August 20, 2014

Simple Pallet Furniture

This simple pallet couch reminds me of a Turkish hookah lounge chill space.

Linda and I both like frugal and functional when it comes to furniture, but neither of us have ever considered stuff made out of pallets. It turns out that these ubiquitous wooden shipping flats can be used to make all sorts of fun furniture on the cheap.

In "Trying To Keep It Simple", NBA community member Marion left a comment that introduced me to the world of pallet furniture.

She said, "We found that pallets could be a nice, cheap and easy way to make temporary furniture during these empty-house periods. Add a bunch of wild flowers in a glass, and home you are."

Pallet coffee table is a simple centre piece.

I had never thought of pallet furniture before so turned to an image search to see what was possible. The results got me as excited about building stuff as the last time I researched alternative furniture made out of cardboard.

I was intrigued with pallet furniture since I like the idea of upcycling this valuable, untapped resource. 500 million pallets are manufactured every year in the US alone. 30% of those are only used once, then stockpiled or discarded.

Platform bed made out of repurposed pallet wood.

While I don't have the resources currently to transform lowly pallets into lowly functional furniture, it would fun to make a few things when I get my tool bench built up to production-level standards.

A lot of pallet furniture is built for outside, but there is no reason it could not be used inside as well.

The world doesn't need another single-use pallet tossed on the pile, but it sure could use more affordable furnishings built in a sustainable way.

A funky desk can be built for next to nothing with a few tools and some creativity.

August 18, 2014

A New View On Life

The recent full moon rising over the forest outside our living room window.

Our new home is giving us a new view on life, and one which we are enjoying very much so far. I think that what we see out of the windows of our homes affects the brain and quality of life. I am happiest when I can see nature when I turn my attention to outside.

A far-away view from my home is essential. I like a vista that my eyes can saunter over as I enjoy a hot beverage at sunrise, or while I cook or do dishes at the end of the day. 

I don't want to see straight lines and 90 degree angles, nor steel, concrete, and pavement. Or traffic. When I look outward I want to see wildlife, big skies and glorious sunrises and sunsets.

Every window in our new home is an idyllic painting full of light and colour.

Once while living in the big city I looked at a cheap apartment in the basement of a 10 suite 1950s building. The bachelor unit had one high window - it looked out at the blank brick wall of the building next door 3 feet away.

As I looked around I wondered how long it would be before I lost my mind if I actually lived in this marginal location. Or would it be motivation for meditation? I didn't stick around to contemplate that one.

I ran to the street, lungs gasping for air and my eyes searching for a more enjoyable, expansive view.

The view looking north east toward the Bay of Fundy and Annapolis Valley.

In our previous home on the west coast we were among the last North Americans to watch the sun set. Now we are among the first to watch the sun rise. After years of witnessing sunsets from the comfort of our home, the sunrises we see from home now have the power to draw us out of bed at ungodly hours of the early morning.

It is difficult to witness the spectacle and not feel invigorated for the rest of the day.

Linda birdwatching in a sunbeam at one of our bedroom windows (before
we moved our bed in from the van).

Our kitchen window makes doing dishes preferable over using the dishwasher.
This is a spot in which I don't mind lingering as the sun sets.

Our neighbour mowing his hayfield with his son along for the ride.

I was doing dishes a few days ago and watched my neighbour mow his hayfield. The next day I watched him collect the hay into bales. The day after that, and every day since, I have been entertained by a woodchuck whose burrow was exposed when the grasses were cut low.

I have never seen a woodchuck anywhere before, let alone from the window of my home. It is a whole new, and exciting view of life here on the east coast.

August 15, 2014

Not Buying Equals More Time And Freedom

Taking time at an outdoor piano - better than shopping.

"I can't, I don't have enough time" is a phrase often heard among groups of non-hunter/gathering humans. Freedom and time both seem limited when we choose to engage in consumer-based lifestyles. But it is a choice we make.

We can also choose not to participate in the endless work/spend cycle that places unreasonable restrictions on our lives. Currently, the way our system is set up everyone MUST do some sort of work to earn money to survive. But no one is forcing us to spend the money that we sacrifice so much of our freedom and time to amass.

When we cut our consumption we reduce our spending and are less reliant on jobs that don't fire our passions. When we spend less we can choose work that is more fun and less harmful. If you cut most of the shopping out of your life imagine how much more time you would have.

Having more time is like winning a lottery, but a lottery that matters. Having a lot of money is not necessarily freedom - having lots of time is.

In Nothing To Lose But Our Illusions David Edwards  says, "Once you start to see through the myth of status, possessions, and unlimited consumption as a path to happiness, you'll find that you have all kinds of freedom and time. It's like a deal you can make with the universe: I'll give up greed for freedom. Then you can start putting your time to good use."

The wage slave/consumer life just doesn't offer the same payoffs as living a more spontaneous, unencumbered life free of excess, waste and greed.

What would you do with more time? More freedom? For me my non-consumer lifestyle has freed up time for writing, walking, playing guitar and singing, cooking and baking, and caring for Linda, my best friend.

And some day I would like to gather a crowd while singing and playing an outdoor piano. Or a guitar. Or a kazoo.

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