. And I am worried that a lot of the people and organizations who are advocating to “defend our parks” aren’t doing a good job connecting this issue to the bigger issues. In fact, many of them don’t even mention it. How does this connect to larger issues of fascism, capitalism, and white supremacy? These are systems that we live within whether we like it or not.


The Defend AB Parks campaign was successful for now, but what comes next? How do we keep the momentum of this campaign? This activism is unique and powerful because it cuts across party lines, especially in Alberta where so much of our (white settler) identity is tied up in our natural areas. Ranching and other agricultural pursuits, hunting and fishing, outdoor sports, these are all connected back to defending our parks and natural areas.
The government backed down on their original plan to delist 184 parks, but what will stop them from trying this again? They have already moved on to opening up some very sensitive areas in the southern foothills to new coal leases. Again, passing along profit to a small amount of companies to detriment of our long-term health and wellbeing. The connection between all levels of our government and private capital makes me sick. Once I saw behind the curtain (so-to-speak) I see this everywhere. This isn’t conspiracy minded nonsense, as many folks in power would have you believe. This is just how it is under our current system. It makes actions like Defend AB Parks all the more important for rallying a variety of folks to one cause. While it’s single-mindedness also misses the bigger picture and doesn’t allow for longevity, and movement building.


I believe in protecting our natural areas, but I also believe in Land Back. I believe in maintaining “green” spaces in the interest of halting climate change, but I also know that Indigenous peoples have managed our green spaces for millennium and that we white settlers are kidding ourselves when we call these places “untamed wilderness”.

This is such a huge, complex, topic. And I am absolutely not the person to break it down for you. I just want you to know that I am also confused and I am just trying to do my best. For my neighbours and for our existence on this planet. Cause y’all, the Earth itself is a lot older than us. She will change and get through this, and keep on keeping on. All this stuff we are doing to her in the name of capitalism, and consumerism, we are the ones at risk from the consequences. Our days are numbered and each of us will not face this burden equally. And that’s what really makes me so mad.


And so I turn my activism inward, and I turn it to my community, and I try to make a difference where I can.

TAKE ACTION

LOW EFFORT

MID EFFORT

  • Come hiking with me! “On Saturdays We Hike” is a thing I accidentally started on Instagram and IRL in August 2020. A lot of the parks, recreation areas, and natural areas that were on the chopping block aren’t close to Edmonton, but in the summer I am going to try and hit up the ones that are.
  • Learn about UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and how it relates to land use, and free, prior and informed consent.
  • Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action.

MOST EFFORT

Land acknowledgements are the VERY LEAST we can do as settlers when posting pictures on social media, and hosting events (online or in person). This is not tokenism, this is the bare minimum. I really like this land acknowledgment, and I learned a lot on this site about how and why to craft a land acknowledgement. Learn about the Indigenous folks who call your part of the world home at Native Land.

FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES

READ: I initially wrote about this issue here: Defend Our Parks. There are more “Further Reading” links posted there.

SUPPORT: CPAWS has been doing a lot of work around this topic, and I encourage you to explore their site.

LISTEN: Daveberta episode 55 (June 1 2020). CN for Indigenous erasure

Happy New Year, Love LiLuDa

Every December or January, I send out a card and letter to family, friends, and acquaintances whose addresses are in my possession. This year 99 went out in the mail. I also like to post it on the Blog, so you readers can get a more personal snapshot into my life. Here is the 2021 edition. Please note it has been edited slightly for privacy.

This December 2021 issue of the LiLuDa Times is dedicated to my dad who has been sending out Christmas letters for 30 years. Thank you for being a great role model, for weekly phone calls, and for reminding me of what’s truly important in life. I love you.

Whatever life looked like for you this year, you are here. And I am so glad.

What big or small things did YOU celebrate in 2021? Here are some from us:

  • All three of us got our double doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and were happy to do so! Lisa is due for a booster any day now.
  • Lisa had a seizure in April, and has been diagnosed with epilepsy. Dan got to call an ambulance and Lisa got to ride in one, although she doesn’t have a solid memory of the experience. Her current meds are working, and she was grateful to get her driver’s license back in November. Even more grateful to the hardworking firefighters, paramedics, and ER staff who took care of her that night. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
  • Lucas got his braces off in the spring; he has a lovely smile and has a better flossing habit than his Mom.
  • Dan left his job at xxxx Construction for a temp position at a local school board; a three month contract building portables was extended twice, and he is enjoying working in town.
  • Taking the utmost precautions and care with local Covid-19 restrictions, we had the opportunity to do some traveling this summer, close to home. Lucas & Lisa headed to Calgary in August, rode karts down a ski hill and ate the best Indian food ever. Dan & Lisa did a couple of camping trips, hiked a couple of mountains. Alberta is a beautiful province to explore.
  • Lucas celebrated his 16th birthday with a party in our local park. He also got his learner’s permit and has been taking exclusive driving lessons with Grandpa. Turns out this car fan loves driving!
  • Welcomed Lisa’s sister Amy and her family back to Edmonton from Dubai for a few weeks, which meant lots of activities and family time to keep us occupied. Lucas and his cousins picked up right where they left off.
  • Lucas started Grade 11, back to in-person school. He was very happy to reconnect with some good friends in real life that he hasn’t seen in awhile. He loves social studies and mechanics best. Otherwise, he hangs out with friends online playing racing games, Minecraft, Fortnite. There is always lots of laughter coming out of his room. (He’s such a great kid).
  • Lisa celebrated her 41st birthday at Elk Island National Park with family and friends, an ugly cake, a short hike, and a (now) traditional camping trip. It was a beautiful autumn weekend.
  • Two elections for us in the Fall: federal and municipal; Lisa got out canvassing for her municipal candidate of choice.
  • On Saturday We Hike was a huge success! Almost every Saturday a group of us head out to a local trail for a walk. 45 events in total this year, in Edmonton’s beautiful River Valley, ravines, and out of town. We’ve got our core group, but we’re always looking for more walkers. The best way to start the weekend is in the community of nature and friends.
  • We said goodbye to Online Art Night this year. Almost three years, but it has run its course. The pandemic pushed us online, which worked for awhile, but it turns out that crafting together is better in person.
  • Dan built us a “friendly-sized” fence in the front yard, an amazing canopy for his mini truck, helped the neighbour do some roofing, and got a lovely new (old) stove for his garage with a great story.
  • Lisa is currently the Parent Council Secretary, and her five year anniversary volunteering on the support line with the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton is coming up.

“It is love and friendship, the sanctity and celebration of our relationships, that not only support a good life, but create one.” Wallace Stegner

In memory of “Grandpa P”, Carolyn M Great Aunt JoAnn, Nanny, Jan V, Patty G, EJ, LN, AW, and beloved pets Simone, Jaco, and Miss May.

Defend Alberta Parks

In a previous post, I wrote about a recent camping trip, and included some links to help other Albertans take action against the privatization of public lands.

Around the same time I was writing this post, more and more information was coming out about how the initial story we had been told wasn’t the whole story. And Albertans were getting a shittier deal than we initially suspected!


CPAWS has been doing great work around this topic, and I encourage you to explore their site. They have created a “to-do” list to take action, including a great email template for easy sending to Alberta’s Minister of the Environment and Parks. You can find that list and template here. I took that template and made some adjustments this morning. Took me maybe 15 minutes all-in. And I didn’t have to look up any email address!


This is what I wrote:

Dear Minister Nixon,
I do not support the removal of the provincial parks, recreation areas and natural areas from Alberta’s parks system or any of the associated closures, sales or transfers of infrastructure at these areas to third party managers. Alberta’s parks should remain publicly managed, open, and protected under the Provincial Parks Act. I am deeply concerned over the fate of parks and conservation in Alberta and urge you to take immediate action.

It is crucial that parks remain open and protected from resource extraction. I know that our province is traditionally obsessed with the jobs created by that resource extraction, but parks also provide much needed jobs in tourism, outdoor guiding, rural communities and more.

The inherent value of these parks goes farther than any quick dollar you could make from their sale, providing clean water to our communities, and protecting our beautiful and diverse fish and wildlife habitats.

Albertans care about their parks. It seems as if everyone I know in the province right now is either coming home from a trip to a Park, or planning to take one in the next month. This is a gift our parents gave us, and one we can pass along to our children. My son is a teenager now, so making time to connect with him is rare. But we can always count on spending time in a park.

It is YOUR responsibility of Environment and Parks to PROTECT those things. Government protection and management of these spaces ensures their long-term survival, and allows all current and future Albertans to enjoy the benefits of tourism, outdoor recreation, and biodiversity.

Do not close, transfer the assets of, or delist Alberta’s parks and recreation areas.

BUT Y’ALL, THAT AIN’T ALL!

I also wrote to my MLA, the rep for Edmonton-Strathcona and former Premier Ms. Rachel Notley! Here’s how that email went:
Dear Ms. Notley,Thank you so much for standing up to defend our Alberta Parks. I have so many fond memories in our local parks from my childhood, and my son’s childhood. I shudder to imagine a day where those opportunities aren’t available to people. If anything, we should be making our parks and recreation areas MORE accessible, especially to marginalized communities. Or giving these spaces back to the Indigenous people and First Nations who still call this land home. It’s safe to say that I don’t always agree with the Alberta NDP on everything (it’s weird to be a left-of-the-lefties in this province!), but I am ALWAYS grateful for your voice and your opposition to the current government. Thank you and take care, a Ritchie Resident

FURTHER READING

I think I link to a Sprawl article every few posts or so, but TBH they just do great independent journalism! Check out this article by Melanee Thomas: “Albertans love our parks – so why close them?


I am 50/50 on most CBC reporting, but this article (also linked above) is terrrr-ific: “Documents reveal doubts on Alberta plans to close, deregulate parks“.


I’m still digging into the “Don’t Go Breaking My Parks” initiative started by the Alberta NDP, but at the very least I am going to sign up to get a sticker!


And finally, if you like reading reports, check out this link on the CPAWS site: “New Report Shows Parks and Protected Areas are Essential to Our Lives and Economies: Alberta Government Still Needs Convincing“.