July 31, 2014

Vegetables You Can Grow In The Shade

Looking for something to plant in a less than ideal location? Here are 10 veggies to plant in shadier areas with at least 3 to 6 hours of sun per day.

Some of these can even be planted now to be harvested before the cold weather sets in, depending on your location. I know I am itching to get some seeds in the ground as soon as I can.

Get ready, get set, GROW!

July 30, 2014

Steed And Covered Wagon In One

After a hard, hot day of driving even this cramped and chaotic bed is luxurious. I had
to move 3 guitars each evening before we could make music, snoring.

A good quest is generally aided by a faithful steed. A valiant and reliable workhorse can do wonders when it comes to covering great distances in a short period of time. Our van has been like a faithful steed AND covered wagon all in one.

As we begin to decompress from our continental crossing we are more and more grateful for our van for getting us here safe, sound, and with some gold coins left in our leather pouch.

The green containers contained our kitchen and pantry. They slid out from under the bed for use.

Our bed was made up of 5 large plastic bins. Each one was filled with our stuff, put in place, then all were covered with a plywood base. A 4" piece of high density foam went on top of the platform for a mattress.

Some of the best sleeps we have ever had were in our 'wagon' on this makeshift bed. It had a distinctively gypsy feel to the arrangement. It was simple and it was enough.

We couldn't have completed our quest without our commode.

Somewhat less conversation-ready is our commode. When it comes to going, the only more basic way to go is to dig a hole in the ground. Since it is often difficult to dig a hole, and since so many washrooms are not accessible (including some with the wheelchair symbol on them), it was crucial for us to have our own facilities.

There is something about using such a simple commode that makes one think of life and waste disposal in a completely different way. Every day we lived in the van we had to find a secure place to dump our waste. It quickly became one of the biggest challenges of our travel routine.

Our modern day self-propelled covered wagon made our quest not only possible, but enjoyable.

Once we got into the groove of living in such a confined space it became more pleasurable than we could imagine. It was spartan, harsh, and void of the everyday comforts most of us take for granted, but we love it.

Or maybe we are whacked out on adrenaline, adventure, freedom and new possibilities. We are also suckers for self-improvement in the vein of 'whatever doesn't kill you…' The trip didn't kill us and we are stronger for it. Or we will be after a week of naps.

Now our faithful steed is having a well-deserved rest after carrying us over 6000 kilometres to our new home. Its next task, after fixing one or two of its well worn shoes, will be when we are ready to forage for furniture.

July 25, 2014

If Life Is Getting Better, Why Do People Feel Worse?

Quotes from:  The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse by Gregg Easterbrook.

The Problems

“A person needs food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, and transportation; once attained, these needs are fulfilled. Wants, by contrast, can never be satisfied. The more you want, the more likely you are to feel disgruntled; the more you acquire, the more likely you are to feel controlled by your own possessions.”

“Americans and Western Europeans live in mainly favorable conditions, yet are experiencing a sense of letdown, as many no longer can dream that the years to come will bring them significantly more than they already possess.”

“For at least a century, Western life has been dominated by a revolution of rising expectations: Each generation expected more than its antecedent. Now most Americans and Europeans already have what they need, in addition to considerable piles of stuff they don’t need.”

“Typically, regardless of how much money an American today earns, he or she estimates that twice as much is required to “live well.””

“As incomes rise, people stop thinking, “Does my house meet my needs?” and instead, “Is my house nicer than the neighbour’s?”

The Solutions

“Positive psychology finds that people who take a grateful attitude toward life, counting their blessings rather than inventorying their complaints, tend to be healthier, happier, and more successful than others.”

“New psychological research suggests it is in your self interest to be forgiving, grateful, and optimistic – that these presumptively altruistic qualities are actually essential to personal well-being.”

“Perhaps, at some structural level, for every old problem solved, a new problem will always be created, meaning we should not expect a better life to improve happiness.” 
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