September 28, 2019

One Planet Living

A lot of people want to know what they can do personally to address the many threats to our environment. I do, too. 

A lot is said about how we have mistreated our life support system, but not much in the way of what can be done to reverse the decline. 

Some think that the system that created the problems can be trusted to solve them. But isn't green capitalism an oxymoron? Capitalism only works with infinite growth, and planet destroying infinite growth is not green. 

Anyone calling for system change, though, is seen as a radical on the fringe and summarily denounced.

What is needed now is a broad perspective that allows us to address our entire system, especially population, lifestyle and consumption.

Sooner rather than later, we will have to discuss strategies for One Planet Living.  It is not a radical notion. Rather, it is the only way to live on one planet.

The following is from "Why We Must Talk About Population" by Erik Assadourian.

One-Planet Living 
In Is Sustainability Still Possible?, Jennie Moore and William Rees explored what a one-planet lifestyle would look like (in a world with 7 billion not 9.5 billion) and their analysis shows that if we lived within Earth’s limits, gone would be the days of driving personal vehicles, flying, eating meat, living in large homes, and essentially the entire consumer society that we know today. 
Frankly, that’s fine with me, considering the ecological, social and health costs of modern society—but most will not accept that. And considering that—and that policymakers and economists and even most environmentalists still believe further economic growth is possible and even beneficial—it’s increasingly hard to imagine any scenario other than a horrifying ecological collapse in our future.

System change, not climate change. 

While we are working that, it would be helpful to start living like we only had one planet to depend on. 

That is something we can all do now.

September 27, 2019

Consuming Experiences Is Still Consumption

More than 75% of Millennials surveyed would rather purchase a desirable experience or event rather than a desirable trinket, item, doodad or things.

Before we give them too much credit for getting off the buying crap train, we should consider that consumerism also packages and pushes the purchase of experiences. 

These processed experiences and events also have an environmental impact, just like more tangible things like golf clubs and bar soap. 

When does a bucket list become another high impact shopping list? 

Moving forward we will be living lifestyles that don't centre on consumerism, regardless of what is being sold. Most of the stuff won't matter, and neither will the desirable experiences and events.

Unless, of course, those experiences include a farm stay to learn gardening, learning to mend and fix things, taking a walk in the neighbourhood, or acquiring a new set of skills for lower footprint living.

Having said that, this late boomer is in full support of Millennials altering the way they live and enjoy life. I support the ways they are changing the way we look at everything. Many in this generation are disruptors, and I love a little disruption.

I look forward to hearing from GenZ and their attitudes to stuff and experiences. Wouldn't it be something if 75% of Zeds surveyed would rather buy nothing at all? 

Another survey showed that 83% of GenZ respondents say that saving for the future is important, so maybe conspicuous consumption, and spending like there is no tomorrow as a way of life, is on the way out.

I can only hope that these generations will decide that they won't be the ones to put the final nails in our collective coffin, and denounce consumerism for the failed experiment that it is.

Will they "Be better"? That would be the ultimate, one item bucket list.

September 25, 2019

True Colours

The green pigment in leaves, a substance called chlorophyl, masks underlying colours that we don't normally see. 

In the fall, as chlorophyl diminishes due to shorter days and less heat, we see a leaf's true colours shining through.

We see their true colours, and that's why we love them.

So, like the leaves, we should not be afraid to let ours show. 


Our true colours.

True colours are beautiful

Like a rainbow.

- with apologies to Billy Steinberg, Tom Kelly and Cyndi Lauper

September 23, 2019

What Each Of Us Does Makes A Difference

If what we do as individuals doesn't matter, how does this happen?

A common reason for inaction against a world gone wrong is that individual actions won't make any difference. We demand that governments do something, then go home to continue our high consumption lifestyles. 

"What I do won't make a difference anyway."

But that is untrue. It is an abrogation of responsibility for one's decisions.

The best example I can think of is plastic waste. It is building up, and scientists say that it will enter the fossil record. 

Future archaeologists will learn about the Plasticonian Destruction layer that will be prominently seen in stratigraphic cross sections on digs across the planet. 

"Modern humans thought that the Earth would one day be paved over, but it was quietly smothered in plastic while everyone was looking out for steamrollers."

How did all that plastic build up? One person, one decision at a time. It happened by individual actions repeated many times over entire populations. 

What we do has a great effect on everything. Especially when there are so many of us sharing this planet. 

Every decision matters. What each of us does makes a difference, beneficial or not. No one is exempt. We have to decide what kind of effect we want to have on Earth.

We can not let governments or corporations off the hook because they have their parts to play, but we can also not say that individual actions don't affect anything.

We created this mess one decision at a time, and we can fix it one decision at a time. We have the power.

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. 


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.