Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

Small changes make a big difference 2

Several weeks ago, we had an odd visitor on our new front porch.

Such a strange place for a monarch caterpillar to land and decide to stay – steel roof overhead, pressure-treated wood all around and gravel below. No plants for at least 200 feet.

As time went on we kept a close watch but obviously not close enough because one day we went in for lunch and came back out to see the monarch had completely emerged.

I see it as a positive omen – good things to come. Our first resident (although temporary) going through such an amazing transition – choosing our front entrance for its display!

We have spent so much time checking every detail, every wall – spacing, insulation, backing; counters – height, depth, edge finish; windows – height, direction and mechanism for opening; electrical – outlet height, location, switching, for every appliance or piece of equipment; plumbing – sink depth, shower size & slope, height of handles, backing for grab bars; flooring – colour to mask tire marks, slip resistance, durability; doors – width, window height, direction of swing, handles; closet and pantry organization, appliance choice, storage (no basement)…all keeping in mind access for now and for future.

Everyone makes these same decisions when they  build a house, but we have made them through a different lens. What it will mean for me is less energy expended, like, having a shower, meaning more energy for the other things in life.

With more than two years of planning the final product can’t come soon enough. The plan is to be in for Christmas. Casey and his team (Kelly, Mike, Chris and Trevor) have been working hard along side White Stone Steel Roofing, Wayne Smith Electrical, Scott Townsend Plumbing, Advantage Insulation, Pioneer Family Pools, GeoTeck Heating & Cooling and Supreme Concrete. Like a fine oiled machine (from our perspective) there have been a few days with so many people working that there was no space for me to park!

These pictures are the last time I would be able to see end to end – now the roof is finished, windows in (all but one), electrical in the walls, drywall is up. Still lots of decisions to make, but (I think) for the most part they are the easy ones…

I plan to open our home to anyone who wants to see what Universal Design looks like in practice. The goal – making a space accessible to all without you even realizing it. Kind of like the monarch, small changes that will reveal something beautiful.



  • Barb Hood says:

    Julie that’s beautiful.Monarchs are definitely good omens!

  • Joan Rose Hukezalie, OCT says:

    In Newcastle, we go to an event where children catch the Monarch Butterflies who are feeding on the milk weed on the north shore of Lake Ontario. You see it is on the monarch flight path to Mexico.
    It is a great learning and teaching opportunity. Some of the organizers, ie, a biologist from Trent et al. Travel to Mexico to try to find a Canadian butterfly. I suppose the know where the flight ends. One of the miracles of life. My Granddaughters love it!

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