A recent rental was a four-level cottage along a steep, heavily forested hillside at a lakeside in Ontario

Trees growing through mid-level deck at steep-hillside cottage near Peterborough, Ontario. Jaan Pill photo

Trees growing through mid-level deck at steep-hillside cottage in Ontario. Jaan Pill photo

Since selling our house in Toronto, we have rented accommodations at a student townhouse residence west of Toronto, plus at hotels in Toronto, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Tallinn, and more recently at a couple of cottages east of Toronto.

The most recent rental has been a cottage built on a steep, rocky hillside – with a series of floors at different heights connected by an interconnected system of decks and stairs.

The rocky hillside offers evidence of geological history dating back to the end of the last ice age dating back beyond 10,000 years ago. The steep hillsides would in the past been at the shoreline of a glacial lake which would have had a much higher water level than is the case in the current era.

Same trees as in photo above. Jaan Pill photo

Same trees as in photo above. Jaan Pill photo

The cottage has trees all around – a couple of tall trees are growing right through an opening on one of the mid-level decks. Another tree is at the foot of stairs connected to a middle deck. It’s akin to living in a tree house. One set of stairs goes down to a deck on a quiet lake. It’s been a most refreshing place to relax and work.

The cottage was built in the 1940s by an immigrant from Europe. He had the house designed and built to replicate a hillside house in his country of origin. Given that construction dates from the 1940s, there’s evidence of the passage of time. Ongoing maintenance has been performed. Given the evidence of the passage of the years, the rental fee is relatively modest.

Jaan Pill photo

Jaan Pill photo

Both from the perspective of the physical features of such a building (in the midst of a heavily forested, wilderness area), and from a metaphorical perspective, this cottage constitutes a most interesting built form.

Google Maps and iPhone WiFi hotspot

The following notes are nothing new for some visitors to this website. Speaking for myself, however, I’m always learning new things.

With help from people who have prowess in such areas, I’ve learned to use a Google Maps app on a iPhone to find my way around country roads (with voice directions from the iPhone) in Ontario, and I’ve also learned to use an iPhone WiFi personal hotspot to connect a laptop to the internet. We’ve arranged for extra data usage with Bell, to enable us to stay online while we are away from regular access to wiFi.

Speaking as a person who did a lot of organizing work with cross-Canada fax machine messages not so many decades ago, I am impressed with such advances in communications. That said, the fundamental issues, that give us a reason to engage in community self-organizing, remain the same as they’ve always been.


By way of an update, I can add that using an iPhone hotspot to connect to the internet is enormously expensive, if done for any great length of time.

I’m writing the current update from a public library north of Peterborough. Much better to use such a facility (I’ve made a small donation to the library to help cover the expense) for WiFi than to depend on data usage on an iPhone.

I’m using an old laptop which has a failing battery. In order to keep the battery charged up, as I work (from my parked car) using a WiFi at a public library, we’ve purchased (at a local hardware store) a Black & Decker 120 watt power inverter. It installs on a socket below the dashboard of the car and features a plug that enables the laptop battery charger to be plugged into it.

Learning how to get things done, while engaging in a nomadic lifestyle for a while, is a great learning experience for us.

By way of a further update (May 8, 2020), I’ve found it a most remarkable experience to install an app on my smartphone that enables me to deposit a cheque without going to a bank. That is handy in the COVID-19 era and saves time.

I think of technological advances I have seen in many areas. I recall a time when photos and videos from digital cameras were low-resolution; huge advances have been made in that area. As well, I recall a time when community organizing work was done with long distance phone calls, Canada Post letter mail, and fax machines.

The underlying processes have not changed: Communication remains a matter of how the mind works, a matter of how the brain is wired. Then as now, face to face meetings, events, and conferences matter hugely.

A distinction remains, then as now, between a data-oriented approach to things, and an approach that relies more on story-creation (in absence of facts) than on data-acquisition. In some (but not all) cases, data-orientation is restricted to ‘hard science,’ and is cast aside with regard to matters involving power, hierarchies, and status.

A distinction remains, as well, between processes that are unchanging and processes wherein continuous improvement is a driving force.

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