OK, OK, February. You win. You officially kicked our ass this month. My little frugality campaign was no match for the gale force of your ill intent. I surrender.
Now maybe we can pick up whatever remains of us emotionally and physically after the travels, and the funerals and the viruses and hospitals and just quietly limp away to wait for March to come roaring in.

The Buy (almost) Nothing campaign came to a crashing halt the day we bought last-minute tickets to Wisconsin. We went home to bid goodbye to a good friend who lost her battle with breast cancer. We spent a week back home just taking solace in the good community there, reminding ourselves of everything waiting for us when we get back this summer. Sharing some good time with good friends.

Sharing other things, too. Like, oh I don't know, secrets, wine, tenacious viruses. As if flipping us a callous middle finger, February sent me back to Montreal with a feverish baby who proceeded to basically lie on the floor and whimper for an entire week. Not that I really noticed, I was too busy lying in bed whimpering. Jake was trying to keep it all together and my extended family acted as backup reinforcements and general harpies. They made soup and said things like "oh, that doesn't sound good" and bugged us to go "do something" for the kid. Like get antibiotics. You know, so we can treat that virus.

Sigh. So I daresay we might be coming out the other end of this onslaught now. It was brilliant and sunny today and I took a walk with Milo in the backpack in the forest and it felt so rejuvenating. My lungs threw the windows open and shook out their stagnant bed linens. We had a family nap in a sunny corner of the living room afterwards which was beautiful beyond words. And this little bean joined our planet last week, and that made me really happy. I've been excited to meet him for some time.


Day 7, B(a) NM - Oops.

Today put the (a) in B(a)NM. And I was doing so well. Until I slipped. I realized I had so few clothes for Milo in the next size and so I just took a quick look - just a little peek - at Ebay, just to satisfy my curiosity. Well, I gave curiosity an inch and it took a foot. Two auctions, twenty minutes left, the whole ugly scene was over faster than a thursday night sitcom. I feel so dirty, I think I'll go have a cookie (yes, homemade)...


Day 5, B(a)NM

The weekend was a good one, we rekindled some old friendships and Milo even got to see papou and yiayia sing in their choir. Another beautiful walk on Mont-Royal reminded me that I'm not crazy for thinking that some of the most fulfilling things to do are absolutely free. Speaking of spending, the New York Times posted an interesting article today about how Americans are actually starting to cut spending. Even the rich ones. And that has financial analysts clucking like hysterical chickens. Makes this little no-spending project feel relevant...


It's been quiet around here he last couple of days as we try to absorb the fact that we will not see our friend Cindy again. It's just too big, like the milky way galaxy. I can't get my head around it. We are headed back to Madison for the weekend to be there, to laugh, cry and send her on her journey with a great big wave of love from her friends and family.


Goodbye, friend.

Let children walk with nature
Let them see the beautiful blendings
and communities of death and life
their joyous inseparable unity,
as taught in woods and meadows,
plains and mountains,
and streams of our blessed star,
and they will learn that death is stingless indeed
and as beautiful as life. - John Muir


Day 2, B(a)NM

If the snow and ice keep coming, I'm never going to want to leave this house the entire month of February and our challenge will be a cinch. Today, I started my second baby hat knitting project with some delicious baby alpaca wool I scored at this gorgeous wool store. Totally forgot how to cast on so I cast about online and found this useful video that shows you how! Thank you internet (smooch!).


Day 1, B(a)NM: Snow days and rules of the game

Ron and Debbie's back 40, near Malone, NY

Winter 2008 will go down as one of the snowiest in many years. Around here, this is seen as a good thing as we have been able to unpack the skiis from the basement and put them to some use. We are also slowly testing the limits of a one-year-old in cold weather and luckily he seems to be displaying the more hardy northern european constitution of his father then the wimpy mediterranean one of his mum. Me, I would be one of the first to lie down and take a nice nap in the snow on a Mt. Everest expedition becasue it's too cold to keep going.

We've had some great excusrsions out of the city recently. The above photo montage is from a wonderful weekend spent in the company of Jake's old roomates in the Adirondacks near Malone, NY. We were hiking the "back 40" of Ron's incredible forest retreat in frigid -15 celsius weather

The first official day of our campaign to buy almost nothing is underway! J and I talked about this with another friend last night, who, between bouts of uncontrollable laughter at the self-flagellatory nature of this idea, kept quizzing us on the loopholes rules of the game. And so, for the sake of clarity and marital harmony, here they are:

1. The mission and spirit of Buy (almost) Nothing Month is to - obviously - consume less. But it is also about fostering a spirit of self-sufficiency and creativity. While it's highly impractical to avoid buying anything in the middle of winter in an apartment that isn't ours, we need to ask ourselves, with every action that involves our wallet: is it necessary, can we do without, can we do differently?

2. Groceries are OK, takeout sushi is not;

3. In celebration of the self-sufficiency aspect of this effort, purchase of necessary raw materials is OK. So ice-cream is out, but chocolate chips to make our own cookies is in;

4. Work-related expenses are exempt;

5. Transportation costs are a grey area. Bus tickets are good, since they're public transportation. We'll need to do a gut-check on gas for the car, since the car really is a luxury but, let's be reasonable here, we're in the middle of winter in a big city with a little kid;

6. Entertainment counts as consumption. That includes dinners and drinks out on the town, video rentals, concerts, magazines, etc. We can, however, use barter. Like "hey, if we can borrow your video rental for the night, we'll cook you chocolate chip cookies (see rule #3)".

Day 1 has been good so far. Tonight it's dinner at Sophie and Nico's. I'm making caramel pots-de-creme from this amazing recipe. Good thing I have all that muscovado and demerara sugar lying around...