Life & Death & Everything in Between

It’s been a long time since our last post, but today being a beautiful sunny day, the first morning of frost, Gord’s oldest “kid” turning 22, and also our 15th anniversary of falling in love, it seemed a good time to let some words flow.  I also have a bad cold that I can’t seem to shake that I picked up during my week in Vancouver for UBCM and attending the 80,000 strong Strike for Climate event. (Link to Ann’s UBCM council report).   Gord attended the same event here in Victoria with about 20,000.  Both Gord and I are focused on the climate and ecological crisis with our council work. Here’s Gord’s latest council update.

Mindfulness:  I learned something from my dad this past June as I sat by his side for his last 4 days. Stop being in such a hurry in life because the destination is death.  Over the past year since my breast cancer scare, I have learned to slow down and appreciate the little things.  I feel enormous gratitude every single day.  It’s not surprising then, that I have been very happy and content.  Losing my dad has really solidified this transition to a slower gentler way of navigating our crazy world.  Here’s link to a facebook photo album of my dad.  My Dad

Shorts my dad made and proudly wore in the 70’s. They fit me perfectly.

Leslie Howard Chadderton…otherwise known as Howie, Howard, Dad, and Papa Howie. July 29, 1939 – July 8th, 2019.

Dad was born and died in the Royal Columbian Hospital with an almost 80-year gap. Mom and I were there holding your hands and telling you how much you are loved as you slowly slipped away. Your body quit, and we are not quite sure why, but answers may still come over the next few months.

Although you are physically gone, you will of course live on in my brother and I, your two grandsons, and in the positive impact you made on all who knew you.

Dad and I playing in the water

My dad was very unique and danced literally and figuratively to his own beat. His creative mind and spacial mathematical aptitude combined with outside the box thinking always resulted in very unique creations and ideas. He was very sensitive, loving, accepting, kind, hard-working, and almost always smiling and happy. Dad almost always made the best of everything. He could build beautiful and intricate things from scraps, had an unusual attention to detail, could fix practically anything, always made do, and everywhere he went he sharpened people knives and fixed stuff. He loved nature, camping, hiking, paddling, riding his bike, painting, carving, building things, inventing, making thoughtful homemade cards for family, and eating. Dad loved mom’s homemade cooking.

Dad with one of his carvings

The journey was important to you dad. Now that you’ve reached your destination, the message of savoring the journey is loud and clear.

Your ashes will be here with me, and with your mother, who’s ashes you spread under her favourite rose.

Mom and Dad’s Wedding

Your life-long love affair of 56 years with mom continued right to the end as the two of you grinned and nuzzled and shared frequent I love you’s during your last 4 days I was present for. From both my parents, I learned about commitment, perseverance, and the deeper love that arises from sticking together.

I love you dad.

Breast Cancer update:  I had the first scare last year which I wrote a very popular post, but what I haven’t done is updated on my second breast cancer scare.  Yup, they found a much larger mass under MRI.  They drilled in and took samples leaving titanium markers behind.  Negative, no cancer cells.  Then they did an ultrasound and more drills and biopsies as they said it really looks like cancer.  Negative again.  However, they were still not convinced and both my family doctor and the specialist recommended removing the large mass…I am a small breasted woman who is VERY sensitive to drugs.  Surgery was not something I was keen on. I opted for a wait and see approach.  Six months later, another MRI (which is the only way they could see the mass, cannot feel a lump or anything).  And guess what, the mass has shrunk and they no longer recommend removal.  As a side note I have entered menopause during this time and EVERYTHING in my body is changing.    Anyways, perhaps surprisingly, I have never really been that worried about it and my gut instinct was right…I probably don’t have breast cancer and intervention is not right for me… at least at this point.

Fall on the Eco-Sense Homestead:  Bear, deer, rabbits, mink, oh shit, repeat.

Our fence looks like a patch work quilt…only much less attractive.  We have lost a number of crops, but surprisingly have faired ok.  There has been extensive deer nibbling, some fruit tree damage, and a very active dog.

We have just pretty much come to expect daily encounters. The fall pea crop…gone. Beans?  gone.  Leaves on nursery plants…Gone.  A mink also took out 3 old hens and our Rooster Buddy.  Chickens still warm when we found them, so now they are in the freezer.  

Front yard chicken and Chips, broccoli and ketchup.

No waste circular economy in real life.  Despite the extensive sharing going on in our garden, there is such abundance that there is surprisingly enough for all.  We are well fed, surrounded by beauty, and so grateful for all the birds, bugs, amphibians, reptiles, and even large mammals that share this abundance with us.

Eco-Sense Nursery:  Our heart is not in the plant nursery this fall.  Maybe something to do with not having any leaves on anything, or because our main supplier of plants was not able to fill our import order, but we are not going to have a fall season with regular nursery hours.  The nursery trees are not permanently damaged, and they will be fine come spring, but currently we have lots of partially defoliated plants.  HOWEVER, we will be open for booking private appointments this fall.  Any takers?  Send an email and let us know what you are looking for.

The future of the Eco-Sense Nursery: Next spring we will jump right into nursery season but will be focusing on a more specialized market with nuts and specialty grafting.  We will have a BIG SPRING SALE as we transition in a new direction.  More to come as we figure it all out.

Transition:  Like it or not we are ALL transitioning to a post carbon world.  Instead of being forced kicking and screaming, we are going willingly and joyfully.  We have been on this journey for some time and have recently made a bold move.  We are selling the diesel Smart Car and have purchased two eBikes.  WE LOVE THEM.  (Note: still have the farm truck for very limited use).  One bike is a mountain bike and the other is a cargo bike.


  • lower carbon footprint then an EV or our smart car.
  • More exercise. Feel fitter and healthier
  • Less expensive.  No gas, no insurance, minimal maintenance, powered by solar
  • More fun.  Seriously, We are having a LOT of fun on the bikes and have less stress by not driving in traffic.  Big hills are NOT an issue. Even our driveway is easy.
  • Less ware and tear on our gravel driveway
  • More credibility for walking (peddling) our talk
  • We can fix and maintain ourselves

Other changes:  We have invested in some high quality long lasting wool clothing instead of plastic hydrocarbon clothes.  The benefit is that we can keep the house much cooler.  As of today, we have not burned any wood yet this fall, but 15 C is starting to get a bit cool.  Happy to see the sun.  The solar thermal hot water system kicks butt and produces lots of hot water…enough to run the hydronic heating for a few hours everyday.  We may be back up to 18 C by the end of today.

A rant:  It wouldn’t be a proper update without a rant so here’s the latest from last Monday’s council meeting.  Halloween is coming up and its traditional in the Highlands to have some fireworks.

Many chemicals in fireworks are persistent toxic compounds and some bioaccumulate up the food chain. Many of these chemicals affect the soil, surface water and seep into the ground water and heavy metals are particularly toxic for kids.  Here’s a few examples:

  1. Perchlorates are used in the combustion products. They are chlorine based. Studies have found spikes in both surface waters and groundwater after fireworks displays.
  2. Strontium (Red), extremely reactive and dissolves in water. Can move deep into soil and groundwater. Impacts bone development in children at higher levels. Impacts aquatic ecosystems
  3. Copper (blue) – reacts with perchlorates to produce dioxins. Potent carcinogen and endocrine disrupter
  4. Barium (green)- carcinogen. bioaccumulates
  5. Cadmium (violet) – human carcinogen and bioaccumulates

Gord and I agued for not having fireworks due to the toxicity and to the potential of water contamination.  The rest of council voted to continue support for fireworks as the negative impacts to human health, ecosystems, and water are justified with the fun and excitement for the kids.  I argued that it’s not ok and we are teaching our kids that it’s ok to cause harm if it’s in the name of fun and tradition.  hmmm, anyone see a pattern here?  Once you know…you can’t un-know.  Enjoy the fireworks everyone!

Thanks for reading.




3 responses to “Life & Death & Everything in Between

  1. Thanks for inspiration on living (with death in mind) – Also really appreciated the information about fireworks. I have long thought they were a big pollutant, now I know that with more certainty! Will try to pass on that information. -Kim

  2. Resonating Bodies

    Hey Ann and Gord, thanks for this post. My condolences on losing your dad, Ann. It makes me recall your story about your creating your house with and for your family, and how supportive you are of one another. You know, reading about all that you do, and how you choose to live, I think you guys are among the most inspiring people I’ve yet met! Keep on kicking it! – Sarah Peebles in Toronto

  3. love the rant, the cultivated life, and death of your story

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