April 28, 2020

Still Waters

I walked to fast flowing water in the woods. It's energy and exuberance were inspiring, but too much for me in my mentally drained state.

I turned to the slow water channel for some relief, and approached it with the spirit of Wendell Berry. I sat and absorbed the quiet nothingness, thinking of his words.

"When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds." 

"I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief." 

"I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.

"For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."

I return home feeling refreshed and revitalized, ready to forge ahead and meet the challenges of the day.

The still waters do it again, and I am grateful. For the moment, I feel free.

April 25, 2020

What Are Your Favourite Simple Living Books?

Millions of people have recently, through no fault of their own, become involuntarily un-jobbed. Has there ever been a better time to do some reading about simple living? 

Any time is a good time, but now is especially appropriate since many people have time to read, and plenty of reasons to want to learn more about getting by with less.

That leads me to a comment on a recent post, in which a reader (Mary) wrote, 

"...something I wanted to ask this community: what are your favourite simple living-type books?"

I have been wanting to ask readers the exact same question as I have been thinking about creating a "Readings/Resources" page to add at the top of this blog.

How nice, then, that as soon as the question was asked, you began to respond.I think it was Madeleine's comment that got us started.

"Hello Mary, off the top of my head here a a few all-time favourite books:  
Timeless Simplicity: Creative Living in a Consumer Society by John Lane - beautifully written and more philosophical than "how-to". I love it and have read it many times. 
Retrosuburbia: The Downshifters Guide to a Resilient Future by David Holmgren - a brilliant book that will give you hope for a better future and tell you how to do it (huge and about AUD $80, but well worth it). 
Down To Earth by Rhonda Hetzel - A timeless classic and especially good for anyone new to the how-tos and whys of simple living.  
She has a brilliant blog and it could take you a year to plumb the archives! Perfect for times like these."

Then, Mela left a comment that described a blissful evening including a pot of tea, a purring cat, a sofa, and a "frayed paged" copy of Charles Long's How To Survive Without a Salary, which has been described as,

"...more than a guide to financial management: it promotes a lifestyle program which advocates avoiding consumer traps, using budgets, analyzing needs, and finding alternatives to buying".  

I sure can get behind that. 

I'd like to see a few more titles in that series for the coronavirus lockdown, and for the new world that we will live in when it is over. 

Several come to mind:

- How to Survive Without A Grocery Store

- How to Survive Without Capitalism
- How To Survive Without Fast/Processed Foods
- How To Survive Without Killing The Planet
- How to Survive Without War, Police, and The State
- How to Survive Without Billionaires 
- How To Survive Without Avocado Toast

What are your favourite simple living reads? 

You can leave your selections in the comments, where Mary originally popped the question, or post a comment on this page below if you haven't already over there. 

Thank you to everyone that has weighed in already. We look forward to further responses, and to compiling them all into a master list for everyone to use to guide us toward gentler, slower, lighter, and in the end, better living.

April 22, 2020

Another Pledge On Another Earth Day

My Earth Pledge 

Out of my love for Earth's systems and all its varied life forms, and from my respect for their needs, 

I pledge that:

1. I will live as simply as possible in order to do the least amount of harm possible.
2. I will only consume what I need.
3. I will use low carbon forms of transportation (walking, biking, carpooling, bus, train).
4. I will enjoy a plant based diet.
5. I will grow and collect as much of my food as possible.
6. I will treat all resources like the precious gifts that they are, use them wisely, and be grateful for them.
7. I will not buy products that are harmful in their making, use, and disposal.
8. I will minimize my purchase and use of electronic devices.
9. I will not consume news from corporate media giants.
10. I will not work for, invest in, or otherwise support a harmful system that exploits people and the Earth for pleasure and profit.
11. I will express my commitment to this pledge through the way I live, rather than the things I say.
12. I will do everything I can to make sure that we don't need Earth Day 50 years from now.

Or more pledges. 

Meaningful action toward immediate positive change is what we need on this very day, not more words.

Happy Action-Oriented Earth Day, everyone. 

April 20, 2020

There Is Only This Moment... At Home

I like being at home full time. Homemade samosas, anyone?

So now everyone is spending all their time at home, and going out is difficult. It is hard to do regular things, hard to go places and hard get stuff done. 

Welcome to our world.

Ever since Linda went into a wheelchair everything has become more difficult. Since before it happened I have been committed to being her caregiver.

That has meant transitioning from full time teaching to full time working at home. It was easy for me. I like home. I like it a lot.

I started writing this blog in 2008, for example, because I knew that I would be spending my time at home and I thought I better have a few creative outlets to keep me sane.

That turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.

Now, some say we are all in lockdown. We are homebound. Everyone is a shut in - it's not just for a disadvantaged small segment of society anymore. 

I see it in a more positive light, more of an opportunity. 

You see, I don't believe that what is "out there" is as good as advertised. For the most part it is mindless dreck manufactured to keep the masses content, lethargic, and distracted.

And working, working, working. I think being at most workplaces is going into a lockdown situation. Most people are workbound.

And when I go to a shop or palace of entertainment I feel shut in. Can't breathe.

Plus it all costs a lot. And takes a lot of time.

But what is it all for? Why do hunter/gatherer societies have more leisure time than we do? How did that happen?

Like a tiny tribe of two, Linda and I have been living locally (about a 30 km radius) since 2005, and have been more location-based since about 2012 (about a 15 km radius, but most often keeping to our 2 acre property).

It has been so enjoyable that the time has passed swiftly. I miss no part of my former "free" life with more choices, because it came with an accompanying high level of stress.

Infinite choice is not a good thing whether we are talking consumer goods or where to go, or what distractions to indulge in. Humans get stress-lock, rendering us unable to make any choice. We shut down.

It is far less stressful for me to know there is nowhere to go, nothing to do. I can simply be.

This is it. Just this place, and just this moment.

And they are beautiful.

Welcome to my world. It's not so bad with the right attitude.

If you don't know now already, I sincerely hope you take this unprecedented opportunity to open to the simplicity of this moment in time.

Do it at home now, and ignore the mayhem and chaos.

Let it all go, because it is time for you to be you, and through that, connect with others, and the world, in ways not previously known possible.

Because we were too busy.

This is the way Zen Master Wu Kwang puts it:

“When you really face the fact that there is nowhere to go and no choice, then you enter your situation completely. 

Your mind does not keep saying, Well, maybe I’ll do this, maybe I’ll do that. 

There is no choice. There is only this moment, moment by moment, by moment. 

And at that point, you can open to the simplicity of your being and of your connection with others. 

From that, clear action is possible, compassionate meeting is possible.”

There is only this moment. Let's enjoy it as much as possible right now, right where we are at.

April 18, 2020

Consumerism: The Shine Is Off, The Thrill Is Gone

People liked being able to fly where ever they want whenever they want. It was easy and cheap and kind of fun. That may be changing.

In the beginning, most all of the coronavirus infections could be traced to one specific group of people. 


Herding more and more people into smaller and smaller spaces, then blasting them across the planet together is what you would do if you actually wanted to spread disease farther and faster than ever before in human history.

Travellers are the new typhoid Mary's, spreading any new virus far and wide, and all the while refusing to stop, because unlimited pointless travel is what our "freedom" has been reduced to, along with the "freedom" to buy whatever, whenever.

Cheap flights and consumer goods are the only things that have been democratised since the 1920s. Everything else has been de-democratised.

If this virus lockdown ever passes, will people fly for non-emergency reasons ever again, to willingly become the next super spreaders? 

All in exchange for being poked and prodded and rubber gloved, then crammed into a flying tube petri dish, or on a massive floating petri dish, for transportation to the far reaches of the globe. 

For what? 

Another foreign distraction to an exotic place where the locals would rather that you stayed home and terrorized your own neighbourhood.

As former consumers continue to stay home, they will slow down enough to contemplate what has been going on for the last 100 years. Ugly truths will arise, and the shine will come off of a large part of pre-pandemic life.

Many of the things we did and believed and accepted as "normal" in pre-times, will look much differently in the post-times New Order.

The cheap, easy, and meaningless international travel sector is likely to lose its lustre early.

Demand destruction is the rule of the day right now. Many things that should, will simple fade away. Consumers will have moved on, and will be consuming something else. Something more local, and probably, more food-like.

The shine is not only off travel, it is coming off consumerism overall, and fast. That and everything else.

Those who currently and erroneously think they are in charge, will be lucky if in our upcoming collective introspective moments, we don't also dull to the idea of returning to slaving for them while they simultaneously destroy our standard of living for personal gain.

What if they threw an "Open The Economy" party and the majority chose to opt out and stay home?

They can bedazzle this crisis, that crisis, and the next crisis all they want, but the fact remains - the thrill is gone.

It's not worth it, consumerism.

We want to break up. Really. 

It's not us, it's you. You're toxic and abusive, and destroy everything good that you lay your greedy hands upon.

If you were an actual, breathing person you would be in jail. Or rehab. Or the hospital. Or mental institution. Or Community Justice speaking circle.

Or more likely, six feet under.

Your light has gone out. You have imploded into a great black (sucking sound here) hole from which nothing in your orbit escapes intact.

Consumer Capitalism? 

The People called to say,

"Thank you for your service. 

We'll take it from here."

It is going to be hard work, but then we will be able to actually enjoy life in a way that is not as harmful to the planet and all its inhabitants.

April 15, 2020

Nature Is The Essentialist Of All Services

Nature is not a capitalist system: these are the services she provides absolutely free. 

Stock markets tank, erasing trillions of dollars of make-belief wealth.

Nature rolls on.

The cogs, gears and levers of the "unstoppable" capitalist machine finally stop - with a whimper.

Nature rolls on, better than ever.

Bars close, gyms close, toy stores close, all the non-essential crap closes.

Nature rolls on.


is the


of all services.

No Nature, 

no economy.

Let crony capitalism fail on its own.

Bail out Nature.

April 13, 2020

Nothing Has Changed Except Everything

It is tempting to think that not much has changed for Linda and I over the last few weeks, because from the comfort of our own home, that is how it feels. 

While mostly true, it does not tell the whole story.

Pre-corona Linda and I were already adjusting to a big change in the way we live, having chosen to give up our wheelchair accessible van and try carlessness. 

Since we have been living very locally for a very long time, we were only using our vehicle to buy groceries, and it was getting to be a very expensive grocery-getter. We had to let it go, and have no plans to replace it with another fume spewing money pit.

As soon as we let it be known that we were wheel-less, the helpers came forward, as they always do. We are so grateful to live in an area where community still means something.

Even before the lockdown started, I was hitching a ride a couple of times a month with neighbours when they were going to town (they usually go in every day or two, so there is plenty of opportunity). 

They would always ask where I needed to go, and my answer was always the same - "just the grocery store". 

Most of the time, food is all we need. We are simple that way.

Now, because Linda is considered "immunocompromised", as her caregiver I have to be extra cautious about exposing myself to The Virus. As such, I have not been to the grocery store in person for over a month.

Other helpers (you can't have too many) had already offered to pick up grocery orders for us if we ever ordered on line. At the time we didn't think we would need to go that way, but, everything, it seems, is changing. 

Our last grocery order was placed on line (our first time ever) for pick up. They needed about 3 days notice, and called us when it was ready. 

We called our neighbours, they went down to the store, parked in the designated spot, and called customer service. Helpful front line worker/heroes then brought our order outside, and put it in the open trunk of the car. 

Our friends parked in front of our place when they got home, and left the trunk open. I went out, emptied our order into our home, then texted them to let them know I was done.

Wow. That felt weird. 

But it did get groceries into the house without me being exposed to something that could possibly harm my best friend, and for that I am grateful.

I leaned on the car and felt a hankering for the good old days (a few days ago it seems) when I could see my neighbours. Or bike to the grocery store to bring home small orders. Or touch the bank door handle without thinking it could kill me, or Linda.

I don't need to get out much, but I like to enjoy the times that I do.

As I closed the trunk of the car the neighbour's 5 year old son came out of his house and approached. 

He was getting closer to me. I didn't know what to do. 

Do I need to protect both of us? 

Should I run? 

I didn't. 

He came to within a metre of me and stopped. Looking up with sad inside eyes, he said, "I can't wait until I can help you water your garden this summer".

Now a garden is a food acquisition method I can get behind. And no, I did not hug that sweet little helper. I had to hold myself back... 2 metres back. 

"I can't wait either", I said to him from a seemingly safe distance. Then it was back into lockdown for both of us.

See you in the summer garden, my little helper friend.

That won't change. 

On another note, something else that has changed, is that lots of people are dying of COVID-related illness. That includes one of my favourite singer/songwriters, John Prine. 

To him I say, "It was a wonderful 50 years of beautiful memorable songs, and I thank you."

"Plant a little garden", he sang.

Great advice.

April 9, 2020

Rural Social Distancing

 Good thing birds don't have the coronavirus, because on my last bike ride I saw more of them than humans. Birds don't have it, right?

On a 15 km ride, I only saw 2 humans. They were out in their yard doing some spring cleaning. 

I passed them at a safe distance, and waved instead of stopping and hugging and kissing and handshaking and doing some "moist talking" at close range. 

Of course, I wouldn't have done that before, either.  

I stopped at a pond. The cattails were opening. They looked like fuzzy white-molded hot dogs on a stick. 

The breeze was just strong enough to blow their seeds off in wispy puffs.

I stopped by a new park on one of our local lakes. No people. More birds. 

The park was an old Department of Natural Resources property that was used to store materials, and fix vehicles and equipment. There was an office building on site as well, which had been torn down since the last time I was here.

There was also a new strategically placed picnic table in a cleaned out area. It proved to be the perfect place to take a break, relax in the sun and take a drink of water.

No people. Lots of birds. That is rural social distancing in a nutshell. Nothing to worry about, because the birds don't have it, right?

In the picture above you can see a spruce grouse crossing the road. 

"Why?", I wondered. 

Maybe it was social distancing. 

From me.

April 4, 2020

Pre and Post-Pandemic

Wanted: wilderness hermitage (like this one in the valley behind my home).


- watch sun rise
- make and enjoy good food
- don’t believe the oligarchs and their politicians
- cherish the company of my life partner
- commune with Nature
- fight The Man
- sit quietly, do nothing
- keep my constant friend, Death, away a while longer
- watch sun set


- watch sun rise
- make and enjoy good food
- don’t believe the oligarchs and their politicians
- cherish the company of my life partner
- commune with Nature
- fight The Man
- sit quietly, do nothing
- keep my constant friend, Death, away a while longer
- watch sun set