September 21, 2019

Fall Means Time To Make Basil Walnut Pesto

This year's basil walnut pesto about to go in the freezer.


It's not even Fall officially yet, and I am already mourning the missing solar radiation. What we lack in light and heat though, is easily made up by the bounty of the summer we are now harvesting.

Earlier this week we harvested our basil before first frost came, which it did a couple of days later. And when the basil is in, it is time to make pesto.


Our Basil Walnut Recipe


4 cups (packed) fresh basil

1 cup toasted walnuts

4 large cloves garlic

1 cup olive oil

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


I put all ingredients into our 1970s Osterizer blender, saving the oil for last. I pulsed the blender, and used my wooden spoon to push everything down between pulses.

When nicely mixed, I put it all into ice cube trays to be frozen and used over the next few months. This is a very convenient way to preserve and dispense this yummy fresh food.

Usually we use our pesto on pasta. Recently we were thrilled to discover how to use it on pizza as an alternative to tomato based pizza sauce. 

We make a pesto and kale pizza that is a total taste sensation, that is made with our pesto, our dough, our kale, and mozzarella (we don't make that... yet).

Tomorrow will be pizza day as we now have lots of pesto, and our kale is going gangbusters due to the cooler weather we have been having lately. 

And what gardener doesn't like discovering new ways of using kale? 

Happy harvest to all the gardeners (and eaters) out there. Enjoy your celebration of good food, good friends, and good times.




September 19, 2019

Apples and More

First apple haul of the season.


I love hiking in the forest. I also love apples. Therefore, it is a great day when I can go for a hike, AND pick apples.

My last hike in the woods I checked out some new areas for apple picking. There are apple trees everywhere around here, and it is fun to find new trees. 

I found at least one promising tree, and stopped to fill my pack. That was at the start of my hike, so I spent the next hour and a half carrying my haul up and down and all around.

The extra weight made my hike a more concentrated work out than usual, and I felt it. 

When I got home I weighed my apples. It turned out that I had been carrying 2.7 kilos of fruit on my back, not a huge amount, but enough to make a difference.

I crossed "apples" off my grocery shopping list, along with what we are harvesting from our garden:

- tomatoes (which I brought in today due to a frost warning for tonight), 
- kale, 
- beets, 
- potatoes, 
- basil (also brought in to keep from the frost), and 
- green onions. 

I am enjoying being a producer of food, rather than a consumer of food. It is very satisfying to grow it, pick it, cook it, and eat it. Can't buy that feeling at the big box grocery store with any amount of cash.

Doing it ourselves means no (or low) cost, no packaging, no trucking across the country, no middle person, no corporations, and no chemicals.

All that (or is it "none of that"?), and spending glorious quality time outdoors.

Happy Fall to all Northerners, 

and Happy Spring to those of you in the south. 

Congratulation on just about finishing another voyage around the Sun. May there be many more.








September 17, 2019

Dorian: Our First Hurricane

No damage to our home, but the garden took a hit, especially the pole beans.


Our first hurricane was very exciting... of the dangerous and scary kind. It was also a good learning experience from a preparedness perspective.

Dorian, a post-tropical storm by the time it arrived in Nova Scotia, had the strength of a category 2 hurricane, the first one to hit the province since 2003, and our first since moving here in 2014.

Deadly Dorian came ashore north and east of us on Saturday, Sept. 07 at 6:15 pm with sustained winds up to 165 km/hr. In our area of southwest NS the winds were not as strong, buy they were still screaming in a way I have not witnessed before. 

Our power failed at 2:30 pm Saturday, before landfall, as the winds started to rise, and we were caught off guard.

It was surprising to be losing power so early, and while the winds were still relatively minor. Because of this, I did not get the bathtub filled with water. Unsurprisingly, water turned out to be our limiting factor.

The power stayed off for two more days. That meant "that the pump don't work cause the vandals stole the handle", as Bob Dylan put it. We were fine, but it made me wonder, "what ever happened to the hand pump on wells"? 

If our well had a hand pump in the yard for emergency purposes, we would have been fine. That is something I am adding to the list for our future dream property.

By the time the power failed I had already filled 40L of drinking water, which was adequate. Our ever-helpful neighbours brought over about 50 litres of water that really made a difference comfort wise for sanitary purposes. They have a generator, making pumping water possible for them.

Everyone was looking out for everyone else, and together we got through it. 

We used a single burner backpacking stove to cook on during the outage, and even managed to make pizza in our cast iron fry pan. As the storm raged outside, and the rain slashed against our windows, we dined on hot pizza, which was a good moral booster.

By sunset the shrieking winds were calming down. Dorian left a darkened and eerily quiet landscape behind. 3 days without power and modern conveniences felt more like a week. 

It was a few more days before internet was restored. It is just now feeling like life is returning to normal, whatever that means these days.

We did not beat our record for power outages (5 days on the west coast after a 155 km wind during a winter storm), but Dorian was a good reminder of what life might be like in a lower energy future. Or after the apocalypse.

It was quiet, and the night sky was outstanding. We played guitar and sang instead of listening to music on the computer. Life was good, but decidedly more difficult, and we became keenly grateful for the things that we take for granted when the power is on.

Next time we will be better prepared, and next time might be soon. Hurricane Humberto is on its way. 

Here we go again.


This broken old maple tree is just down the road from us.






September 6, 2019

The Scrap Art Of Sam Hundley




I think that one of the most honourable art forms is that of creations made from found objects. It is also one of the most democratic. Anyone can do it, because the materials can be found anywhere, and are free. 

I like the idea of not having to buy anything for your art... or anything else. 

Scrap art is also the most hopeful art form. So much in modern society ends up tossed out before its time. Found object art recognizes that waste, brings some of it back, and gives it new life.







Imagine being such an object, laying in the dust, only to be rescued because some special quality you possess caught the attention of an artistic eye looking for interesting, unloved objects. 

Joy! 

Saved, perhaps to be useful once again, which is something all objects strive for in their very being. Every thing (and every one) has a special purpose to fulfill. 

The artist feels that certain objects shouldn't be destined for the fossil record and forgotten, but should instead be picked up out of the dust and elevated to the lofty status of "beautiful artwork". 







And if not always beautiful, at least it is interesting and thought-provoking.

Such is the case in the scrap art of Sam Hundley. His creations are whimsical and witty, as well as strangely beautiful. 

These pieces are odd and imperfect, and they remind us that we are, too. 



September 3, 2019

Less Struggle, More Peace




I have many moments of peace at home.

There is no need for me to go anywhere,


except perhaps out to the garden, 


or the backyard woods,


or the couch 


for a nap.




There is so much to do right here in my house,


like contemplate a red, juicy tomato I grew myself 


sitting on the windowsill,


or sitting quietly and 


listening to the wind and rain outside.





At these times I know deep down that


the fewer material distractions I have,


the happier I am.





Less stuff equals 


less needless struggle.


Less needless struggle means


more peace.



August 29, 2019

Enjoying The Moment In The Garden

Purple pole beans are the highlight of this year's garden.

When did you last take the time to enjoy the moment and feel fully alive? 

When was the last time you have been fully aware of the breath going in and out of your body? 

Or were still enough to hear your own heartbeat and know that the blood was still pumping through your veins?

For me, one of those times came yesterday as I was laying in the grass next to my raised bed garden. 

Initially I wanted to get a different photographic perspective on things, but as I lay there, I felt all stress wash away. 

Something came into my awareness. A tiny, hairy beautiful beast.



A beautiful beastie in my garden. I had just finished watering, so that explains the water drops in the caterpillar's hair.



We spent some time together. "Enjoy now", it reminded me, and I did just that. 

Then I picked the purple pole beans and bush beans that will keep us fed over the coming winter. 

There is no such thing as a bad day in the garden. I enjoy every moment I spend there.


August 26, 2019

Save The Earth - Do Nothing

This looks like a nice place to lay down and do nothing for a few minutes.


“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water or watching the clouds float across the sky is by no mean a waste of time.”

- John Lubbock


I am liking this quote right now, as the signs of seasonal change are upon us. 

Precious hours of daylight are getting shorter, the hummingbird feeder is less crowded, the garden wants harvesting, and Southern Hemispherians are talking about spring again. 

I have to lie on the grass and enjoy summer before it is gone.

Back to the quote. 

Rest is good, but what's wrong with idleness? I fully endorse idleness. In any season. Anton Chekhov thought that "there is no happiness that is not idleness".

The world would be better off if everyone were restful, relaxed, still, quiet, sedentary, or idle, more often. Blasé Pascal agreed when he wrote, 


"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."

People in consumer cultures often report wanting to have a break from the drudgery of it all. Work. Shop. Repeat. When do we ever stop?

After several decades of labour saving devices, why do we still have no time to sit quietly in a room alone? Because in the non-stop world of consuming, our insatiable desires must be met 24/7.

What if we were to increase our relaxation/contemplation time by 5%? 10%? 50%? I can guarantee that would be a life changing event, and I speak from both a research perspective as well as personal experience.

Increasing our non-consumptive activities has the power to make us happier and healthier. 

And it would certainly result in less harm to the environment.

Save the Earth - Do nothing more often.









August 23, 2019

Uncivilization: The Dark Mountain Manifesto




Civilizations are fragile. Knowing that allows us to be ready for their inevitable demise. It is a cycle that has turned many times already in human history. It is now turning again.

Warning us of an impending storm is not pessimism or doomsdayism. It is being prepared.

When the approaching storm rages, I want to have my umbrella ready. That is why I appreciate projects like the Dark Mountain Manifesto. 

"Written by Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine, [The Dark Mountain Manifesto] marked a first attempt to put into words the ideas and feelings which led to The Dark Mountain Project. 
Think of it as a flag raised so that we can find one another. A point of departure, rather than a party line. An invitation to a larger conversation that continues to take us down unexpected paths."


I

WALKING ON LAVA

"The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilisation."

— Ralph Waldo Emerson


Those who witness extreme social collapse at first hand seldom describe any deep revelation about the truths of human existence. What they do mention, if asked, is their surprise at how easy it is to die.

The pattern of ordinary life, in which so much stays the same from one day to the next, disguises the fragility of its fabric. How many of our activities are made possible by the impression of stability that pattern gives? So long as it repeats, or varies steadily enough, we are able to plan for tomorrow as if all the things we rely on and don’t think about too carefully will still be there. When the pattern is broken, by civil war or natural disaster or the smaller-scale tragedies that tear at its fabric, many of those activities become impossible or meaningless, while simply meeting needs we once took for granted may occupy much of our lives.

What war correspondents and relief workers report is not only the fragility of the fabric, but the speed with which it can unravel. As we write this, no one can say with certainty where the unravelling of the financial and commercial fabric of our economies will end. Meanwhile, beyond the cities, unchecked industrial exploitation frays the material basis of life in many parts of the world, and pulls at the ecological systems which sustain it.

Precarious as this moment may be, however, an awareness of the fragility of what we call civilisation is nothing new.

‘Few men realise,’ wrote Joseph Conrad in 1896, ‘that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings.’ 

Conrad’s writings exposed the civilisation exported by European imperialists to be little more than a comforting illusion, not only in the dark, unconquerable heart of Africa, but in the whited sepulchres of their capital cities. The inhabitants of that civilisation believed ‘blindly in the irresistible force of its institutions and its morals, in the power of its police and of its opinion,’ but their confidence could be maintained only by the seeming solidity of the crowd of like-minded believers surrounding them. 

Outside the walls, the wild remained as close to the surface as blood under skin, though the city-dweller was no longer equipped to face it directly.

Bertrand Russell caught this vein in Conrad’s worldview, suggesting that the novelist, 

"thought of civilised and morally tolerable human life as a dangerous walk on a thin crust of barely cooled lava which at any moment might break and let the unwary sink into fiery depths."

What both Russell and Conrad were getting at was a simple fact which any historian could confirm: human civilisation is an intensely fragile construction. It is built on little more than belief: belief in the rightness of its values; belief in the strength of its system of law and order; belief in its currency; above all, perhaps, belief in its future. 




You can read the rest of The Dark Mountain Manifesto at this link. It makes for an interesting read, ending with "The Eight Principles of Uncivilization". 


#1. We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. 
All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. 
We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.




You can say this is all very harsh news (although it isn't really news at all if you have been paying attention in recent decades). 

I think otherwise. I think we live in interesting times, and that opportunities abound. 

It is not like what we have now is so great. I say let's let it die. Or better yet, how about we put it out of its misery, and move on sooner, rather than later.

Together, we will learn to live more gently on this good Earth. Together, we will respond to the new reality honestly and simply.

Together, we will go on. 



August 20, 2019

Consumerism From The Point of View of Artist Tony Futura


"We have the entire world at our fingertips and have no idea what to do with it."

Tony Futura is a German multimedia digital artist based in Berlin. He creates art that pushes the viewer to see materialism and the pop-culture obsession of modern Western life differently.

I can't get enough of that kind of thing, so will let Futura, and his art, do the talking.








"My work has a strong focus on visual ideas that combine objects and play with known images to create a new perspective on things we know from pop-culture, art, consumerism and everyday life."








"I like to work with points of view on things, so i am quite interested in what people think about certain images or other people like celebrities for example."















"I would rather spent money on high quality clothes then buying new stuff every couple of weeks."










"I always have the feeling that i need more time to enjoy life and work more on my personal projects."









"The search for new ways to see things is quite fun and there is not a single day where I can't stop thinking about what I can do next."




August 16, 2019

Work-Buy-Storage-Die?


In what is mistakenly called the civilized world, we like our houses. We have houses for people, and then separate houses for our cars, which are often attached to the house for the people. 

Lots of yards also have smaller houses for lawn and garden tools.

Many people also rent off site mini-houses (more like apartments) for all the extra stuff that doesn't fit into the people house, the car house, or the yard and garden house.

The USA has 2.63 billion square feet of self-storage apartments for stashing excess and lightly loved stuff. That number represents 90% of the global inventory. 

All that extra stuff storage is costing consumer/storagers. US industry revenue is over $30 billion annually, and grows in the region of 3% in recent years. More stuff!

Frequently, once stuff goes into a storage unit, the storer never pulls it out again. For various reasons thousands of storage units are abandoned and put up for auction every year. 

This seems like a good example of how we value things less when they are in great supply.


Stuff in a consumer society is in great supply, and all of it has to go somewhere. If the people house is full, and the car house is full, and the yard/garden house is full, that somewhere is a dusty storage block. 

It seems sad and futile, to spend a life working hard to get the money to support the acquiring and curating of your own unique set of stuff, only for some, or all of it, to be forgotten. 

What, then, is it all for? We have so much stuff that we need special places for all of it to live, and often, die. Is this the special purpose of human life? Is this civilized? Am I missing something here?


Work-Buy-Storage-Die?


A self storage locker is an obvious opportunity to do some downsizing and decluttering. Eliminating off-site storage, and all unnecessary, unwanted, and unloved stuff, saves money and promotes peace of mind.

We have known for a long time that having more wealth and stuff than we need does not increase our level of happiness.  

The happiest people on our planet are those that know what enough is, and are content with that. No storage required.






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