May 31, 2024

We Set A New Record

We set a new record recently. It is not a record we like to break too often.

It is hard to ignore the troubling increases in the price of almost everything. Most concerning to me are the price increases for things one needs to survive.

Like food.

Our last big grocery order was a record breaker for us. For eaters that have large families it may not seem like much, but for us it was a biggie.

I should point out that we were doing some stocking up as our friends that pick up large orders for us were going to be away for a month.

But still, we have done something like this before and the total was not nearly as much.

And what did it come to?

Total: $516.12.


On the other hand, it is a great motivator to make sure our garden is as productive as possible.

It has also caused us to cut our food waste to near zero. 

The record-breaking bill also provides an opportunity to review what we are buying, and lower our food costs by doing things like our recent switch from coffee to tea.

It also makes us happy to be vegetarians, although no foods have escaped the dreaded inflation, and fresh fruits and veggies have taken a hit, too. 

Beans and rice? Also up.

Will we have to switch from tea to hot water? Or better yet, a cup of miso in the morning. 

Although miso is pretty expensive also. But healthier than tea, or coffee.

It might be time to do some fasting.

What is the most you have spent in one grocery order?

Has food inflation changed the way you shop, and/or eat?

May 30, 2024

Things Going Right

Our bedroom windowsill is filling up with things I pick up for Linda 
from the garden, bike rides, and hikes

This time if year is always hard for me to find time to post here. It's not because anything is wrong, but more because so much is right.

The weather is warming up nicely, but we have had very little rain in Nova Scotia this spring so far. 

That means I have been spending time every day hand watering our vegetable seeds. What a joy to see them emerge as the days go by. 

The romaine lettuce, kale, radish, and winter squash all needed to be thinned. Their growth is encouraging, and we have already harvested fresh kale for our salads.

I have also been doing a lot of biking, as the shoulder seasons are my favourite time to ride. The cooler temperatures are perfect, and it is not stiflingly humid yet.

Some of my rides are purely recreational, the prime directive being 1) have fun, and 2) get a good workout.

On my more business oriented rides the prime directive is 1) have fun, and 2) get stuff done. Things like biking into town to pick up a backpack of groceries via routes on pavement, gravel, and forest trails.

There are many places to hike that I can access close to home. Walking out the back door and into the valley behind our house is one of my faves. 

However, the best birdwatching is from our home, which feels like a bird blind at the top of our ridge. From elevation we see from our windows many, many species. Today we saw several great blue herons flying by on their way to the ocean.

In addition to all that, something else that is feeling right is when Linda and I work together in the kitchen every day, preparing more and more of what we eat from scratch.

Along the way we have improved our skills, our menu, and the healthfulness of what we ingest.

The best thing about it, though, is in the enjoyment of eating. Our meals have never been yummier. We look forward to every single one of them, even though they all mean a considerable amount of work. It is fun, and it is worth it.

The warmer weather also means I can get Linda outside more often to enjoy the sun, a free dose of vitamin D, and some fresh air. 

We have new neighbours on the other side of the duplex, and being outside more means we see them and can chat more often. That is nice as winter can be isolating out here in the windblown countryside.

The new folks have done a lot with their yard - raised bed vegetable gardens, flower beds, and they recently built a chicken coop for their new flock. I am thinking in the fall we will be able to trade some of our winter squash for their eggs.

So a lot going right lately in my simple life this spring.

I will be trying to write more often as I miss it when I am away for any length of time. There are many posts that I have been working on that I look forward to sharing.

How is your spring going? Or fall?

I, for one, am glad we are moving into summer, and not winter. 

Summer makes it feel like more and more is going right, and it is exciting to behold.

Like the new leaves on the trees, we are emerging into a new year of growth.

May 21, 2024

Tending My Garden

"We must cultivate our garden."

- Voltaire 

Today, I turned off, tuned out, and cultivated the soil. Fingers, meet Earth.

At one time not too long ago everyone had a space to grow food. 

Tending your garden was a normal part of life. Everyone's fingers got to enjoy the Earth and all the good things that came from the soil.

"The garden was where you found eighty percent of your food, of course, but it also provided medicine, fragrances, dyes, and aromatic herbs for the home, laundry – even laying out the dead." 
- Karen Atkins

You don't just get food, medicine, fragrances, dyes and aromatic herbs from a garden.

Growing your own food has many mental health benefits. It's an important ancient connection that can't be replaced by a complex global industrial food syndicate based only on profit, rather than good food and health.

If we tended to our own gardens more often, life would be more fruitful, with less worry and stress. We would be more fit, and much happier while providing for ourselves.

In my little garden space the garlic is up, poking through the mulch that has kept it warm during the dark, cold days after planting it last fall.

I dumped in some black soil and a bit of manure and spread it all about.

This year we decided to go with what we already had, rather than get starts from a greenhouse.

What we have is seeds, some bought new this spring, and some saved from last year's garden delights.

I planted radish, kale, peas, dill, summer savoury, basil, carrots, beets, cucumbers, and romaine lettuce seeds.

Because we decided not to buy starts this year, we will not be growing tomatoes. 

We thought about what to replace them with, and thought about something that was a high value crop like tomatoes, and that we had seeds to plant.

Winter squash was the answer. They are expensive in the store, and the keep very well on the shelf for months without any processing.

I am trying not to worry too much about what is happening in Constantinople, or any other national capital, including my own.

Fools will do what fools do.

I am being content to pay attention only to what is happening in my own 8 X 16 raised bed garden and various spots around the yard where we grow things.

I am going to enjoy the returning sun and all that comes with the warmth it provides. Like the barn and tree swallows zipping through our yard as I water my precious seeds in the soil.

Giving thanks for my little peaceful corner of this crazy world, you will find me cultivating the fruits of my labour, then preserving and feasting in the fall.

I predict more and more people will be joining me as we work toward increased self-sufficiency and independence outside of the teetering industrial food system.

May 20, 2024

More Nature, Less Stuff

It makes me laugh that humans think they are the most intelligent beings in the known Universe. 

Ha, ha, ha!

We aren't even the most intelligent beings on our own blue green home suspended in the blackness of space.

We can learn a lot by looking to all the other life with which we share this wonderful, wise planet.

There are lessons to be learned there that could make us more than tragically hip and dumb apes.

It should be a humbling experience, something we badly need if we are to save ourselves.

That is why I am a huge proponent of more nature, and less consumerism.

One will free us, the other enslave.

Today is a good day to be free.

In nature.

“Nature is our greatest teacher, of surrender, of allowing, of simply being. Every blade of grass, every flower, every tree remembers. This moment. This present. This is where life is.” - 

May 18, 2024

Planet Garbage

It's birds, it's planes. Insects? No! It's garbage in space.

"The lack of regulation and the current gold rush approach to space exploration mean that space junk and waste will continue to accumulate, as will the related problems and dangers." 
- Chris Impey


Homo sapiens would be better labeled as homo garbagiens. 

We produce garbage at an alarming rate, because we aren't as shmart as we give ourselves credit for. 

The entire consumer system is reliant on us continuing to participate in its garbage economy. No waste - no economy as we know it.

It's what we do - make waste. It is one of the best ways to flaunt your wealth. More stuff equals more garbage. More garbage means more stuff.

This sickness has spread to all points of the Earth.

There is garbage at the bottom of the deepest trench in our oceans.

There is garbage at the top our our tallest mountain.

There is garbage in remote parts of the world, far away from the people who produced it.

Finally, not to leave any place pristine and free our our wasteful ways, there is garbage in space, including on the Moon.

So much, in fact, that there is some danger of making our upper reaches dangerous places for satellites as well as astronauts and their space ships.

It is so dangerous that a lot of money is spent identifying and tracking some of the larger, more threatening chunks circling our planet.

Many people wonder why intelligent life has never contacted us. I have a theory.

Probably because they came, took one look at how we have ringed our planet in garbage, and correctly surmised that any life form that soils its own nest to the extent we have is more garbagiens than sapiens, and best avoided.

Or, alien life has come to meet us, rammed their silver sausage space ship into a piece of space junk while trying to land, and burned up in the atmosphere in fiery crashes.

"Oh, look, a pretty meteorite," we say, looking to the sky as our curious alien visitors burn to a crisp and land in the ocean somewhere.

Welcome to Planet Garbage.

How do we fix this, in space as well as on the ground?

Live more simply. 

I know - it is my answer for just about everything. But it works, and I know from years of personal experience.

It is amazing at how effectively cutting down on what we do and what we consume cuts down on garbage production.

No garbage in - no garbage out.

Let's clean up our act, then put out the welcome mat on Planet Pristine.

May 16, 2024

Camera Crazy

My ancient 4MP camera broke a few months ago. I have not replaced the old point and shoot yet, and you know what I am finding?

No camera - no problem. I have never owned a smart phone, so I have no camera at all. 

Since the ever-present smart phone made it into everyone's pocket, picture taking devices have been more available than any time since the invention of the photographic camera in the early 1800s.

Now, we are crazily documenting the minutia of our lives 24/7. The use of photo-based social media sites is now a central part of people's lives.

Whether the ubiquitous nature of digital photographic devices has been a good thing for society or not has yet to be decided.

There is some evidence that greater exposure to visual imagery dulls our senses. 

On the other hand, studies exist that indicate that "photo-taking can naturally promote mindful attention to visual aspects of experiences. Such mindful photo-taking can increase enjoyment of and memory for experiences, generate positive mood, and heighten life-satisfaction."

But I have been wondering for years now - do we really need to record and share every minute detail of our lives down to what we eat for breakfast, lunch, and supper? 

We can't just enjoy breakfast, lunch and supper any more, and that seems like a loss of sorts.

That is why I have not been missing my camera. 

The easy ability to record everything instantly can be a burden as well as a blessing.

Instead of being in the moment, the act of photography may take us into the future with thoughts about the framing of the picture, who we might share the image with and on what platform, and more importantly, what our images reflect about us and our lives.

Most of the photos I take are when I explore natural areas so I can share my activities with Linda (who is unable to join me due to her medical condition).

Gardening, biking, bird watching, hiking, and snowshoeing are all activities that Linda likes to see evidence of upon my return home.

She even likes the shots I take of animal poop so she can hone her tracking skills.

But nature activities are those that lend themselves to moving meditation, which I particularly enjoy.

When I don't have a camera along with me, it clears me to simply enjoy the moment instead of harbouring thoughts of documenting the moment.

Then, it is just me and nature in perfect harmony, unsullied by technology and desires for some future benefit from my photography, even if it is just Linda liking what I bring home.

I can get lost in the moment, and totally merge with my surroundings. I find this particularly stress relieving and regenerating. 

I can feel my connection with the environment more strongly.

I will be getting a new camera eventually, although it is getting increasingly difficult to find an inexpensive, quality point and shoot as manufacturers drop them due to poor sales.

Who would even buy those old cameras these days except us Neo-Luddites? 

In the meantime, it is just me and old fashioned reality experienced straight up. 

What do you think? Are cameras making us more mindful, or less? Does picture taking enhance the moment, or detract from it?

And more importantly, with trillions of images being taken, is a picture still worth a thousand words? 

May 14, 2024

The Stoic Path To Living Simply

The Stoics paved the simple road for us, and that off ramp to sanity is available to anyone wanting to drive away from the asylum we currently inhabit.

Their advice maps out a route to a simple, happy life of inner peace.

The Stoic Path To Living Simply

Live in agreement with nature.

Wealth, status, and power are distractions, and are ultimately irrelevant.

Own only the essentials as happiness can not be found in things.

Let go of the things that can not be controlled, and strive for the mastery of the things we can control - thoughts, opinions, decisions and duties.

Work for the common good rather than personal gain.

We are born with everything we need to live a virtuous, happy life.

Eliminate toxic emotions that prevent rational responses. The further from anger we are, the stronger we will be.

Focus on present circumstances, where we can actually make a difference.

Our interconnectedness means that mutual cooperation is the only way to resolve our challenges because we are all family.

The Stoic's message is an antidote to the sickness of consumerism and worldly obsessions that have taken over much of our lives.

According to their ideas, we have everything we need right now to make things better for ourselves, and everyone else.

This rational, personal, and active wish is more effective and optimistic than the passive blind hope that someone else will do the long distance driving for us.

And while traveling on the path, do not forget to enjoy the simple things, like sitting in a warm sunbeam.

May 10, 2024

I Love Lentils

This is not a post on lentils, necessarily. 

If you were expecting an enthusiastic endorsement of this tiny powerhouse of flavour and nutrition, coveted for their ability to transform ordinary dishes into extraordinary culinary creations, this isn't it.

This post is of a more philosophical nature.

But lentils figure highly in this story about the freedom and nature-loving Stoic philosopher, Diogenes.

On seeing the philosopher, Diogenes, eating bread and lentils, fellow philosopher, Aristippus, who lived comfortably by flattering the king said,

“If you would learn to be subservient to the king you would not have to live on lentils.”

Diogenes replied, “Learn to live on lentils and you will not have to be subservient to the king.”

There is my answer right there, spoke so many years ago.

If you don't want to be subservient to the consumer system, learn to love lentils.

I love lentils.

I really, really love lentils.

And Diogenes.

Happy weekend, people. 

Gardening, anyone?

May 6, 2024

Simple Dreams

Some people dream big. I like to dream small. 

And simple. 

A few examples to illustrate my diminutive, but doable, dreams.

My dream home (and location).

My dream recreational vehicle. 

My dream motorized vehicle.

My dream life. 

My dream planet.

Dream little, live large.

Dream simple, live free.

Dream compassionately, live in peace.