Downsizing by 51%

We are giving up hour 1200 square foot (plus 600 sq ft unfinished basement) townhouse. In fact we've already given it up in that we are renting it out. Our family of 4 is renting half of another house with another family of 4 who has the other half of the house - worthy of another post. Within the next 18 months (Lord willing), our family of 4 will move into a 762 square foot flat in the brand new Dragonfly Cohousing complex Crescent Heights, Calgary. We will also have access to 90 cubic feet of storage space (10 sq ft of floor space).

The new space is officially a two bedroom unit, but a 6' X12' storage room has a window and door, so it can serve beautifully as our son's bedroom. To create storage and study spaces, all of us will be sleeping in loft beds with our clothes hanging underneath them and shelves making up the raised bed frame. Amber and I will have our office space in our bedroom. Since Acadia will have the most space per capita in her bedroom, she will have to accommodate the most storage in her bedroom (probably in her closet).

But, since Amber and I have been amassing stuff since we were old enough to understand the concept of private property, we face the issue of ridding ourselves of stuff. Even with clever shelving (like a 7' high book shelf that sits above couches and the dining area) and innovative space saving, we would be in a tremendously cluttered space if we didn't eliminate as much useless stuff as possible.

So, we have already begun to trim the fat.

  1. We no longer have a guest bed (there will be some available in the common house). 
  2. We have 2 living room chairs for sale on kijiji as our couch, loveseat, and ottoman will be sufficient. 
  3. I brought my 500 CDs to the used CD shop where they gave me $450 of in-store credit (I turned down the $150 cash) for 150 CDs. I've already picked up 40 DVDs with the credit. The rest of the CDs went to Good Will.
  4. Before our move in July, I brought 2 boxes of books to a used book store (and then Good Will). After the move, I went through my library again and shed another 4 boxes. I think I'm down to 6 boxes of books now.
  5. Amber and I have 5 boxes combined of university stuff, newspaper clippings, cards, letters, and other personal effects that we plan to digitize over the next couple winters.
  6. Four boxes of photographs and photo albums are on the chopping block too - all to be digitized and then tossed.
  7. The kids have gotten rid of countless boxes of toys they no longer play with.
Here is a list of the following excuses I could use not to downsize:
  • I already have it, why
    • throw it away (landfill abuse)?
    • sell it (below cost)?
    • digitize it (hours I could spend volunteering)?
  • I already have the space, why pay more to have less space closer to downtown and in a community?
I guess that's it. The positive reasons to downsize:
  • We would be more focused on quality and purpose, not quantity when purchasing stuff.
  • More people in smaller space forces interaction.
  • Less space 
    • to clean
    • to heat
    • to light
    • to accumulate junk
  • Theoretically less driving, more transit use since we live downtown (true for everyone else in my family, not me).
  • Having less stuff will force us to depend on others (others who have downsized will depend on us) and share more resources


Crimson Lake: On Broken Trees and Galavanting Youth

In mid-July our family went camping at Crimson Lake Provincial Park. I invited Blaise to join me on a morning hike around the lake, a 10 km walk with zero elevation change. He was eager and I let him carry the compass and I carried the snacks, water, extra clothes, bug repellent, sun screen, and camera.

We did not know that a massive wind storm had passed over this region only 3 days previous knocking down hundreds of trees. It seems all the trees that were knocked over fell over the path causing major obstructions. Blaise and I ambled up and over and under and around the massive fresh log jams. The fir trees were the most difficult, but also the least frequent.

The obstacle course added a couple hours to our trek, but they also presented some of the most interesting features to our journey. The lake was lovely and brightly reflected the sky, when we were beside it (only 10% of the trip). Dragonflies and damselflies hummed across our path. The path was devoid of other travellers. A light breeze blew threw the new leaves above us.

But the most striking thing was the wine red colour of the exposed wood underneath the broken bark of the collapsed trees. It made the tree seem more human with its flesh exposed. Their smooth surface was still moist and the leaves on the branches were still living. The trees seemed to be begging to be straightened out, have splints fastened and salve applied to the wounds.

The other noteworthy part of the trip was Blaise, my son recently turned seven years old. The fact that he talked almost non-stop for five hours is not unremarkable. The fact that he walked the entire 10 kms without complaining impressed me - especially since we were delayed so much by the windfall.

When Blaise turns 13 (or 14 or 15, we'll see what works), I want to be hiking the Appalachian Trail with him: his rite of passage into manhood. I have little doubt that he will rise to the expectation and I am certain that at the end of the 6 month trail he will have achieved manhood.

My little man.