December 30, 2022

This Is Enough

Happy in the morning
I open my cottage door;
A clear breeze blowing
Comes straight in.
The first sun
Lights the leafy trees;
The shadows it casts
Are crystal clear.
In accord with my heart,
Everything merges
In one harmony.
Gain and loss
Are not my concern;
This way is enough
To the end of my days.

Wen-siang (1210-1280)


December 29, 2022

Where Shall I See The Moon?

The clouds of sunset


Gather in the western sky,


And over the silent silvery Han


Rises a white jade moon.


Not often does life


Bring such beauty.


Where shall I see the moon


Next year?


- Daily Zen


December 28, 2022

Walk In The Snowy Woods

Since we had no tree, no presents to unwrap, no guests, have no kids, families are thousands of kilometres away, and don't eat turkeys, what to do on the fourth day of the new solar year?

Go for a walk in the snowy woods.

On the 25th it was about minus three Celsius with 70km winds blowing the snow horizontal.

Leaving my back door I crossed the gently sloping field to the edge of the forest. On the way, the wind nearly pushed me over.

Once in the woods the change is dramatic. There it is completely sheltered from the wind among the spruce trees. Unlike crossing the field to get here, it is perfectly still and quiet and the snow gently falls straight down. 

Above in the treetops I can hear the wind and see branches of trees swaying. But down on the ground - crickets... if there were crickets this time of year.

After a short while of moving down the slope through the forest, I reach the sugar shack road. The rough track makes for easier walking so I take it the remaining way down to the sugar maple grove where the shack sits.

A little past the resting maple grove and empty shack I reach the brook at the bottom of the valley. This is my destination and turn around point.

The brook is running high because it is not cold enough to freeze all the tributary streams feeding into it. The sound of rushing water is soothing. 

When I am there I forget everything else, and this is all there is in my world for a few minutes. 

Then I must head back up, lest the setting sun catch up to me before getting home.

This time of year if I take too long it will get dark, cold and scary quickly.

When I get home I will share my pictures with Linda, and she will ask me what I saw on my hike, like she does every time. 

This is what I will report: no wildlife this time - not a single track in the snow, no signs, no sightings, no bird calls. 

Everything in the forest is peaceful, quiet, and snuggled down till spring. 

It is officially winter now, and snuggle down is what I will do once I return home. 

Feel the peace, the quiet, and the opportunity to do nothing, except perhaps indulge in  the simple pleasure of going to bed early.

I start to get sleepy as the darkness descends. Zzzzzz...

But wait!

There are still those beets resting in the moss bin in the garage. They are waiting for me to turn them into pickles and put them in jars for canning.

It may be winter, but the gardening work is not quite done yet. 

Those beets will have to rest a while longer in their mossy bed.

December 25, 2022

No Gift Is A Gift

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift."

― Mary Oliver

If you got up this morning and found an empty Christmas box or bag, excellent. 

No gift is a gift.

Think like a cat for a moment. They know the value of the emptiness.

Take advantage of that, and have a great day!

December 24, 2022

Dark, Cold, Scary

“They want us to be afraid. 
They want us to be afraid of leaving our homes. 
They want us to barricade our doors 
and hide our children. 
Their aim is to make us fear life itself! 
They want us to hate. 
They want us to hate 'the other'. 
They want us to practice aggression 
and perfect antagonism. 
Their aim is to divide us all! 
They want us to be inhuman. 
They want us to throw out our kindness. 
They want us to bury our love 
and burn our hope. 
Their aim is to take all our light! "

― Kamand Kojouri
This time of year is a good metaphor for the times in which we live - dark, cold, and scary.

Imagine watching the sun leaving in late fall and not being sure if it would ever come back. Yikes!

But, the sun always returns. Always. We can be sure of that.

And as the sun always returns, the human family always comes together to banish our dark times.

This time of year we celebrate a "general call to happiness, the bustle of spirits, and stir of the affections".

What bosom can remain insensible?

It doesn't matter how dark, how cold, or how scary it gets. Together we will prevail. We always do. That is the memory that keeps us going till spring and beyond.

While the sun returns no matter what we do, banishing humanities dark side will require some serious elbow grease.

We are up to it. 

Roll up those sleeves. Every little thing we do, every decision we make is precious and matters.

Each of us can be a candle in the darkness that threatens to take over.

Each of us can be the light than banishes that dark shadow, the cold, and the fear.

December 21, 2022

No Gifts? Not Necessarily A Bad Thing

An interesting look at changing attitudes towards gift giving from Tyler Cowen:

The research is clear: Americans are becoming less generous over the holidays. Not to sound too much like a Scrooge, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.

In 1999, Americans said they planned to spend $1,300 (converting to 2020 dollars) on holiday gift giving. In 2020, that amount was about $800. These numbers are based on Gallup data, but retail sales figures show a broadly similar pattern. From 1935 through 2000, gift-giving tended to rise with disposable income. Since 2000, gift-giving has fallen as national disposable income has risen.

…One hypothesis is that Americans are simply getting less generous. Yet charitable giving is robust, so that’s probably not right.

An alternative possibility is that Americans are too rich for gifts to make sense. It’s not only that billionaires are hard to buy for; the rest of us are, too. You might think your friends already have most of the important things they need, so how can you buy them something meaningful at the margin? This logic doesn’t hold for all Americans, but perhaps the higher earners account for a big enough share of the gift-giving total that it exerts a downward pull on the numbers.

The cheeriest scenario — again, speaking strictly as an economist — is that Americans are realizing that gift-giving often doesn’t make much sense. If you give me a gift and I give you a gift, neither of us is quite sure what the other wants. We might both be better off if we each spent the money on ourselves. Under this hypothesis, Americans are not becoming less generous, they are becoming more rational.

Another rationale for gift-giving is that it tightens familial and social bonds. Perhaps it does, but it is not the only means for doing so. More and better communication — which has also become cheaper and easier over the last two decades, with email, texts and cheaper phone calls — may make gift-giving seem less essential.

There is also the possibility that we, as a society, have lost that “Christmas spirit,” whatever that might mean. After all, secularization is rising and churchgoing is declining. Christianity is less central to American life. Whether this social development is all good or bad will of course depend on your point of view.


This year, like most years, my gift-giving budget is zero, although I did donate to our local food bank. 

Less emphasis on gifts is an interesting trend I find heartening. 

What do you think? Are you spending less on gifts this year? 


December 19, 2022

Happy Crappy Consumer Christmas?

People feel they have to do this...

Because crass consumer capitalists smelling an opportunity for profit turned this...

Into this...

And then this...

Resulting in this:

Buried under that pile of consumerism is the true spirit of Christmas, and along with it all memories of where it all began - a pagan celebration of Winter Solstice, the day the light begins to return to the world.

Happy Whatever You Celebrate This Time Of Year.

Hopefully it isn't Crappy Consumer Christmas, but instead a more meaningful celebration of love and light. 

This is what the human family has always done at this time of the year. 

The darkest days have passed, and together in compassion and solidarity we have made it through another year together.

The light returns! 

Love to all.

December 13, 2022

The Choice Before Us

Gandhi said that the Earth can support our need, but not our greed. More truthful words can not be spoken, but how often do you hear about that today?

The choice before us today is the same it has always been:

1. Provide for a small population of high consuming humans satisfying their greed. 


2. Provide for a large population of humans simply meeting their needs.

Unfortunately, the psychopaths in charge of consumer nations seem to have chosen the first option. 

You can call it "The West", "The Golden Billion", or whatever else. It doesn't matter because the result is the same.

Consumerism is a club, most of the world is not in it, and the plan is to never let them in because there are not enough resources for everyone to consume like we do. 

While those in charge have their own choice made, what will we, the people, choose? 

Because it is us after all, and how we choose to live, that really matters.

The world says: "You have needs -- satisfy them. You have as much right as the rich and the mighty. Don't hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more." This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. The result for the rich is isolation and suicide, for the poor, envy and murder.” 


― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

December 12, 2022

Frugal Santa

Why isn't Santa extra frugal by now? 

You would think that over the years he would have heard something about the damages of conspicuous consumption, and changed his ways.

By now he might have twigged to the fact that material possessions can not provide lasting happiness, or that giving people everything they want is a recipe for disaster.

In 2022 Santa's workshop should look more like a thrift store than a mega factory in China.

Here is my letter to my mythical frugal Santa in which I share my wish list:

Dear Frugal Santa,

All I want is a bunch of old towels. I use them a lot in my house for all kinds of things, most importantly taking care of Linda.

That's all.

Thank you,

Frugal Caregiver

If Santa won't make the shift, we can. 

This holiday season consider frugal gift giving. If, that is, we are gift giving at all in this late stage of The Time Of Too Much Everything.

“Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.” 


― Elise Boulding

December 10, 2022

Low Tech Solutions

"Interesting possibilities arise when you combine old technology with new knowledge and new materials, or when you apply old concepts and traditional knowledge to modern technology."

I love the simplicity of tried and true low tech solutions. 

One of my favourite places to visit on the internet these days is No Tech Magazine. It is ironic to be using a high tech device to access low tech information, but these are the transitional times we live in.

"We refuse to assume", the magazine says, "that every problem has a high-tech solution." I agree.

We should all be considering low tech solutions as we prepare for an uncertain future where we are certain to have less of the energy that drives complex high tech systems. 

I think about this a lot when the power goes out, or when I receive our ever-increasing electricity bill.

For example, since our property owners installed a heat pump in our rental home, we have a total of three different methods of heating. 

For high tech solutions, our home has a wood pellet stove, an electric tankless in-floor heating system, and now also a heat pump. 

None of them work in a power outage. And out here in rural Nova Scotia, winter power outages are common.

When the power goes out it would be real nice to have a basic wood stove. Then we could have heat and the ability to cook despite having no power. 

It is looking like low tech will be our "new normal", which will be a lot like the "old normal".

High Tech vs Low Tech

Snowblower - snow shovel

Power tools - hand tools

Vacuum cleaner - broom

Gas or electric lawn mower - reel mower

Electric blanket - wool blanket

Clothes dryer - clothes line

Car - walking, horse, bicycle

Dishwasher - hands, sink, and a dish cloth

Air conditioner - ceiling fan

Electric space heater - hot water bottle, warm sweater 

See more low tech solutions here.

What are your favourite low tech solutions that you use in your life?

"Most mainstream responses to climate chaos today rely heavily on high technology and big business. We rarely hear about solutions – often rooted in the past – that are localized, low-tech, and don’t advance the interests of large corporations." - Chris De Decker

December 8, 2022

Fighting Mindless Consumerism Since 2008

Mindless Consumerism:

A world-consuming epidemic of collective madness, rendered so normal by advertising and the media that we scarcely notice what has happened to us.

Here at the Not Buying Anything blog we have been fighting mindless consumerism since 2008.  

It's taking longer than we thought.

But the fight goes on.

Thanks for noticing what has happened to us, and joining in on our blog.

Mother Earth appreciates your efforts, and so do I.

"The point is that a consumers’ society cannot possibly know how to take care of a world and the things which belong exclusively to the space of worldly appearances, because its central attitude toward all objects, the attitude of consumption, spells ruin to everything it touches.” 
                            ― Hannah Arendt

December 5, 2022

Extreme Frugal - No Hair

No hair - no problem.

No, it's not alopecia. I don't have cancer, and I'm not a buddhist monk. I just love the simplicity and savings of going sans hair.

As times get rougher, many of us are looking for frugal ideas beyond washing out plastic bags for reuse, or using coupons at the grocery store. 

Extreme economic times call for extreme frugal responses.

For a few years now Linda and I have been cutting our own hair. More recently, I have convinced Linda to join me in adopting a new hairstyle (if you can call it that). 

The new hairstyle is no hair.

“Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one’s self?” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think Linda is just as beautiful without hair as she is with hair, and as her caregiver, not having to add haircare to my list of things to do is a major time saver and stress reliever.

Now we use our electric hair trimmer straight up to shave our hair as short as we can get it every two or three weeks. 

It's the old buzz cut I used to get as a kid, and it still works today, and for the same reasons. 

Now I know why my mom chose that route - it is maintenance free, and with four boys in our family, it made a big difference at bath time. 

I should note that our sister was not required to join us, although mom probably wouldn't have minded if she did.

The buzz cut also leads to major savings, whether its for your kids or the whole family. Since adopting this extreme frugal idea, our budget for hair care has been reduced to zip, zero, zilch.

No paying the hairdresser. No buying shampoo, or conditioner, or brushes, combs, or hair products of any kind.

We use the same bar soap for everything, and it works just fine. 

Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on any hair care product? They are all  chemical labs in a bottle. Skin is very absorbent, and all those chemicals put on your outside, end up on the inside.

For the price of one haircut a person can purchase a trimmer that will last for years and provide ongoing savings.

I know it is not for everyone, but if you are looking for extreme frugal ideas, and don't really give a shit about what other people think, this might work for you.

Just think of it - never have a bad hair day again.

December 2, 2022

Dumb Consumer Item Of The Month - Flying Car

The latest offering of the flying car idea.

"We're not on other planets, there are no flying cars, and the only robots we have in our homes just sweep the floor."

- Albert Brooks

How long have we been hearing about the dream of becoming airborne in cars? As long as there have been cars.

William Samuel Henson and John Stringfellow—the Wright brothers before the Wright brothers existed—patented a flying car in... 1841.

And do we, in 2022, have flying cars available to the consuming public? Not quite yet, even though hundreds of companies are working on it... still. 

That's because these are an even dumber idea than cars were. Flying cars are like cold fusion - always 10 years away.

But that does not seem to be stopping those that want to cash in on supplying yet another dumb consumer item to a stuff hungry public.

Who knows, perhaps some day someone will make a flying car that doesn't cost millions of dollars and won't kill the occupants or anyone on the ground, and regular people can take to the skies. 

What could go wrong?

I look forward to Idiots In Cars videos on Youtube to be joined by Idiots In Flying Cars videos. 

Remember - consumerism does not need to make sense, it just needs to make money.

Do you have a nomination for the next Dumb Consumer Item of the Month? Let us know.

Thank you to Russ for this month's suggestion.

December 1, 2022

The Solution That Shall Not Be Named

How To Use Less

One potential answer to our current global resource problem is never talked about. Ever.

It is The Solution That Will Not Be Named.

But I will name it.

Use less everything.

I know. Gasp! 

That's anti-everything our system believes in. We can't have infinite growth if we all use less.

If we don't have more everything all the time we will destroy utterly the economy, democracy, freedom, and civilization itself. 

Surely we would be headed toward living in caves grunting about the good ol' days when we used too much everything.

But you know what? Living with too much hasn't made us any happier.

Inevitably we will start naming the solution that so far has not been named.

It is the only thing that will save us, and is actually doable, unlike any of the system's fake scams.

Buckminster Fuller's idea is one that I have adopted and recommend, which is to "do more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing".

Just because this is currently the Voldemort of solutions does not mean it's not a good one, or even the best one.

So simple. 

So doable. 

So effective and satisfying.

Use less of everything.