October 31, 2023

We Were All Free Nomads

Today's trendy tiny homes are certainly not the first, or tiniest, homes on wheels. They are a time honoured tradition in many cultures, including the Roma.

The vardo, a horse drawn wagon, replaced the Roma's tents made with flexible sticks covered in fabric.

The much persecuted Roma go on in spite of the state's need to settle and control everyone everywhere all the time. 

By force, if necessary.

The horse drawn tiny home of the Roma could be the original tiny home (by todays definition of <400 sq ft and on wheels).

A tiny home today still offers a certain freedom, like they always have, such as avoiding a mega-mortgage. 

Or government officials "helping".

Alas, the Roma's way of nomadic freedom seems to be a thing of the past. It will not be tolerated. 

That doesn't mean you can't still find ways, you can. Because our simple living, freedom-loving genes are constantly trying to express themselves. 

We were ALL nomads at one time. It lingers in all of us.

A whisper, near dormant, and rarely heard plea for most of us - for the simplicity of living light enough to travel.

Like we used to. 

Closer to nature and each other. 

Less stuff.

More free. 


We are going to have to redefine "progress" because it's not doing what they say it is.

Progress is taking us forward to a set of goals, but whose goals?

Not the Roma's. 

And not mine. 

Also, for many the "improvement" part of the definition is missing. You can't still call it progress if what you are doing is not resulting in making things better. 

That's something else. 

I call it failure.

I wonder.

Can it actually get better

than a simple life,

free on the land,

with a vardo, 

a horse to pull it, 

and a group of nice people to share it all with?

October 28, 2023

The Most Radical of Acts

In our society 
has become
the most radical of acts
It is truly the only effective
one that can - and will -
overturn the corporate powers that be.
By the process of directly working 
we do the one thing most essential to

October 26, 2023

Pantry Revisited

If you cook all of your meals from scratch, and in my house we joyfully do, there is nothing better than a fully stocked pantry.

But what to put into it? That depends on the foods you like to cook and eat, so will vary from home to home.

I posted another pantry list a few years ago. While it has differences with the list following, both contain essential ingredients. 

Most lists agree on at least the basics required to become independent in providing healthful, wholesome, and mouthwatering meals.

The following excellent list is from the Homestead Survival Site that can be found here. 

Main Dish Basics

1. Brown Rice – It’s a healthy, hearty, and a quick cooking base for so many meals.

2. Pearled Barley – Barley is often overlooked but it’s a tasty filling grain when you’re in the mood for something a little different.

3. Pasta – Unless you make all your own pasta, it’s handy to have a few boxes around especially for busy evenings. Just add a jar of homemade tomato sauce and you have a delicious homemade meal!

4. Potatoes – Potatoes pair well with so many recipes and store well as long as they’re kept in a cool, dry, and dark place.

5. Onions – A diced, fried onion is a great way to start almost any meal plus they’re cheap and store well.

6. Garlic – Like onions, fresh garlic is a good way to add tons of flavor without a lot of money or effort.

7. Dry Beans – Black beans, pinto beans, great northern beans are all tasty, protein-filled options to stretch your grocery budget. Plus they keep in the pantry almost indefinitely.

8. Chickpeas – Like beans, they last nearly forever and are a great, cheap way to add protein. Make hummus or throw them in soup or curry dishes.

Baking Essentials

9. Whole Wheat Flour – An essential in any kitchen, whole wheat flour is so much more filling and nutritious than white. If you want the freshest, tastiest flour purchase a flour mill and wheat berries to grind your own on demand.

10. White Flour – While not as healthy as whole wheat white flour is still important for thickening things like gravy and for those good-for-the-soul type recipes like chocolate chip cookies.

11. Cornmeal – Often overlooked in northern kitchens, cornmeal can be used for more than just corn bread. It’s excellent for coating pans to keep things like pizza dough or rolls from getting soggy on the bottom.

12. White Sugar – It’s hard to forget sugar as it’s used constantly for baked goods and in tea and coffee, but it’s also an important ingredient in preserving foods like jam and bread and butter pickles.

13. Brown Sugar – Brown sugar is indispensable in many dessert recipes. It can also be made at home by combining white sugar and molasses.

14. Rolled Oats – Oats are used in many desserts and can be added to bread for a more textured, hearty product. They’re also perfect when a complicated, from-scratch breakfast is out of the picture.

15. Baking Soda – This is a leavening agent (it makes things rise) and is important to many baked goods.

16. Baking Powder – This is also a leavening agent. As with baking soda, quite a few baked goods can’t be made without it.

17. Yeast – If you want to cook from-scratch bread, bagels, or pizza dough, you’ll need to purchase yeast. It can be stored for quite awhile in the refrigerator.

18. Cocoa Powder – It’s important to have around when skipping the store-bought cake mixes and can be also used for homemade hot cocoa/chocolate milk mix.

19. Flaxseed Meal – Flaxseeds are full of healthy fats and omega-3s and are great additions to baked goods like crackers and bread.

20. Applesauce – It’s so much more than just a snack. It can replace eggs in many baked goods when the hens refuse to lay or you have vegan company.

21. Vanilla Extract – It’s a little pricey but worth it for the best flavored pancakes and desserts. You can also make your own by soaking vanilla beans in vodka for several months.

22. Chocolate Chips – These cannot be forgotten, especially if you have kids.

Oils, Vinegars, & Seasonings

23. Olive Oil (or another vegetable oil) РOlive oil is perfect for saut̩ing veggies and making homemade dressings and sauces.

24. Coconut Oil (or other fat that’s solid at room temperature) – It has a long shelf life and is perfect for making pie crusts, granola bars, and seasoning cast iron pans.

25. Soy Sauce – Soy sauce adds a warm, savory flavor to more than just asian cuisine.

26. Salt & Pepper – Salt and pepper are key to making sure from scratch dishes aren’t too bland.

27. Kosher Salt – Kosher or pickling salt is essential to home-canning vegetables.

Commonly used spices

Whatever you love and use the most keep on hand. Some ideas include basil, oregano, dill, chili powder, curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

28. Boullion or Broth – A quick and cheap way to add tons of flavor.

29. White Vinegar – White vinegar is a basic ingredient in many pickle and dressing recipes. It also doubles as a natural cleaning product for kitchen surfaces.

30. Apple Cider Vinegar – Just like white vinegar, apple cider vinegar is used for pickles and dressing. It’s also good for boosting the immune system and is used in many herbal remedies.

31. Tahini – Tahini can be purchased or made at home using sesame seeds and olive oil. It doesn’t take much but it makes a huge difference in homemade hummus and stir fry.


32. Bread Crumbs – They’re excellent for thickening savory dishes and of course coating things to be fried or baked.

33. Nuts – Perfect for keeping hunger at bay while you’re busy in the kitchen or adding to baked goods for a more filling product. They’re also very good for your health.

34. Honey / Maple Syrup / Molasses – No matter which is your favorite a natural sweetener is a pantry essential, bringing more nutrients and minerals to the table than white sugar.

35. PB & Jam – Thrown together with some homemade bread it’s the ultimate from-scratch fast food and can help you stay on track when you feel like there just isn’t enough time.

A fully stocked pantry, and a constantly clean kitchen, are the two best ways I know to ease your way into cooking for yourself more often.

From scratch obviously takes more work than picking up the phone and ordering take out, but the benefits are many.

It will take longer, but you might live longer, too.

Bon Appetite!

October 25, 2023

Stop Having Kids

Want controversy? Start a discussion on whether or not we should be bring babies into this chaotic world. That is what the Stop Having Kids organization is doing.

I don't know too many people that have had planned pregnancies. Most of those with kids report that the pregnancy "just happened". 

That does not seem like the best start for a new human being considering the huge burden unplanned kids put on a family.

The Stop Having Kids organization is asking humanity to think about that, about where kids come from, how they are made, and what it means to bring more into this already crowded world.

Having kids is one of the most resource intensive things two people can do together, as it creates lifelong consumers. 

The new babies born into ConsumerLand will each require tons and tons of resources decade after decade for up to 70 years or more.

What does that do to make the world a better place?

If the powers that be are trying to kill us all, and I think they are, why not prevent them from doing their dirty work by not giving them more humans to murder with their "solutions" to overpopulation and resource depletion?

Stop Having Kids is asking humanity to care for the humans already on our planet before thoughtlessly bringing more into existence.

A lot of people bring new consumers into the world because of societal pressure, or by mistake, rather than it being a rational, well thought out choice.

Speaking from experience, being childfree has many benefits besides reducing the stress on our life support system, and making a good life more possible for those already here.

Here are a few listed at Stop Having Kids website:
  • more free time and freedom in general
  • the ability to be more spontaneous
  • more ability to give back and serve a public good
  • more money and less chances of falling into financial hardship and hunger
  • more sleep (uninterrupted too) and relaxation
  • more privacy, peace, and solitude
  • having actual days off and less hecticness
  • more ability to care for oneself
  • ability to maintain one's goals
  • ability to care well for other life forms 
  • less stress about planning, shopping, and cooking for others
  • more ability to invest in new skills and hobbies
  • more ability to travel and move
  • more possible to develop existing relationships with people
  • more quality time with one’s partner(s)
  • less stress in general
A simple life can be even more blissfully simple in a childfree setting.

Think about it. 

If one still wants to have kids after that, they will be better prepared to do so, and the child will be more welcome and well adjusted.

If not, couples will be doing an overpopulated, resource-stressed world a favour.

It may be controversial, but this is a discussion that we should be having at a societal level.

October 19, 2023

Time For Reflection

Reflection can be a powerful tool to ensure we're focusing on the things that bring us the most joy.

Living simply does not guarantee that one will have time for reflection, but having fewer distractions does make finding the time more likely.

"Coming home from an Ozark jaunt the other afternoon, it occurred to me again how hard it is, in this modern world, to find time for reflection, for ordered thinking. 

Perhaps the age we live in is against us-the monotony or extreme tension of the daily task, the bombardment of our senses by a thousand distractions, the strange belief that only through amusement can we secure relaxation, even the state of world stress and uncertainty. 

The printing press, the air waves, the image on the silver screen-these instruments to fill our leisure rob us of this most precious possession." 

- Leonard Hall

Leonard Hall was an outdoorsman, writer, wildlife photographer, farmer, and lecturer.  

His book Stars Upstream: Life Along an Ozark River chronicles life along the Current and Jacks Fork rivers in the Missouri Ozarks.

First published in 1958, it is an example of one man's love for the land and of a way of life in danger of being lost.

Unfortunately, all the things Hall wrote about have ratcheted up since his time.

Finding time for reflection and ordered thinking has never been more difficult.

Not finding the time has never been more dangerous.

Living a more simple life can help.

October 18, 2023

Garden 2023

One of my favourite things to do this time of year is grab a large bowl, a pair of scissors, and spend some time harvesting goodies in my garden/retreat.

I try to make my harvest as appealing as possible, so that when I bring it inside and show Linda she gets her fill of both beauty and bounty.

After we planted our tomatoes this year, it was cloudy and rainy for weeks. The starts did not achieve the beauty or bounty we experienced last year. 

We have had plenty of tomatoes to eat, but there will not be enough to do any canning this year. A bummer, especially when looking at the price of store bought canned tomatoes these days.

Our garlic, however, turned out great. So easy to grow, and so much better than the tired stuff in the stores that must endure being shipped thousands of kilometres.

After first frost, which hasn't happened yet, we will be planting out the best bulbs for next year's crop. 

First frost in our location occurs some time between mid-September and mid-October, so it could be any time now.

That will be the beginning of Garden 2024 already.

This may gross some readers out, but it was our best year ever for cilantro, which has been accenting our Dahl and rice, as well as making it into our salsa and burritos. 

Cilantro is a love/hate thing. For us it is love. Especially since it self-seeded all over the place, and all we had to do was harvest it all summer and into the fall.

Besides our garlic in the herb and spice category, we also had success with dill, summer savoury and basil. 

We used all of our basil to make walnut pesto. We frozen it in ice cube trays, then dumped into two large freezer bags. We will use it for pasta and pizza this winter.

Overall, it was not our best garden year ever, but there are always surprises when growing a garden, like the winter squash that grew in our compost pile.

And with the price of food still going up, a garden, regardless of the results, is increasingly looking like the thing to do.

How did you garden grow?

October 17, 2023

Transcending Consumerism (And Everything Else)

A fundamental Zen message says that an awakened state can be achieved. We can go beyond our perceived limitations. 

This awakening can be achieved by transcending all aspects of the material, transitory world. 

We will have to transcend consumerism first, if we are to transcend anything else.

Not just consumerism, although that would be a positive step toward that ultimate goal. 

Muso Soseki (1275 - 1351), a Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, calligraphist, poet and garden designer said,

I don’t go out to wander around
I stay at home here in Miura
While time flows on through
The unbounded world
In the awakened eye
Mountains and rivers completely
The eye of delusion looks out upon
Deep fog and clouds. 

What is consumerism if not a deep fog hanging over captured shoppers stuck in a dead end cycle? 

When individuals aspire to attain spiritual enlightenment, regardless of what method they follow to get there, they don't go to the mall.

The act of simplifying one's life helps to transcend consumerism, and stimulates the awakened eye.

When we see that we can overcome our programming as consumers, we are emboldened to overcome anything and everything.

First we gain ourselves, then we gain the world.

October 14, 2023

Dumb Consumer Item of The Month - Disposables

Nothing highlights the futility of the landfill economy better than disposable consumer products.

From the ubiquitous paper towel to red solo cups to batteries to pretty much most crap sold in stores, it is all meant to be used for a short period of time and thrown away.

They may not succeed in paving everything over, but the Earth is quickly becoming covered in our own waste.

It is time to dispose of the idea of the landfill economy and turn to products that are beautiful, durable and long lasting.

Ultimately, it is all disposable. That's why you've never seen a hearse pulling a U-Hall trailer.

October 13, 2023

Too Far?


When it comes to frugality and being gentle on the Earth I am willing to take things far, but I wonder sometimes, do I take them too far?

Take the photo above. What is it? Some sort of environmentally themed art? Something I picked up from someones trash? 

No, it is an overused dishcloth that is still in service in my kitchen. If I use it for much longer there will be more missing than is there. But it still works.

I can afford to buy new dishcloths, so it isn't lack of money that explains this. It is something else.

It is something that goes along with my sock solution, for worn socks, which could also be seen as going too far.

Or my leather hiking boots that I bought in the 80s and still wear on a semi-regular basis.

Or my first car that I restored then drove for 14 years before selling it for the exact price I paid for it - $750.00 dollars.

Or wearing otherwise good underwear with waistbands so stretched it takes a safety pin to keep them up.

Some people would say that in my commitment to being gentle on the Earth I am going beyond the extreme.

However, considering the state of the world, and the importance of maintaining a liveable Earth viable for both humans and all other life, I have to ask - can one even go far enough?

Too far?

Not far enough?

Hard to say. 

But I will be continuing my frugal thrifty ways using my stuff to death (and beyond in the case of the dishcloth above), while looking for places I can do even more. 

Or is it less?

October 8, 2023

No Solution

George Carlin said, "If you think there is a solution, you are part of the problem."

Many of the problems humanity is faced with today, including consumer behaviour contributing to the destruction of the life support system planet Earth provides, don't have solutions.

That is because such structures are flawed from the beginning, and cannot be rehabilitated.

No amount of green, ethical, or conscious consumerism will turn things around. But they will maintain the old order and make profit in the meantime.

What we need are new ways of doing things, recognizing that sometimes the new thing is an old thing.

Like living more locally, growing some of your own food, reducing our expectations and demands on the environment, and living simpler, slower, more wholesome lives.

We used to do all these things, but gave them up in trade for unlimited consumption of things that didn't make life much better, but did elicit some temporary good feelings, and elevate our social status.

Likewise with the way we work, our healthcare and education complexes, and the way we govern ourselves. There is no solution that leave these rotted structures intact. 

Thinking so only delays much need action.

Those that think the status quo can be gussied up to work for regular people, and that will bring peace and prosperity to all, should consider carefully what George said.

We need wholesale, people-powered change, and the sooner the better.