Archive for the ‘domestic’ Category

Moving House

October 16, 2010

When I give the time since I last did something, like say, it’s been a little over a month since my last blog post, I often find myself back in the confessional of my youth. I note this, only as a note. It has nothing to do with what follows, and what follows (as yet unwritten) I can say with some certainty will be a collection of loosely related notes.

Since the first of this month I’ve been without a home internet connection. And in the weeks prior to the first of this month I was packing up everything for our second major move this year. I want to note the nostalgia that comes over in the packing stage, and it may be that with three children, and being a collector, and living with a collector, a better word might be keeper, we’re definitely keepers of cards, letters, diaries, photos, ribbons, teeth, hair, drawings, paintings, toys, lunch pails, books, magazines and a being a keeper means having an interest in the things being kept. So packing is a slow process as all those interesting things are examined as they are moved into boxes. The experience is overwhelming, at least for a writer imagining the possibility of typing out the experience all at once.

There is an idea here. Once I’m settled in this new place, and I’m guessing that might be another couple weeks, I’d like to occasionally go through the collections, and write about something that inspires. That may not have come across earlier, but the overwhelming I was talking about was in part inspiration to write, just too much inspiration all at once.

There sure are a lot of reasons working against writing regularly. If it’s not too much inspiration, it’s too little, and inspiration hasn’t even been the biggest issue behind my low word count.  This post is pointless, and really, the only writing I ever do is a kind of incoherent rambling, but I’m more often than not blocked by a desire to get it right and then put it out, of course I never get it right. I think I’ve managed to overcome that block, we’ll see.

So much has changed over the past year, not just changing buildings. When Jimi Hendrix asks, “Have you ever been experienced?” I’d today answer that I have. I am definitely experienced, after a lifetime of sheltered experience, I’ve been in some pretty hairy spots, but until this past year, I’ve never had pure experience. I’ve been telling people that I’m enlightened. That I’m the motherfucking buddha. And I’m not kidding. I have been experienced.

I have seen The Trotsky, which is worth seeing. The scene where Leon’s being interviewed by the ex-Prime Minister’s son, and his lawyer/lover pulls the plug on the interview as he’s about to reveal that he is in fact the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky is relevant here. It’s crazy to claim enlightenment (or reincarnation) or any other form of mysticism. Eckhart Tolle suffered a psychotic break and sold millions of copies of the book that puts his psychosis right out there, but he’s still crazy. I can’t yet articulate the enlightenment other than through jokes. I am not really the Buddha, not even the motherfucking buddha, but I have definitely been experienced, lived a series of epiphanies, become enlightened.

I started writing up Siddhartha a few years back but never finished. I should give it another try, with all this enlightenment talk. There was also something about fatherhood I wanted to write up but never got around to it.

And finally I’ve come to terms with work for hire. This is part of my enlightenment and best left for future articulation. I’ve had an issue with maintaining my personal integrity in work for hire. As a person, I have no interest in manipulating others. If you are not interested in something, it ends there for me. I can not sell anything. Wouldn’t win your vote. I let the worst happen before giving up my own, even hypothetical, autonomy. Your autonomy I will not mess with. It’s not morality or an ethic, of course I will develop it into an ethic, for now it’s more on a level of personal comfort. So while I was a full-time stay-at-home parent, I was expecting to go back into teaching when the time came. But now as a part-time stay-at-home parent looking for part-time work-for-hire the thought of teaching is repulsive, at least in the regular classroom with kids who don’t really want to be there.

I’ve found something I like to do and will start writing about it as soon as I’m settled. The content will fit seemlessly here, but I’ll also be posting it on a work-based blog. There might be some editing. We’ll see. Always a work in progress…

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Communal Fire

August 26, 2010

Kate had a meeting about one thing or another on Salt Spring Island, so we decided to take the opportunity to camp out on another island. We spent the night at Ruckle provincial Park .

We drove to Tsawwassen and took the ferry to Swartz Bay and a ferry from there to Salt Spring Island. The camp sites at Ruckle Park are walk in. So we parked the truck in a parking lot and walked our gear to site 44. H picked the site. Near, but not too near, the toilets, and close to the water. H knows that you don’t want to be too near the toilets because they smell. The day was spent swimming and hiking. And at the end of the day the moon rising over the water was beautiful. I tried to take a picture, but I only had my cell phone and couldn’t capture anything.

There was a fire ban, so the Shared Fire Rings were empty, but I like the idea.

I think this place would be a great destination for our next bike trip. We haven’t ridden to Tsawwassen yet. I think it’s around 30k. The ride once you get on Salt Spring is 10k. I’m thinking it would make a great weekend bike trip. There’s no reason to only take bike trips in the summer. Summer is the time for longer tours, but overnight trips would be great preparation. You’d need to carry less clothing, and food on an overnight trip. And sleeping on the ocean in different types of weather would be great experiences.

Bike touring is a long term family project. Weekend rides would be good practice. For camping to be enjoyable, I think you need to do it well. What I’m going to start working on is creative cooking. Cooking well is part of living well. Tasty meals are a reason to live. And as we continue to camp/tour/travel I’d like to develop cooking skills that travel.

Moose sighting

August 21, 2010
Starting out, originally uploaded by Rodger Levesque.
We left for our bike camping trip to Newcastle Island on Tuesday morning at about 10:45 am. Not the earliest get away, and this is after a Monday night of packing. At about midnight when the packing was not just a creative editing process, but continual additions I started to get a little cranky. (We’ll deal with this in an upcoming post, but let’s just make the note here that I can get cranky.)

The top of the Lion’s Gate Bridge, originally uploaded by Rodger Levesque.

The ride from East Van to Horseshoe Bay is a pretty good pedal for anyone, but load camping gear and supplies for a  family of five and a dog on your bike and that ride, at least for this 40 year old, is daunting. I do have a bit of a sense of humour, or more accurately a sense of the ridiculous, so I could crack a smile after a bit of time passed.

This is the second year for the bike trip, and there is a philosophy, or an ethic behind the trip. After reading Hold on to Your Kids, a few years ago, I started thinking about things we could do as a family. Camping is an easy one. Kids love it and I’m a fan myself, but I have issues with car camping. I do it, I car camp, but I have issues with burning gas and the militarized capitalist system in general. So the idea of bike camping had appeal.

Problem is that we have 3 children under 8. The two little ones can’t pedal their own weight, so we’ve got to carry them and all their stuff. Luckily in 35km we can pedal to some sweet campgrounds. We ride to Horseshoe Bay, take the ferry to Departure Bay, ride a kilometre or so and take a small ferry to Newcastle Island.

Last year I carried two kids and gear on my bike. This year one was on a trail-a-bike. This made room in the trailer for a cooler. At some point the kids will be on their own bikes and we can disperse the weight, but for now I’m carrying pretty much everything.

There’s a tent, sleeping bags (5), sleeping pads, towels, clothing, a kitchen, cups, bowls, plates, cutlery, a cooler with food for 4 days. There’s not a way I can think to bring less than this. But the little ones brought their suitcases filled with toys. I could have saved a little weight by packing for the girls, but there’s an area that’s tough at this age. The kids love packing their own bags.

Our son rides his own bike. He packed and carried his own bag. He gets the idea that you only bring what you need. He also revels in wearing the same clothes for days on end. He loves the idea of washing your clothes as you ride. Check out Return of the Scorcher, for among other things, some tips on bike touring. Eventually the girls will understand the need for less, but you see the picture, the toys are the least of my worries.

Moose sighting, originally uploaded by Rodger Levesque.

Beach, originally uploaded by Rodger Levesque.

Horseshoe Bay Village, originally uploaded by Rodger Levesque.

There are no cars on the Island so that is a plus. There are good biking trails and hiking trails and beaches. We take a day to get there, and a day to get home, and spent two full days exploring the island. The day we left, the kids wanted to stay. That’s a good sign. As we were packing up to leave, the kids were talking about coming back. I think we’ve found something we can do together that we all enjoy.

We didn’t bring anything we didn’t use, and there were things we didn’t bring that we could have used. There is an idea of practice here. We want to be a bike camping/touring/travelling family. As the kids get older we will go further, for longer periods.

Last year we rode multiple days to Porpoise Bay, we stayed in hotels, backpacker hostels (there’s a picture of us on this page, Rene was 7 here, notice one girl in the trailer and one in the seat), and campgrounds. We mostly ate at restaurants. This year we brought the cooler so eating wouldn’t be as expensive. We’re hoping to learn over the years, to become better touring cyclists. The cooler idea comes from a session with Gwendal Castellan at the Bike Doctor on Broadway last summer. We also learned to use a pressure cooker to make a camp stove much more efficient. That was a good session to attend. Later we saw his bike at the Museum of Vancouver during their bike show.

One trap I want to try to overcome is the gearhead trap. Camping can be a consumerist event. This pull to purchase your way into a lifestyle, is a tendency I need to be on guard against. Our bikes and trailers are not just for touring, but our main everyday mode of transportation.

My bike is 10 years old. My xtracycle kit is 4 years old. and our trailer/stroller is 5 years old. The stroller was used daily the first 4 years of its life. We have literally worn the wheels off the thing. The first set of stroller wheels failed after about 2 years, and were replaced free of charge by Cambie Cycle. That replacement set just failed. We now use the jogging wheel attachment for hauling groceries. Like I said we used it as a cart everyday. We have regularly overloaded the thing. You can see from the picture here that it can handle quite a bit of weight. We don’t use it to carry kids anymore, so I’m more apt to treat it with a little less respect for stated limits.

I’m going in to detail about this trailer because while the chariot is a purchased solution, and it can be the mark of a gearhead (obssessive-compulsive consumer), it can also be the mark of a greasemonkey (hacker/tinkerer/smith). The chariot is a smooth moving piece of machinery that you can actually use. I’m eventually going to fashion it into a touring trailer at some point. This is an area I want to stick with in my posts. Camping/touring is a consumer field, like pretty much all fields. What I’m interested in is ways of purchasing that are not wasteful.

backyard bikes and dirt

August 16, 2010

simple machines and dirt, originally uploaded by Rodger Levesque.

so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens.

I took this picture after attaching the trail-a-bike a friend had lent us. We are heading out on a camping trip in a couple days.

Notice the little garden plot in the back corner. We used this article as a guide. We’ve planted a row of spinach, parsnips, swiss chard and beets. And then filled in between the path stones with onions and pac choi. The links are to the seeds we used. I lost the parsnips package, so can’t be sure which seeds we used, but the row is also too close to the house and gets very little sun, so I’m not expecting much from them. This is our first year so I’m not expecting much any way, except a learning experiment. The kids are involved and excited.

We’ve also got a package of snow peas that we need to find/make a space to plant.

And then there’s the wheelbarrow. One thing missing is the chickens, but we are planning to build a coop this fall.

Everything is Data

August 11, 2010

The importance of where an idea is coming from (Latour’s notebooks) Keep track of all our moves. Everything is data. Keep four notebooks, keep to description. nb1. log of enquiry itself. nb2. gathering information. nb3. writing trials nb4. register effects of written account.

This last notebooks suggests an ethic of concern, commitment, continuance.

This ethic of concern also contradicts the common notion of scientific experiment. If someone told you he was experimenting on his friends you’d think — borderline personality disorder, etc. etc. To treat your friends as objects to be manipulated, as data…

This brings up the notion of common understanding, meaning, language, sense. One argument holds that if a word has a meaning it must keep the meaning. You must use words as they are understood if you hope to communicate. If the word has a meaning, don’t change it, find a word that means what you want to say or in other words if you want to say something different say what you want with different words.

In common understanding, science is a cold data based study of a sub-field of matter. But for the social scientist who tries to reduce  the object of study to a cold data, this mode of study is based on selected data, and more accurately the scientist is reduced. Latour brings in everything, of course this is impossible, but it’s not impossible to bring more of your story to the study. Social science becomes a warm science, the science of living. Domestic science could be a warm and intimate science of daily living.

Search This!

December 22, 2009

This blog was hit by a surge of activity over the past few days. The search term that brought the activity here was “rodger levesque polygamist”. I’m sorry to let the searcher down, but here goes, the rest of this post is for you. Now seems as good a time as any to put down a succinct statement of my view on conjugal relationships.

First, the concept of living together that I’m working on is far from finished. That’s part of the reason that very little of the concept has been a subject of my writing. Another part of the reason is the confrontational quality of a critique of commonsensical concepts. These are only two reasons, but they play off each other, and have created a necessity to develop a conceptual sphere within which the idea can be safely discussed. That sphere is a theory of social change. This work isn’t even in the beginning stages, but this short statement might help.

Polygamy creates an immediate reaction. The word is synonymous with polygyny, which is the practice of men marrying more than one woman. This practice is most frequently associated with religious institutions and under-aged (non-consensual) brides. This practice, like the common practice of marriage, limits human affection and relationships to an institutionally predetermined configuration. These relationships are closed and exclusive. And the breaching of these definitions is subject to a punitive justice that justifies violence against women, reveals the objectification of women as property.

There are a number of problems within society that are embodied in our cohabitation practices. And while a theory of change wouldn’t stop at the criticism of relationships, the criticism of relationships needs to be included. The criticism of our conjugal practices has a long tradition in the development of a theory of social change.

Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.

Today still the most radical freak out when the couple as the only possible relationship is contested. The immediate reaction is the illegality of polygamy, but this form needs to be contested as well. What I am currently proposing is an open , inclusive practice of living together. I’m not suggesting any form of polygyny or polyandry. I’m suggesting no institutionalized form, but a practice of living with friends and lovers in common.  I suggest it as a way of overcoming the splitting that is affecting us so deeply in this policed state we are living under.

“The bourgeois whose existence is split into a business and a private life, whose private life is split into keeping up his public image and intimacy, whose intimacy is split into the surly partnership of marriage and the bitter comfort of being quite alone, at odds with himself and everybody else, is already virtually a Nazi, replete both with enthusiasm and abuse; or a modern city-dweller who can now only imagine friendship as a “social contact”: that is, as being in social contact with others with whom he has no inward contact.” (Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno. Dialectic of Enlightenment. p.155. Continuum, New York)

When Rodney King asks “Can’t we all just get along?” the cynical modern city-dweller can only laugh at the naivete. But in that question is the seed of an important part of any theory of social change. Why can’t we get along? Why are we incapable of living together?

Very simply, I’d argue that our institutionalized relationship forms are not open enough to accommodate the variety of relational possibilities. And more the exclusive quality of the given form creates a taboo on intimacy outside the form. It can be argued that any taboo limits freedom, because of the possibility of free movement transgressing the taboo.

Of course we are not prepared to live together. We have lost the art. But manuals like Aristotle’s Ethics and The Way of The Samurai can teach us the way to live together, and with commitment to the experiment, we may once again experience living in groups or actually living in community.

Plastication

September 27, 2006

The kids had no school today, and being momentarily unemployed, everything sort of worked out for the best. I took them to Science World. We’re one Skytrain stop away, and it is a favourite destination for the boy. I think this is the third year we’ve been members, and today I got my new membership card with a picture. We spent over five hours inside and I still had to drag them out of there.

The Aquarium and Science World are two great places to spend the day with your kids, as long as it’s a weekday. Stay away on weekends. Really there aren’t many places in Vancouver worth going that don’t fill up before you get there on weekends. It’s to the point I’m thinking any work I do should be on the weekend, so I have a couple weekdays off to enjoy the city.

We parked our stroller in the stroller parking section, they really have one of these, shouldn’t that be written into the by-laws like car and bicycle parking? Anyway, The Body Worlds exhibit cost extra to get into, and I don’t know if it was worth it. But it was interesting.

It’s pretty fucking gross really. There’s this one guy, totally skinned and holding it out like a used blanket. I was disgusted. These are real bodies that have gone through a preservation process. It was also amazing. I mean that in the sense that I was amazed. I’m thinking to go back without the kids to spend some time with the pieces. I took a real close look at some skin, it had been shaved, but was translucent and you could see the hair continue into the follicle. The muscles and connective tissues were also something else. I’ve seen drawings before, but this was different. There was so much more information there. Beef Jerky. It was kind of like that. Words popping into your head. These are real human bodies, in exploded views. Not exploded in the way of a bullet. This was more like art. It was provocative.

I walk by Commercial Drive Station every Friday lunch and there are the Right to Lifers creaking around with their posters of fetal mutilation. And in this exhibit there’s the progression of fetal development sealed in plastic. The eight week fetus in striking. This is going to bother someone. That’s what I thought then. Not that it bothered me, but that it would bother someone. My living little ones were a bit freaked, they didn’t say anything, but exploded humans, how does a four year old see that. He didn’t say much about them. My two year old who is still nursing was fascinated by the nipples on all the female corpses.

I’ll check it out without kids before it wraps up. I wonder about this.