Thursday, April 28, 2016

Kids 'n school

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. As the father of a teen I am facing one of those dreaded choices one has to make with and on behalf of a teen son, in this case; the choice of a (high)school.
I have had some sleepless nights over this. What road to follow and how will that affect my son's future?
And there are a number of factors in play here; what is it he wants? What is it that I want? Will he have a future in the direction he chooses? Etc. etc.
The direction he has chosen, digital design, is something he really is into, so he is highly motivated. It is, however, a field or subject I have no affiliation or interest with or in.... at all. It couldn't be farther from what I advocate and stand for, but it is his choice. Should I, as a father, step in here and point out the potential pitfalls, the way I see it, such as bleak future prospects both in career and practical usability or maybe even downright interfere?
The answer to that would, based on my own experience on the receiving end, be a simple NO. That would kill any and all motivation and I know what the disastrous result of that would be. So I stepped aside and let him make a choice, after laying out the option before him. And he chose to go ahead. Which is good, since he stands fast with what he wants and believes in, even after having been confronted with other options or possible outcomes. And he has chosen a school that turns out to be quite different than the others too. No regular, communal, government controlled school, but as it turned out, a privately owned school with their own principles and guidelines. Principles and guidelines we, as a family, all approve of. He will not be drilled into a brick-in-the-wall kind of position, limited by guidelines and expectations. He ends up on a school that challenges each individual, gives him a lot of opportunities to try out fields of expertise and guarantees the maximum amount of interaction with and guidance by teachers. Quite a young staff they have too.
We attended a few open house events, talked to the staff and the principal, who happens to be from the Netherlands too, and the vibe we got was that this is a school that emphasises on equality, for as far as that is possible, cooperation and stimulation of developing the individual's capabilities.
I was quite impressed with the very broad spectrum of classes and subjects that is offered to the kids, even within certain fields of choice. It somehow feels like a modern, high-tech kind of artschool. If anything, this school has quite a bit of that same feeling about it as the Steiner/Waldorf school had that our kids went to back in the Netherlands, only much more modern and more grown up. That same sort of creative flow and this is my son's kind of creativity.
Both my wife and I wished that we had had these opportunities and possibilities when we were that age. Can't help but wonder how different things would've been.....
And our son is really eager to go there and that is the most important thing of all. And all I can hope is that he will find, what he is looking for. That it'll bring him, what he aims for.....Knowing his life will take him in other directions, when he is ready for that, too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blacksmithing - given an ancient craft a try for real

I got a weekend introductory course in blacksmithing at Carinas Smedja (websitefacebook) as a christmas/birthdaypresent and my wife insisted that I'd go, since I initially wanted to back out on it, due to financial implications. But I did as I was told and went and a good thing it was too. Why? Have I become a blacksmith enthusiast? Found a new hobby or lifestyle? Well, no...
It was good, because I got to meet new people, I got to experience a new craft, it challenged my way of creative thinking and I ended up with a nice bonus too.
The course itself was pretty straight forward; a full saturday and sunday 09:00-17:00, including coffeebreaks and lunch. Turned out our lady blacksmith Carina is someone who likes to socialise, but also makes the most use of hours available. So no excessively long breaks. The information and background theory were quite rudimentary, but then again we were there to bang on some hot iron, not become theoretically educated in the art and craft of blacksmithing and metalworking!
We started of with a standard items, which we'd all make together, using the information we had just gotten; a crook or wallhanger with a leafshape on top and a curled hook at the bottom and some nails to go with those. This way we would understand the use and importance of the metal temperature, how to flatten and curl it and how to basically work metal.
How did that work out for me? Well, let's just say that no 2 leaves in nature are the same and not all are symmetrical either.... And the nails..... Well, I am a gardener and I like to grow things and that is what happened to the nails too. They just kept growing and getting longer, no matter how short I started off. Gave up on them eventually.....
After this and a break we were pretty much given free hand at crafting whatever we wishes. Within acceptable and reasonable boundaries of course. Of course I wanted to make my very own firesteel. The ones we had made are nice, of course, but made by someone else; our local blacksmith. And they didn't throw sparks very well either. Carina and I tried rehardening them, but to no avail. So either there is too little carbon in the steel ( a modern file) or the contact surface is to broad, so you cabä't scrape off good glowing flakes. The one I made is a lot smaller, narrower and lighter and made from an old file..... And it throws sparks, baby! So I am quite pleased with that.
The things I did/made
The image is from Carina's fb-page
As a next project I wanted to do a threelegged potstand. Not that I am overly ambitious.....
I discussed this with Carina and initially we didn't really understand each other. I wanted a simple ring with detachable legs and she suggested 3 onepiece, similar shaped legs with segments of ring, later to be riveted together....
I ended up cheating. I couldn't get the 3 pieces to be the same, couldn't get the areas where they'd meet flattened and lined up properly, so riveting them together was not possible. I asked her to just spot weld them together and I camouflaged the weld with wire. Looks quite good actually.... and the stand is level too!! Just a tad higher than I had initially planned, but still I am quite pleased.
When done I had some time left on sunday. I filled that up with the firesteel hardening, described earlier. I also found someone's old project; an all metal knife with a twisted and curled handle. I could use it, so I flattened it. It had a blade as smooth as the ocean surface during strong winds. And no edge what's however, just the basic shape. I ground a rough cutting edge and than hardened that edge. Now it needs some sharpening....

Now... the bonuses....
One of them is a tray (24) of eggs. Freshly laid eggs from free ranging chickens, directly from the coop, including poop and feathers. For a very, very good price! And they are good! What taste!!
The other bonus is a sandstone sharpeningstone. One like I already have, but round, not eggshaped. I spotted it sitting underneath one of the storagebuildings, while I was taking a breath of air ( and cool down) and I made a remark to Carina that that was some fine, oldfashioned piece of equipment. She looked at me and said:" You want it? Take it. It's been lying there for 15 years. I don't use it....." So that one followed me home. Now I can fix my sharpening arrangement and finally start sharpening my scythes!
I will also end up with a few plant supports. 5 to be exact and for a very fair price too, considering the material costs, time I would have to spend and tools I'd have to borrow.

All in all I am glad I went along, even if I will never be a smith.
Metalworking simply is not for me.
And at the end of an intense weekend, there's nothing better than a locally produced ale and a locally written book....

Friday, April 22, 2016

April showers.....

... and wind.... and occasionally a little sunshine!

Damn, I wish spring would move up faster!
It's been rainy and cold this past week. Temperatures barely reaching 10C. Windy too, but we had a few sunny days as well. I keep forgetting that april here really is an early spring month and that spring usually doesn't really kick in until may. My seasonal clock is still tuned for Dutch seasons, even after 5 years.

But I really shouldn't complain, when I compare it to a late april morning (5 a.m.) in 2012....

However..... Like I said, we do have occasional bursts of sunshine and being busy in the greenhouse is kind of nice, when the rain patters on the roof overhead.
I am sowing and planting and reading and planning... full steam ahead!

The funny thing about these showers is that, before they reach you, they are preceded by a wave of cold air rushing toward you. A dark cloud at the horizon shows up and when a sudden and cold wind reaches you, you know the rain/sleet/snow/hail or mixed shower is heading your way. I guess the icy cold of that showers creates a downdraft before it, sucking in the warmer air from the top and pushing out cold air at the bottom. I also noticed that by the intensity of those gusts you can predict to a certain degree how heavy the coming shower will be. The more wind, the more heavenly water will be poured down on you.
And it creates the most interesting and beautiful skies,,,,,

As for the sowing..... I am kind of busy developing a schedule that allows for various species to be grown together, so as to avoid monocultures and boringness. And that requires some puzzling and researching; things I love to do. And with this weather....
Now you might wonder why the heck I didn't do that during winter. Well, I did. But as it happens quite a few more seeds and information ended up here and that made some changes necessary. Quite a few actually. At the very last we decided to have potatoes. So we needed to "design" a potato-patch. And we needed some accompanying plants for the potatoes. And potatoes do not mix well with others, so these had to be redesignated to other parts of the garden..... which had to be redesigned too. And so forth.

And I found this very cool thing on Mother Earth news, called "the three sisters", when googling for companion planting..... Apparently an old native American (or Indian) thing, meaning a combination of corn, pumpkins and beans. Now American beans are not the same as European or Dutch ones. For us beans usually mean those long, fresh, green ones. So again some redesigning was to be done...... And as icing on the cake there was that small package I received from California, from my dear internetfriend Renée (Tresjolie, who runs 2 blogs; grindstone ranch weekly and the view from grindstone ranch She intended them to become some form of dinner and I saw them as something to grow, before they become some form of dinner... The poquito beans!

I dare say they are quite unique for Sweden!!
There's a huge learningcurve ahead of us here. And speaking of learningcurves.... There are more. Some in the order of books (of course) and one in the form of a course. I am going on a 2-day blacksmithing course coming weekend.
The other curve deals with perennial edible plants and more in depth information on top bar hives. The first one is in Swedish and deals with plants that can be used here. And even by browsing it, it has proven its value. And I am quite pleased to be able to say we helped fund it though a crowdfunding. We squeezed out enough cash to get a signed copy....
The other books are Phil Chandler's books on top bar hives; Balanced beekeeping I&II. The first one is all about building them, the second one is about how to use and maintain them, so that the ladies inside thrive.
The online plans for building those hives are adequate to have a go at it, the book's just more elaborate. Managing the top bar hives is... well... about managing them. I'll get deeper into both of them later on....

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hey, have you seen the news today? Paris protests....

Something's going on, folks!

Massive protests have occurred all across France and spreading into Europe!
Those protests initially seemed to be peaceful, but I assure you that that will not last long. I am predicting violence erupting everywhere and the authorities will act accordingly; curfews, arrests, policeviolence.... Anything to suppress this spontaneous outbreak of civil anger and disobedience.
But no matter how much vionece the powers that be will use or instigate, the genie is out of the bottle! People have been pushed around, suppressed and provoked for a long time now and they have had enough.....

In one of the reports I read a quote that should make you, us AND the ruling class think;
"There’s something here that I’ve never seen before in France – all these people converge here each night of their own accord to talk and debate ideas – from housing to the universal wages, refugees, any topic they like. No one has told them to, no unions are pushing them on – they’re coming of their own accord."
Because of this it is clear that there is a huge feeding ground for protest to grow, to converge and to create a stir. There are no leaders, there is no agenda..... It started as protests against French government changes, but it has grown into something else.....
Does it all start again in France?
Will there be another "storming the Bastille"- kind event?
Will there be another revolution?
Given the interconnectedness these days it most likely will spread and spread fast!

The ruling class has become to arrogant, to brutal, to reckless and to deranged.
Time to topple them.

Another quote;
Thus, today on the Place de la République, it is not 9 April; it is 40 March. Playing with dates deliberately echoes the French Revolution, which started in “year one”. It involuntarily recalls the opening line of George Orwell’s 1984, when a clock strikes 13.
In the early days, the participants had no individual names. Everyone was “Camille”, a name which can be male or female in French.
But it is difficult to enforce rules in a movement with no rules – and individual names are creeping back.

Gael, a student in his early twenties, dressed all in black, with a neat beard and a serious smile, said: “We don’t know where this is going – that’s the whole point. We don’t have plans. We don’t have demands. We don’t have leaders. We disagree about many things, but we know that things have to change. We didn’t need the Panama leaks to tell us how the world works. We no longer want a system where the selfishness of a few limits the lives and opportunities of the many.”


Of course the mainstream media is depicting these demonstrations as "violent" and they'll do just about anything to label this movement as "leftist", "anarchistic" or whatever "undesirable" label they can come up with.
And the Swedish media?? Silent as a churchyard!!!
Except for 1 (one!) article; ny proteströrelse forbryllar

But something is going on, folks...
It is called "nuit debout" (awake all night)...

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


My wife has been down with a pretty hefty cold these past few days and now it is my turn again.... I was still struggling with the aftermath of a cold from late january/early february, which had lodged itself in my upper airways, causing shortness of breath, fatigue and other unpleasant symptoms, but I could function normally.... sort of. I even went to the doctor and got my blood tested. All came out normal, but still. And now I am having a go at it again... I wonder if my immune systems have become weak or if those pesky coldviruses have become more powerful and evil almost. And the speed with which they make themselves felt.... One day you're fine, the next....

I realised that the piece about the dogs was a result of my frustration and irritation. I also realised that that's not so much the dog's fault as much as it is mine. They just are who they are; high energy dogs with their own characters and shortcomings and I am the one who is not all that high energy with my own character and shortcomings. As much as I would like the dogs to adapt to me, they can only comply up to a certain point, so it is up to me to adapt to them too. And here's where the problem lies; I do not know if I can. The physical fitness thing; sure, with a lot of exercising I would get into shape, but I also like to take it slow. And then there's the patience thing.... plus the finances of course. Doing dogtraining, getting equipment. At this point I am really not sure if I can or want to commit myself that much.
On the other hand I also realised where Lester comes from today. As we walked along the shore of the lake, there was a galy wind and it blew the water in waves onto the rocks, making them splash quite loud. Lester was running and jumping up and down the shore, not sure what to make of it. And I realised that this was likely the first time he had ever seen this! Almost 2 years old!! No wonder he's been acting like a deranged rabbit, stuck with his nose to the ground. The disappearing snow revealed all sorts of things he has never seen or smelled before!! He came to us from the centre of a larger city out into the countryside, when winter was upon us.
Rex on the other hand is developing a kind of behaviour I am not at all happy about. We met one of the neighbours and his male dog, about the same age as Rex, and Rex charged at him. I could barely hold him back! He was very aggressive and he really went at him. If I had not had had him on a strong leash and would have backed up a few meters, he would have had attacked the other dog. He has also become increasingly disobedient. It feels like we have to raise him all over again.
I seriously underestimated the consequences of having these dogs. I really did. And I must admit that I am pondering over the issue of relocating them. Not because they fail me, but because I am failing them.
Having them makes me doubt if I would ever be the kind of person that would or could handle animals properly. Animals you work with and that require high maintenance, training or constant care. Animals like horses for instance. And dogs.
I probably really am a plantperson above anything else, I guess. Good thing the right season is upon us. On the other hand if I could overcome this obstacle, these issues I might find myself in a much better situation. How to do this, is the big question. I know the main issue lies with me. The solution too.... somewhere.... Maybe they are here to show me something in the mirror?

I gave it a bit of a try this afternoon, despite physical limitations, and tried running a bit with the dogs. That went fairly well and once the dogs got the hang of it, they took off! I had to yell to get them to stop almost immediately! I just couldn't keep up! So the  will to run and work most certainly is there, but there were complications too. As long as Rex ran next to Lester, he would snap at him and get into a brawl. When I held back Lester, Rex would stop, turn and do the same until I told him off real good. As long as Lester is behind Rex and out of sight then they run in unison.... and fast!! Tried it a little while later again and with the same results. So there is at least one lesson learned. Two actually... their endurance is as bad as mine at this moment.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Days of idleness

Well, it looks as if those are pretty much numbered.
Spring is here, folks! And it came with clear blue skies, sunshine and quite pleasant temperatures. And the first calls of a loon!!!
Everyday more and new summer residents arrive; Swans are numerous this year and our lakes are inhabited by gulls again. We see very large flights of them everywhere! Terns too.
And today I spotted 2 sädesärla or white wagtails (motacilla alba). There can not be any better sign for spring's arrival!
Now I'll be on the lookout for our black and white friends that stay in our garden every year. All of the remaining nestingboxes are occupied by great and blue tits and we see plenty of buzzards too. Had a great encounter the other day as one was circling overhead, no more than 15 meters above me, its "keows" ringing loud and clear. Magnificent birds....

Spring has come,so we got busy once more! But before that we have been enjoying its arrival. The first frail flowers are showing the true colors. All of the ice and snow is gone, but the lakes were still covered in ice. Which looked like a layer of wet tissues or toilet paper floating on the surface; a weird kind of mush, but still strong enough to carry the seagulls that have been returning as I saw yesterday morning, when walking the dogs. It is quite busy on the lakes these days. many a bird is trying to establish its own territory and the neighbours are not always friendly. When I passed the same lake early in the evening, more than half the lake was icefree! And today only the shady places remain covered by ice. The rest is open water. Ahhh what the change in atmosphere and color that produced. The land lake looked a lot friendlier, the colors warmer, not as bleak anymore. It lifts ones spirit immediately.

The fine weather meant a surge in activities around the house too.
I made a start with refilling firewood for next winter, sorted out a large pile of planking in 2 categories; useful for building and furnacefood a.k.a. firewood. Much of it is riddled with nails, screws and the occasional dab of paint, so that will keep us warm on colder days.
Of course there's the garden. I always get quite excited when I see the green shoots of new growth peeping through the litter. All of the garlic I planted is sprouting! As are the daffodils I brought from the churchyard last year. There'll be plenty of splashes of bright yellow all over the place. I am equally delighted to see those beautiful deep blue violets from the same source reemerging too! The cherrytrees are covered with swelling buds, all of the planted berrybushes show hints of green and the herbs are having new shoots too. All of this despite the serious frost we had, down to -27C. I was especially worried about the garlic and the fruittrees, but they made it! *Big sigh of relief*

And of course a garden can't be a real garden without a gardenbench. We "saved" the old bench we found here, when we moved in. I was about to redesignate it as "furnacefood", but my wife thought it would make a neat bench to relax on during hard work. And right she is.... Our red cat thought so too!
Even though it feels good to be a bit stiff and sore again after the first day of gardening, it is equally enjoyable to just sit there, enjoy some tea and look around or listen.... So much to discover!!

There was also a surprise waiting for us and my wife discovered it among the leaflitter; Egyptisk luftlök or Egyptian walking onion (Allium cepa v. viviparum). It actually walks. It makes small bulbs at the end of long stem and those stems wither. The fall over and the newly created bulbs hit the ground and start growing there, one step away from the motherplant. I got these last year from a neighbour, saying it was garlic... Well, it's not, but great nonetheless!
I of course replanted the bulbs....

We are preparing for some major projects, but one quite unexpected project snuck its way up first; a loungearea. Yes, you read it right. We are creating a spot in the garden with the sole intent of lounging about and relaxing there. How come? Well, I spotted a cheap aluminium paviljon on a salessite and I got it even cheaper. Thought it would make a wonderful opportunity to do some vertical gardening and to have something for climbers to grow in to. The very next day the mrs. and I came across a outdoor sofa, made out of pallets with cushions on it with a kind of loud British print on it, but we liked it. So we went and bought that too. Again, really cheap. And so we will be merging those two together and see what else we can come up with.....
But in the meantime we have put up the greenhouse frame and we have been rethinking our garden layout, mainly because the greenhouse is bigger than we had figured! For now it will sit on the small patch of still unworked land and there we will sow and grow our plants for this year.
Because of a lack of planning and time my anticipated pattern of crop rotation got pretty much messed up. I ended up fertilising and covering random plantbeds and that might interfere with the plans..... I will have to make alternative plans and start the rotation in earnest next season. I think I will go for a 4 year cycle and the planned beds that have to be created yet will become beds with edible perennials.
I am expecting a book on just that subject by the end of the month... for now I'll enjoy the sunny days while they last and make the most of them!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring is inching its way up here!!

Yes, spring has finally come to the north again.
These past few days saw ever increasing numbers of geese arriving. Well, we actually heard them more then we saw them, since they apparently prefer to travel during the night. As I wrote before, cranes and whooper swans already made their way here and more and more summer residents are coming back. The numbers of blackbirds increase daily, the cooing sound of pigeons can be heard in the forest and a group of redwing or rödvingetrast (Turdus iliacus) visited our garden yesterday. The most notable ones have gathered in a large flock that is very audibly present in the trees in and around our garden right now; Bergfink or bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla). Dozens have gathered here and you can not get around hearing them!! They are fine looking birds too.
The now unused horsepasture across the road sees the arrival of a group of starlings and everyone keeps a healthy distance from a pair of crows that patrol the area on foot. They appear massive and huge next to the finches!!!

What I can also hear, is the pelting rain..... It is pouring right now and these next few days the forecasts hold the promise a lot more of these heavenly waters. Daytime temperatures have dropped to single digits again and it has been grey and
damp for a while now, so it is hard to feel like spring is here. But the rhubarbs are budding, the garlic, which came from England last autumn is also showing its sprouts and the crocus are blooming.... sort of. The sweet scent of sap rising and wet soil fills the air. That same scent, or a variety thereof also fills the house and than it quickly becomes less romantic; wet dogs, muddy paws and damp clothes. The winterboots have been replaced by rubber ones and the wintercoats by raincoats.
I miscalculated (mis guessed is more accurate) the amount of firewood we'd need until spring, so now we are burning slightly damp wood. The quality of the wood is not as good as the wood we had during winter either. Right now we are burning the cut up potato crates and other woodwaste, which were made out of spruce wood or occasionally holds a splash of paint. They also contain tons of nails and screws, so the ashes will end up in the garbage bin.

Slowly the days of idleness will be replaced more and more by days of activity and we these days we are busy building beehives. yes, again. But this time we are building topbar hives.
We are using Phil Chandler's plans for building those, which you can download here . It used to be for free, but now he charges a very modest fee. I have been reading his website a good number of times and got his book "The barefoot beekeeper" too. I really do like his philosophy on beekeeping.....
here's his website address:
I went and ordered both his books on topbarhives; Balanced beekeeping 1 & 2, Building a topbarhive & managing a topbarhive. So expect a review of these sometime during the summer.

So far we made the tublike body, using "scrap" wood. My father in law used the manual I downloaded to do the numbers and instead of going out and buying new saw timber (and spending a lot of cash in the process) we reused the planking of a wall he had torn down in his garage. It is 22mm thick instead of the "required" 25. He glued the planks together and when those had set properly we got to work. Luckily he has the right tools for the job, saw tables and all....
They look kind of funky with the partially painted outsides, but the insides are clean. The dividers you see are the molds for the followers that will be made later on. An issue with glueing planks like this, is that you will never get them to be perfectly straight and thus the followers probably never will fit perfectly either. But I figured that if folks in Africa make fully functioning TBH's with timber they can find and work them with relatively crude tools, why become anal-retentive with saws and planes, exact geometrical designs etc...

My father in law continued after I had gone home....

Another fun experiment I did, was sowing tomatoes. That's all over the internet these days; cutting tomatoes in discs, put them in the ground and see what happens. And so did I...
A few tomatoes went bad and mouldy, because they got damaged during transport home. I took one of them, cut a few discs, put them in pots, covered them lightly with soil, punt them on the windowsill and kept them damp.
The first thing that grew was the mould!! It formed a pillow right across the surface and no wonder with all that nurturing soil and water. Bad after a few days the first sprouts started showing too! And now there is a cushion of green sprouts growing over the cushion of grey fuzz. The sprouts do not appear to be affected at all by the mould.
Now one thing to remember here; It is very likely that store bought (ecological) tomatoes, like the one I used, are grown from hybrids and as such will not reproduce from seeds! It is equally likely you might end up with tomatoes that are nowhere near as good in taste or form as the one you planted!
But it is a fun experiment and ideal to do with kids, since the result is showing quickly with the minimal amount of effort. A good way to teach them the basics and to grow plants.

Now the muddy paws bring me to another subject that has kept me quite busy so far; Rex and Lester... The honeymoon weeks with Lester are over, so to speak and the grim reality of everyday life has taken over. And at times it is a tad grim. Or maybe more so; demanding.
Having 2 dogs is less easy than just having one. For one thing there are the contrasts between the two. rex has always been a heap of bundled, nervous energy, whereas Lester is a very easy going, quiet, leisurely dog. The coming of Lester has increased Rex' jumpiness. It is almost compulsory. This inevitably leads to conflicting situations and a good deal of irritation and frustration for us.
When walking the dogs we quite often almost get torn in two. Rex pulling on one end of a leash and Lester refusing to move an inch on the end of the other leash. First Rex sniffs a place and pees on it, then jumps away like a spooked rabbit and is off. But Lester of course has to sniff too and he always takes his sweet time, so rex is janking on the front, because he just wants to go go go and Lester digs in like a stubborn mule, because he ain't done yet..... One 5 meter long leash never touches the ground, the other one drags across the ground in a large curve, weaving from side to side.
Rex prefers the open road, so he can go go go and Lester likes to rummage around through ditches and undergrowth. He's a master at getting his leash entangled there too. A sort of Houdini in reverse...
And when they play Lester shows when he's had enough, but Rex does not get it. He just continues to charge and these charges get fiercer the longer it takes for Lester to engage. And since Lester is physically superior to Rex already, the latter resorts to foul play and he is vicious!!
I kind of fear the day when Lester comes of age and we will have a fight for dominance.............
And then there are the issues of Lester's lack of intelligence and Rex' inability or unwillingness to share attention or affection. For starters Lester really is dim. I suspect there is something not quite right with him and I have had that suspicion ever since I discovered the right eye facing outward and the slightly flattened skull/eyesocket at that side. He really is the sweetest and happiest dog, but stupid. Almost 2 years old, but hops around like a 6 months old puppy and sometimes he looks at you with those vacant eyes.... or downright ignores you.
And Rex is jealous. Of course he gets a little less attention now. It has to be divided between him and Lester, but we make sure they both get an equal share and Rex regularly a little bit more. Yet still he constantly and actively demands attention and when we meet other dogs he gets even more aggressive towards them then before. I get the feeling he is scared that he will have to share attention with those too and thus feels threatened.
What am I getting at with all this? I am actually rethinking the whole dog ownership, since there is a third factor involved: me. Right now I feel trapped by having these two. I am homebound, because I have to walk them four times a day and we can't leave them alone for a length of time anymore, because of the fear the Rex will destroy yet another object. He doesn't just pick a shoe or something. No, he deliberately picks an item from a place he normally would not go and chews it to pieces; a kuksa he plucked from a nail of the wall, a wooden horse from the furnace mantle, a boot puller from its place on the wall..... stuff like that. Frustrated. And I regularly lose my patience....
It is not that we have the wrong kind of dogs. No, I am thinking that maybe I am not the right caretaker for these dogs after all. As far as I am concerned I will postpone the execution until we have had the possibility to fence in a large part of the garden, so they can be out. Hopefully that will help and if it does we will go and ask for help training them, but above all socialise Rex!
But if that doesn't work........

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I feel...

I actually wanted to do a post on how spring equinox has passed and how now the days are longer than the night....
How spring made a dash for it, giving us sun, snowdrops and butterflies and how winter fought back with some serious snowfall.....
How we heard the calls of the whooper swans, geese and cranes and about how glad we are we saw them returning.....
About how our paprika seedlings are sprouting and we are planning the next steps of our homestead...
But instead it became Bruxelles, Belgium.

Yet another terrorist attack, yet more bombs going off.
yet more dying and suffering....
yet more hate, anger and fear.....

I feel for those that have died or suffer, physically or mentally.
I feel for those, whose loved ones were suddenly torn away in a storm of man made violence...
I feel for those who will have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives, victims and family alike....

But all this equally goes for those in Paris, France. In Istanbul, Turkey. New York, USA... For all those in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Ukraine, Nigeria, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Israel... the list goes on and on....
And now violence has reached Europe, is on our doorstep. It no more is far away, somewhere over there "in the desert".
It is here.
It will stay.
It will get worse....
It will become more.....

Because we are being groomed for war. We are being fed seeds of anger and fear, so that hatred will grow. Grow to such an extent that we will unleash it upon "them".... fed by fertilising blood.
We haven't seen the end of it yet. My bet is that Germany or the Netherlands are next. Followed by the countries up north. Because there too hatred has to be sown and cultivated. Because there too are people who are still sceptic about the real cause of all this misery and mayhem. Because there are people everywhere still asking question, still doing their homework and seeing that things do not add up.
I am pretty sure that soon stories or evidence will surface that will completely contradict with official stories, just like in New York and Paris. Why is the Turkish government so hell bent on totally censuring on what has been going on there?

All throughout history those in power in collapsing societies turned on their own people in order to create a situation of chaos and war, in a desperate attempt to keep their power. It happened in each and every society that finally collapsed. Corruption, chaos, deceit, murder, war.... Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Mayans..... They all failed, despite draconic (or demonic?) measures.
We see our society fail. Economics, politics, finances; their are all at the brink of collapse or even over it, without admitting it. How could they? That would mean losing their power!
So they need chaos and war and in order to achieve that they create fear, anger, hatred and enemies!

After every attack people scream louder for blood. The blood of "the others". After every attack the hatred rages fiercer, more openly and remains there longer. Blindness is prevalent. Hatred blinds...
We are groomed for war. For fighting each other, instead of those that really cause the trouble; bankers, politicians and megacorporations. The wealth hoarding elite.
They are the real enemy, but we can not see that, since we are too busy slaughtering one another. Too busy screaming in anger to do our homework. Too busy hating "the others" to connect the dots. Too busy listening to their lies, that somehow suit us, to find the truth on our own. Too busy focussing on trivialities to see the bigger picture...

I feel for all those that died and suffer, because of that.
No matter who or where they are....
Our world is set alight. It is burning. And we are being encouraged to not only keep that fire burning, but fuel it, to make it spread until it is raging like an uncontrollable wildfire. I do not think that that is preventable any more. The masses have become too stupid, blinded and bloodthirsty and the powers too desperate and arrogant to turn the tide.
But maybe it will be not only a ravaging, destructive fire. Maybe it will be a cleansing fire. Getting rid of that evil, making way for the next step in our evolution, for a new world. That would only mean that we, as a species, would have to learn from our mistakes and I like to think that that will happen eventually. Because if we do not.......

Sometimes… in the ashes… an ember is found.
Sometimes… from the ember… a fire is born.
Sometimes… by the fire… a story is told.
Sometimes… in the story… a lesson is learned.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Restoration Agriculture with Mark Shepard

I just had to share this video.
What the man says makes soooo much sense.... to me, that I wonder why no one has ever thought of it? Is the human species really as smart and advanced as we'd like to think? Or are we just dumb cattle, following our neighbours and doing what we are told to do?
Agriculture on a totally new level.... to us civilised humans.
I am off to get this guy's book....

And he really had me, right there at the end. Love the man because of what he says and shows.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Signs? Of death, on death or about death..?

Lately I find myself stumbling across books, stories, blog posts or other mentionings with one very specific theme; death.
Not death as in dead and gone, end of life, the finished kind of thing, but more death as in a happening, a phase of life, a subject to study and learn about and above all what comes after. Grief, sorrow, the afterlife, whatever you will find after death has happened. That is the message that seems to be coming through; the teachings, not the end.

It started with the "Die wise"- book, which apparently did trigger something. Personally I do believe that that book found its way into my life for a reason..... But shortly after I started with the book I started coming across stories of death, or near death but even more so about death. This book actually acted as a catalyst. making clear to me a lot of things I already knew, believed in or have thought about.... a lot. And still do, including new aspects.

The realisation came to me the other day, when I was putting away books and organising bookshelves. My wife did bring home a few handfuls of books over the past weeks, which she had gotten for free (because I had found them, whilst scouring the internet and I asked her to). Some were useful, some were not and those that weren't to us were set aside to be given on and no more looked at. In the last handful there was a book we already had, so I went and put it with the rest.
And that's when my eye caught sight of a bright yellow cover with the title "Ljusfolket" by Benny Rosenqvist. And it's subtitle "andra sidan -  så funkar det. I read the backside of the cover and here too one of the main themes was the fear of death our culture has these days, just as in Die wise... The other theme was focused on learning how to deal with that. just like Die wise . Ljusfolket continues with subjects like the afterlife and on the lessons of life we need to learn, when we return once more, which Jenkinson's book does not cover, but which is a firm believe I hold myself. I was about to give this book away and the bright yellow cover should have caught my eye previously, but I guess the time wasn't right just yet. Haven't read the book just yet, though. Only browsed through it.

Other stories tell tales of near death incidents or accidents, some pet related, or deaths having occurred in the past, but always with the focus of what comes after that.

I do not expect me or anyone else around here dying anytime soon, although one never knows. But this is not the vibe I am getting. I do not think any of our pets will die, since there too signs are showing other paths. The arrival of Lester and the change of course my wife's career has gotten, seem to be leading us in yet another quite unexpected direction, which involves a very lively life for us and the dogs together.
It turns out that one of my wife's new colleagues is very active in and knowledgeable of dogsledding and everything associated and seems very willing to help and teach us.... and our dogs. And that would mean in an interactive way.. But that will be a different story alltogether.

There is this one passage in Die wise where Jenkinson refers to us and the cost of lives it took to get us here. And that really got me thinking. How many animals indeed did it take for me to arrive where I am now? How many were killed and slaughtered in order to feed me all these years. To clothe me. To give me my leather boots. How many trees were cut down to provide me with the wood I needed to construct the homes I lived in, the furniture I used and these days the warmth they provide in my home. And I haven't even dared to think about all the plants I ate, but even more about the lives lost, both animal and botanical, to make room in order for this all to happen..... The impact is enormous!!
It was mind boggling and I was horrified. But then I also felt a gratitude. A deep gratitude for being here, where I am today.....
It also made me think that all we do is take, but what do we give back? What did I give back? The answer is equally painful. Next to nothing. Not even our bodies, after we die, as Jenkinson so rightfully states. Those could at least feed something....... Until I started realising that I have begun to give back, albeit in a very limited, modest way. I have begun to teach my children to respect all with which they live; man, animal, plant and soil (not necessarily in that order). To understand the connection between them all and the interdependence. And I realised that I had already begun to give back to this small place I inhabit by feeding the soil compost, minerals and dung, even before I start to grow on any mentionable scale. I am going to give it back pollinators this year, from which I only plan to take their surplus after letting them have their share first.
Will I ever be able to repay the "debt" my living has claimed? Not even close. And yes, nature is based on eating or being eaten, but whenever an animal relieves itself, that spot gets fertilized, when it eats it often creates feeding opportunities for others and when it dies, its body becomes food itself. We are the only species that give nothing back at all......
And this is where it all goes wrong; we only take. This is where I feel we should make a change. We should give back as well. Whenever we take crops, we must give back the equal amount in "food" for that soil. Whenever we take trees or habitat, we need to replace them and maybe ( I know this will be touching a taboo in western thinking) we should stop burning or burying our dead, which only costs loads of energy, but leave them in a place, where they can serve a purpose as well. Become a part of the circle by providing sustenance to animal and plant and create a new circle of life instead of tucking them deep into the ground or blowing its energy into the air, where they serve no purpose at all. I once read that that apparently is a common practice in Tibet. they're called sky burials. If you're googling that, prepare for what might be considered stark images! And if I am informed correctly leaving out the dead was common practice if Africa too up until the arrival of christianity and/or islam.
Would I like the idea of the bodies of my loved ones being eaten and decaying out in the woods for instance? I have to admit that in a way that image does trouble me a little, but I do think that that is just cultural indoctrination speaking. As for me I have expressed my desire to become a part of said circle in one way or another a long time ago and so has my wife. Trouble is we're not allowed to.
(I know this is considered to be an thought provoking or even extreme point of view by many, but maybe we should ask ourselves why?)

We need to strike a balance....

Anyway.... as I said it got me thinking....and it keeps me thinking.....
AM I afraid to die? No, not really. Am I afraid of pain? No, not anymore. Just a matter of getting drugged up. But I really do not like the idea of leaving my family behind and if there is one thing I am afraid of, it would be living my final days as not being me; crippled, incapacitated, both physically and mentally. That would be utter torment for me.

I realise that I and the memory of me will find away with time. The "I" as it is today will cease to exist. The spirit will move on though. Go back to where we all originate from, become reborn into a physical being to learn yet another lesson or maybe teach one or receive another task to fulfill. Because that is what I believe. That divine spark that creates "life", that makes a body come alive and gives it personality, is immortal.

And this is one of the things I disagree with Jenkison with. He states we need a place to bury our dead. That that place creates a vital connection between human and land. That that is our anchor and our connection to the dead.
I believe/know that the dead are with us, wherever we are. I have felt my grandfather's presence here and so has my oldest daughter..... who happened to be born on his day of death, quite a bit over the calculated date of birth. I never visited his grave. Didn't and do not see the point. The bodies of the dead are empty husks, which will return to the ground after they have fulfilled their purpose; being a vessel for the spirit and soul. That doesn't mean we should just throw them away like garbage. After all they are the physical remains of the ones we loved and at least some respect should be shown and care should be taken. But as said, stuffing it 6 feet under or blowing it into the air doesn't make any sense, other than sanitary maybe.
And where does this strong, inner connection to the land in which we live now come from? None of my forebears lived here, are buried here or even know the place. Not in a sense as we would understand it historically. But, given the line of thought of returning spirits, it would make perfect sense that I have lived here at some time in the past. That those spirits are far more connected to everything and everyone around me, because those connections are far more expanding than just direct family or lineage. Hence taking care of just the graves/dead in your lineage would be too little. That, to me, we are far more interconnected than just that.

How do I see my own death?? What do I hope for? I don't know. Would I take any and all measures to lengthen my life, despite the odds or outcome? A definite "No" there. As long as I do not need to wither away, tied to machines that make me be, as Metallica once put it. Being an unnecessary emotional or financial burden to my family, community or society. I want to have some dignity left at the end of my physical being here, if possible.
I want them to celebrate my life, my deeds and accomplishments, however few those may be. Which actually is false modesty, since I do have a profound impact on the life of my family of course. And I know it had, has and will have on others too. Equally v.v.
I do not need for my death to have meaning. I already had that with my life. So there is no need to bargain for more time. For a very large part I already did what I needed/wanted to; Meet a loving wife, have a family, raise kids in the right way and with the right ideas and be as kind as I possible can to the place I call home; house, area, planet.... and maybe reaching someone out there and touch them, their mind, their soul into being like that too. Couldn't wish for more....

Would that mean I am ready to die at any time, right now?
I guess, yeah. Pretty much. I have accepted death as the one final and inevitable thing I must undergo. I have accepted that death is my and our companion every step of the way, ever since I was born and that it will come, whenever my time is up. I have accepted that the same applies for those I love too!
But of course I would like to see my kids grow up and watch them go out into the world and maybe complete the circle and I would like to physically be there with them until they do. Watching their children do the same would be a great bonus, if I could do that in good physical and mental health. I would like to grow old with my wife and do my best to be a bit more kind to these places I call home.

But when the time comes, I do believe I am ready. Yes.