Sunday, 20 August 2017

Collaboration and boundaries

Collaboration and boundaries of surface dwelling

These are two elements that I need to improve in my life, and since this journey of sustainability keeps moving forward, they must be considered.

So the centre of my little ojo journey has been my awesome 1966 Avion Mobile kitchen.  I really have a tremendous amount of affection for my trailer.  She started as a camping trailer, and was renovated with the help of friends and local contractors mostly in my driveway.  In my driveway ojo has sat since our last service of 2016.  She received a little make over, a high shine polish, but mostly she has been waiting for her next adventure.

So collaboration, while I am channelling my inner tank girl as I tow and haul, as much as I might hate to admit it, Tank Girl needs a Mad Max.  Two hands are always better than one.  No one can be successful all on their own, it takes team work and trust and respect.

So in my real world career I have been 20 years with an International Engineering company.  I get to work with 99% super smart extremely professional top of the line dudes.  I have been lucky to be part of some big negotiations, and travelled all over the world with men, I have generally been the only girl.  I really miss these guys, 20 years with a company things change, people retire.  We all have some of our best stories from these trips and times, and I feel really honoured looking back at the respect and camaraderie that I was treated with.  I miss knowing that I am part of team and that I know the team has my back, deep trust and loyalty we had that. 

Becoming an Entrepreneur has been a rather eye opening and somewhat humbling back to basics experience.  Instincts become key as you can no longer rely on the pre-approved evaluation of person as defined by their location on an organization chart.  There is no workplace policy for sexual harassment or verbal abuse.   I quickly realized how much I took for granted the structure of what I called the “Borg” element of our workplace, and what an awesome boss that I had for 17 years of it.  

So call me uptight what ever, but I just don’t take kindly to being yelled at in the workplace. Small business is like the Wild West of the Workplace.  Kitchens especially, and I am equally as guilty here as I had a boyfriend on the truck cooking, it completely changed the dynamic due to the level of familiarity, and as a result yelling and swearing at me the owner, which would never of happened if a true employer/employee relationship.  

So new challenge is how to move forward as a small business and surround myself with people who I can respect and trust, and who can trust and respect me.   Trust is truly a challenge for me, pretty sure I have got some well earned  trust issues so a huge amount of consideration went into moving ojo.

Boundaries, you don’t have to say yes to everything and everyone, since there are no org charts to review each individual must be considered on their own demonstrated merits, it’s like re-discovering critical thinking.   It’s scary sometimes being in charge or your own life, when there is one else to blame for your good or bad decisions.  Perhaps I ruminate too much, and my inner me & I have it out on future decisions.

Social media can be a pretty cool thing for exchanging ideas and connecting old friends from high school, among them that stood out online was Harry White with his concept for Surface – I was an immediate fan of his concept and volunteered to make his first brochure 5 years ago.  

Surface has been developing as a small urban farm, and I have been hanging out, helping out and otherwise pondering life and options.  One thing I have learnt on this journey is beware the boastful person.  If the only time you hear how great a person is – is by their own words, that should be a trigger for the truth finder button.   On the other hand, when kind words, compliments and trust are placed in people, that is the strongest indicator that the person is existing in a place of goodness, so hanging out at Surface with Harry and his Surface dwellers has been a refreshing reassurance that genuine cooperation and collaboration and trust are alive and well.  

So Ojo has a new home, a little tweaking and polishing to come along with some planting and harvesting at Surface Farm.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Beet the System

Beet the System

I have an abundance of beets thanks to Manorun Organic Farm, and have spent the afternoon, roasting and pickling.  It’s easier than you think to pickle and preserve, and can be a great meditation practice, my pantry is going to look pretty nice at the end of this growing season.  I am genuinely trying to buy in season and preserve. There is a lot of money to be saved, plus it is way healthier.

So,  solo cutting, roasting, & marinades, leaves me thinking to two summers ago when we had just finished building our canning kitchen up at Soldaat’s Poultry, some fun times were had there chopping veggies with Plan B Organic Farms .  We had lots of preserves going on, and it was awesome, fun and tasty…. but we couldn’t make money at it.  Perhaps someone smarter than I could of, but the bottom line is the cost of small scale Artisan production is too high for the market to support if you calculate all the costs in.  Food preservation tends to only work well if your raw materials are free and labour is free and you enjoy it. Small scale canning companies are virtually non-existent in Ontario for a reason, they are not fiscally viable.   I had my whole business plan wrapped around a food truck and small scale condiment production, I never fully anticipated the regulations and cost associated with a commercial kitchen, and food production.     

During that time and still I have managed to juggle a “real” job, event planning, so every now and then I was away for a few days, so I took off and left the kitchen to the home team, we were in the final stages of Inspection with the City, about a week away from our “green cert”, and we were running the truck on location for fries and lunch.    Upon my return I found my team had decided to make pickled beets instead of being on the truck, and the health inspector had visited.  It was sort of at that moment that I realized how flawed this whole idea had become, I had just paid about 250$ just wages and materials for about 40 jars of pickled beets,(about 7 $ cost per jar) that I couldn’t even sell because no green cert, plus all the regulations for labelling not considered.  I took the beets home and they sat in my garage, and it bugged me when I saw those beets.

Now there are two sides to every story and if we change the way we look at things the things, the things we look at change.  When I returned from my trip and saw the jars of Beets, I was not excited, in fact I was clearly disappointed that I did not come back to a spick and span ready for inspection kitchen and an open food truck, my team however was so proud of Beets, cause there were no customers and they had kept busy and made something…….. They looked at me like what’s her problem. I looked at the Beets and thought, this is going to be a problem. And there the beets sat in the garage and when I looked at them it bugged me and when my team looked at them it bugged them that it bugged me, so they figured let’s eat beets.  I suppose there are worse things in life than having 40 jars of beets in your garage.

So how did I go from happy to preserve – crank the tunes – chop veggies and fight for my right to host a Farmers Market to eyeing mason jars of beets with extreme disappointment. 

Food is not for profit.

Food is for consumption, food is for community, when profit becomes the driver ethics are lost.

The reason I ever contemplated getting into the food industry was after becoming a cog in the Animal Feed Industry.  A thoughtful series on this was recently aired on PBS

Two years later, today I canned just for myself, pickles and beets,  having an abundance of local food is a nice thing. In my own kitchen for myself, and it was peaceful and comforting.  Pickled Beets, & Pickled Cukes, and about 20 jars cost me about $50.  Or about 2.50 per jar, no labor included just produce and jars.    

Now that is way cheaper plus organic and local. 

To truly beat the system we have to become engaged in our food production, by growing our own and preserving in season, just like in the “old days”. 

Find your local farmer and find out what is in season and abundant and preserve it. 

Food is not for profit.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Power of Words

A week away with thoughts and work are a welcome release from the daily ongoing shit of life, and shit news.  TV and Radio off another week on the road, seeing just how easy it is - or not to work remotely.   This time Rondeau Provincial Park - Lake Erie! 

This week was freaking HOT - which was good cause my solar panels were rocking and the only time I felt the need for a little 120V was when I had to say thank you to my generator for charging my laptop.  Other than that - it was really cool sleeping and working in my little silver tube.

So always a portion of my work, while some is legitimate business work the majority of my work is on "I" or my ojo - my self, and my "me", cause there is always work to do on self, especially since my 49th birthday is fast approaching and I find myself single yet again.  So when I wasn't working I was listening and studying the 7 Hermetic principles of life.  Click the video below for the 4 hour long audio book, this is some serious summer reading/listening.  I am inspired!  Powerful words!

The first Hermetic principle is the principle of Mentalism - all things are mental.
Have you ever had a strong mental (or physical) reaction to the words of others, words can change everything.  Yet they are just words and don't necessarily constitute actions, just thoughts.   Within love relationships especially words can be hurtful, and words can end relationships, or perhaps even the lack of words can end relationships.

Sometimes relationships are better off ending, it is sad when you invest your time and money in people and relationships and you are left wondering, how did I even think that was a good idea.  After investing years into a relationship that was little more than window dressing,  it is sad that there was no deep love to hold us together, but some relationships are for now and not forever, and what I learnt was perhaps more important than the relationship itself.

I learnt to trust my instincts, if it feels like a lie it probably is, we are not crazy, we know when we are being lied to, but sometimes it is easier to let it go than face the truth, because when you know the truth you cannot live the lie.   

Un-balanced relationships are doomed to failure, in todays day and age especially, sadly all marriages in my family have failed, my B-Daddy family - all divorced and the recent B-friend family all divorced.  Whether you are male or female, especially when it's financial, eventually that's gonna get old.  People on 3rd 4th and even 5th marriages, what is the point, just repeating the same mistakes over and over out of fear of loneliness.  

There really is no longer a place in society for Patriarchal views of women and relationships, and especially when those men that cannot or choose not to live up the role of a traditional provider, yet they still see them selves as a Patriarch because they have penis.  As women we talk about equality like it is already here, but we have a long way to go to changing the consciousness of this.  It starts with us and what we allow as our reality.  

So single again, -  I would rather be alone then find myself in a loveless marriage or worse relationships instead of ending in their due course endure as perverse swingers, holding on to the entangled purse strings they are so scared of losing. There’s no sexual sophistication here, just narcissistic abuse and typically of women.  

Dancing alone is not a bad thing.

It's OK to love yourself enough to say Hell No! - I am not putting up with that shit.

Being alone doesn't mean being lonely, it is exciting and rewarding.   You will discover that you can do all that, - you just have to actually do it.

My favourite part of this week was driving down the road,  cowboy hat, windows wide open and the music blaring with my shiny beast in tow, knowing that the world is my oyster and my 49th birthday is coming up in September and it will be the best ever, cause 50 is the new 30 and a new life chapter in my life is being written, and I feel like it is going to be the most exciting yet.

Where is the next adventure.........?

What would you do if you could do anything?

What's stopping you?

And PS.  while I am slamming some men - I should give a big shout out to my B-Daddy - even though we are not married today, I respect and admire his dedication to our warped little family, and sets the bar for future relationships.  When you have a man that takes care of the needs of his children despite being divorced it makes the short falls of other men that refuse or are incapable of providing for their family whether in love or money a stark bleak contrast.   

Friday, 7 July 2017

it feels like summer......

Hat’s off to all those small businesses that run at break neck speed in the summer time to compensate for the slowness of a Canadian winter.

The Ojo  Summer kitchen is parked in the driveway, we didn’t sell it, partly because it is loved so much and partly because perhaps there is still a small flicker of a dream that the ojo kitchen still holds another story to be told.  It’s refreshing and relaxing to witness the rush of summer business while sipping cocktails with my feet up and a sun tan.

That’s not to say that Ojo is not busy, we are still busy with the doing, the garden is planted and is for the most part thriving, most of the seeds have come up, although I was sadly disappointed with how many of the seeds never sprouted.  Planting in the back yard for the first year where only grass has been grown before – I am pleased with my moderate success.  I am also pleased with the social aspect of planting, the planning and seed sharing, and wood mulch sharing, and plant sharing was nice, I look forward to the sharing of the bounty with all those involved.

The Ojo office is finally mobile and on the road after 5 years of on again off again manufacture -  I proudly sit here now in the office with my mobile Wi-Fi – giving it a go – is it possible to live and work from an Airstream in a Provincial Park?  So far I am giving this life a solid thumb up.  With a few creative projects ruminating in my head, spending a week in quiet isolation with lap top and dog is much more productive than you might give credit to.

Interesting projects that I have been volunteering with in addition to my bread and butter gigs (Thank you ) …….

Save Our Spring initiative to protect the Ancaster Well located at Governor’s Rd and Sulphur Springs Road.   I urge my local friends to please take the time to familiarize yourself with this issue.  Water may very well be the most important issue of our times and protecting a free and safe water source in our community is worth your effort.  The impetus to shut down this well is bureaucratic and does not serve the public in any way.  Get involved – volunteers are welcome!

The Ancaster Fair continues to be a project that is near and dear to my heart.  I love our fall fair and I am looking forward to attending it this year as opposed to watching it pass by from inside the window of the food truck.  I am honored to chair the Publicity Committee and sit on the Board, it is thru this involvement I have been lucky to get to work with a cool team of media professional’s Mike McCurlie of MJM Media and Michael D of V-Card TV – I am really excited about the new song and commercial for the fairgrounds and I really hope everyone enjoys.    You can catch a sneak preview here –
Another sweet little project that I am happy to volunteer for is Surface Farm -  when you find peeps with a like-minded attitude it’s hard not to want to get involved.  This little gem of a farm is going places, and I am happy to lend a hand starting with the Surface website and farm certification.

And the mobile office, thanks to Sky Roam all things are possible one of the big drawbacks to working on the road is connectivity.  While file sharing can be painfully slow there seems to be pockets of efficiency that make up for it. For 8$ per day unlimited Wi-Fi – with connectivity for up to 5 devices – and runs on batteries – Sky-Roam could be a families best camping friend. While Netflix was a challenge – I could send, and receive mail and stay relatively up to date with a little patience.

The mobile kitchen may be parked but this mobile office is quite pleasant, even on a hot summer day and while our business model may be shifting away from food service, Ojo will stay committed to eating local, one meal at a time, and one day at a time, on this journey of sustainable living.

So, where to next with the mobile office, stay tuned for the next chapter……