Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The economic sword of Damocles...

or the struggle to remain...
or the need to let go....
or a time to clean up and clear out.....
or maybe even final day of the year contemplations?.......

Whatever I or you would want to give this post for title... I don't know, since there are so many possibilities.
I wrote about the great gifts for (or of) christmas and as usual that is immediately followed by some sort of hammerblow. And with us that practically always is economics related. In plain English it means we're flat broke (as usual), but even unable to make ends meet (and that is quite rare, thankfully). What I always fear has happened; an unusual large expense has blown a gaping hole in our budget. Our youngest daughter needed glasses. She has for a long time and we have been putting it off for more than a year. In that year her eyes improved a lot by themselves, but for the final stretch they need help. So we went and got them, thinking we could get them relatively cheap, using a sale. Turns out that that was just for the frame. The actual glasses had to be added.....
We started december on quite ill terms and we end it in due style.... even worse. Yet the past has taught us through events similar to this that there is some change to be made. We need to....
This situation is forcing us to let go of things, sell them, which will eventually unclutter our home and maybe our life as well. It also forces us to re-evaluate our economic situation and as such our situation as a whole. We have to become creative again, reassess priorities and if anything situations like these refuel the resistance to the system. Because it once again becomes crystal clear that this system is not willing to let go of its grip on you. It has bound you, enslaved you and seeks to crush anyone trying to resist, rebel and fight free from it. You must have a job, you must pay your bills and taxes and you must comply with the capitalistic rules... If not the system and its henchmen will bare down hard on you.... Without remorse.... Merciless....
And yet it is not just "the system out there". It is also the system that has been bred into us, into our brains, into our very own systems. The current situation has also taught us that we need to change our selves, our behaviour.....
I for one like to shop in real life and online, hunt for bargains, for things that will be useful.... later. And although I do get those things often dirt cheap, many cheap things add up.... Like all the things we had been getting to use for our company later on. Yet as time passes the materialisation of such an undertaking is becoming ever more doubtful. We are being forced to work towards the original plan A more and more.. Small scale homesteading... Taking care of ourselves and by starting small. Babysteps. I guess I wanted to fly to high all at once. Planning, daydreaming.... which eventually (probably) might have lead to loans and slave labour on my account. I really need to learn how to crawl and walk first, before I can run or maybe even jump... I need to learn patience... I am not a patient man...
The inactivity during the winter months (not taking into account carrying in firewood, since snowshovelling is not an issue... yet) has actually made my physical condition deteriorate. I nagged about the issue with my shoulder and that is to stay. I must accept that. But sitting in my armchair for quite a few hours each day did nothing to improve that. On the contrary. And now I can add lower back problems to that as well. Nothing serious (so far) but severe stiffness, due to immobility and a wrong posture.
It is that we have Rex these days, so I do get out more often than before and last weeks real winter weather sure did help with that! Which unfortunately has gone for now.

We will overcome this. We always do... somehow... miraculously... And some lessons are (re)learned.
We will end the year on less than favorable terms. But that means we can only improve the next year. For if we do not we will have failed utterly. And failure is not an option. Not to me, not to my family. We will remain... We will survive.... But we need to readjust....
We need to find our way, stay on our path and sometimes hitting a wall will put us back on course.

A signpost of the dalkarlsvägen...
We regularly pass it by..
We need to simplify, focus on the essentials and get rid of all that excess weight..... A company of our own would have made things vastly more complicated, however noble our intentions might have been. Maybe at a later moment, when I actually now what I am doing...
On the other hand is it my wife's hobby, which we had planned to include into the company, that has been keeping us afloat these last months, by adding just enough financial buoyancy to keep us from going under. She does wonderful things with wool and wool felting. It has done so for a few years around the holiday season, but now she is stepping things up a bit. Not just by selling, but by actually taking small orders and now by adding workshops. She is finally doing something she really enjoys.

Maybe she is meant to let go of her job as a cleaninglady and release her creative flow. Maybe she is an artist, not an employé.
And maybe I am more of a farmer instead of a woodsman, no matter how much I enjoy being in the woods. 
Maybe it is time we all stopped pretending to be something we are not and is it time to accept and become what we really are or are meant to be....

It is time.... 

And this is the actual link to Andrea Hejlskov's blog, which in a way has prompted me to write this down. It that makes me think and to which I can connect in some unexplainable way. 

What ever you do and where ever you are, have a great new year (if you are into this thing) stay safe and in one piece and use the remaining days of winter to rethink things.... Before the frantic activity of spring takes over....
Take the time of winter to think and readjust and use the energy of spring to act.... That could be my new years resolution.... if I did this sort of thing.
A coincidence in timing... except that I do not believe in coincidence...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

One month with Rex...

And it has been an amazing month!

The changes our dog and our life underwent are amazing! I/we are getting out a lot more, not just because we need to walk the dog, but we also take or try to take one at least one hour walk every day and introduce him to our little corner of the world.
At first we let him get used to us, our voices and our moves, the house, the immediate area around it, but quite soon we started to extend that circle. One of the first things we did, was getting rid of the box with "toys" that came with him. Nothing but plastic crap and ripped up stuffed animals! Deadwrong!! We threw them in the garbagecan and bought him some real dog toys, like a bone made out of dried rawhide. He had no clue what to make of that (still doesn't), even after I showed him... quite literally. He is nuts about tennisballs though.
After a week we started on socialising him. My parents in law came over and all went exceptionally well! He got a huge oxbone, but had no clue what to do with it, although he does now! One morning he lay beside it and our red cat came in, walked over and started liking an gnawing it. He just looked... and did nothing. But only on that occassion! After that he fiercely defended his bone from the cat! And he just can not leave them alone. He had a few punches on the nose, but without claws... There is a healthy respect towards them, but he also wants to play and get close and sometimes becomes a bit pushy. Yet the hisses and growls are getting less threatening and frequent.

The days previous to this month's full moon we noticed that we had an additional familymember susceptible to nearingfullmoonvibes... He got more and more nervous and jumpy.
December's full moon had a special surprise for us in store.
The night was frosty and cold, the sky was crystal clear and my youngest daughter and I looked at the skies in awe. There weren't that many stars visible, but the moon was almost blazing as the sun! So bright... I can not remember having seen it like that often before.
The constant changing weather and temperatures in that period meant that now the air was cold, but the lakes were still relatively warm. This combination make the frozen lakes "steam". The humid air fell down to the water level and condensed, shrouding the surface of the lake in a spooky mist, swirling and rising, lit from behind by the bright moon. A wolfhowl would have meant the finishing touch...

Speaking of which...
During the first week of december there has been a wolfsighting in the village, a mere 400 meters to the north of us. Allegedly the wolf passed between the houses there. Now everyone is going nuts around here. People urging you to keep your dogs leashed, because they might be mistaken for wolves and many a "hunter" here has an twitchy triggerfinger and a general feeling towards wolves that will make them bend that finger first and ask questions later.
Now people start to see wolves everywhere. The neighbouring villages all have their own story.... An army of lone wolves has invaded our part of the world!!

Like I said, the weather has been constantly changing; frost and open skies one day, snow the next, wind, rain, sleet and thaw the day after that to only change to frost again. Conditions were pretty hopeless. Weather for broken bones and hypothermia! Don't be fooled by the wintery pictures. On other occasions I had no chance on taking pictures. Too busy to keep my footing! Or camera dry....
On some days the road surface was a single, flat, shiny surface of ice, maybe even covered with water. And oh, what fun it is to be out in that with a dog that has tons of energy and just wants to go and pull....pull...pull.... Because that's what he wants to do! Makes you learn where to look to put your feet for a firm footing real fast!
This constant changing of weather and temperature also has an audible effect; the ice is in constant movement, extending, contracting as it thaws and refreezes, which creates the weirdest and scariest sounds imaginable! It groans and wails with long outdrawn sounds, changing in volume and and intensity. Occasionally it releases its tensions with a sharp bouncing sounds, like a pressurised coil being let loose or gives with a whipping crack. These sounds roll through the valley and I really can understand that folks used to think of those sounds as spirits or ghosts! They are loud and creepy enough to wake me up in the middle of the night.

Another experience with him was when I was walking him late one evening. It was a moonless, starless, overcast night and some of the streetlights in our village weren't working. As I often do, I turned off my headlight, just to feel the darkness. Yes, it gets that dark. On this particular night there was some snow on the ground. Enough to turn the lakes and streets white as a sheet, yet not enough to cover the fields. These were still a mottled white. Behind that rose the dark wall of the forest edge and over it hung the low clouds, vaguely lit by the scattered, remaining dome of light of some of the larger living areas in our part of the world. The nearest one is 35km away... It was a beautiful yet ominous site. Quite impressive I can tell you.
Add to that the groaning, mooing and wailing sounds of the ice and it becomes quite eery actually.

Something else I am learning to look at, is Rex himself. It is fascinating to study him and learn his body language. Learning from that, makes me see more tracks and wildlife! He is quite enthusiastic with his nose, but regularly gives away clues that something "special" was there. It makes me pay even more attention to the immediate area and I see animal signs more often. I also see more animals themselves, too. If there is anything near, he will stop dead in his tracks, stand tall and still, focussed, his eyes and ears peeled..... And sometimes I can see what he is seeing; a marten, a squirrel or even a pair of them, clung to the stem of a pine...
It gets slightly unnerving when he does that and I can not see what he is seeing.... Be that in broad daylight in the middle of the forest or in the above described darkness, on the edge of field and forest.... with nothing in between... it..... and us. Not that I fear the animals, but annoying a fullgrown moose out there in the open......
On other occasions he will simply turn into the wind, make himself taller than he already is, lift his nose and just gaze upon the area in front of him, taking it all in.... On those moments he truly is a Rex!

Unfortunately he also shows signs of trauma. He grovels and creeps across the floor as soon as one of us raises his voice against him. Not shouting or yelling, just raising it is enough... He winces and turns and he desperately tries to appease us.
We also noticed that he is scared out of his wits by large, dark pieces of cloth. We found out when we tried to dry and clean him up a bit after a long walk in wet, muddy conditions. It was real sad to see him cower behind the livingroom chairs.... We have a long road ahead of us.

Is it all love, fun and games, then?
No, certainly not. We are of course experiencing growing pains, while we are getting accustomed to each other. In my case that sometimes was quite literally so, as he swept me off my feet, when trying a (very) long leash. While I was trying to untangle the damn thing, Rex took off..... By the time he had reached the end of the line he was at full speed and I had not noticed the loop around my feet... He had so much speed that my feet were swept up in the air and I crash landed shoulder and hip first into the frozen and icy road.
Another time he gave me a full blown headbutt, slamming his skull onto the edge of my left eye socket, as he came storming down the stairs, making a sharp left turn, while jumping up.... I was just bent over, tying my boots.... and I will not mention the bloody nose... where yours truly was on the receiving end yet again in a similar matter...
In both occasions, after a series of smaller incidents those days, I lost my temper and shouted at him ( in those circumstances I do have a voice of a Prussian sergeant-major on an exercise field would've be proud off) and that does not sit well with him. He seems scared of me now or at least intimidated and I might have to work on him trusting me again. A good lesson in patience for me as well.
He is often restless, behaving like a juvenile delinquent or constantly seeking attention.... preferably in the middle of the night.... 5 or 6 times. Feels like having a small child again, which is in puberty and has ADHD.
We really need to find ways to channel his seemingly boundless energy and I am hoping for more snow than the 2-3cm we have right now. For now we have to be content with that and double digit minus temperatures. For we are having real winter right now!

But then again, he has only been with us for a month and the progress we have made with him is huge! Yes, he can be a tad stubborn or pigheaded, but I would not want a slave-like obedient dog anyway! And his obedience is growing by the day. We are already in the process of learning him the outdoorcommands, still figuring out which ones work best for us and him. And I know he will become less of a loose canon on deck as he matures. He still has some growing to do, both mentally and physically.
And yet... his youthfulness does have its positive effects.... It helps me getting of my butt and playing with him really is fun.... despite his powerfull bite sometimes. I do have funny dark and yellow marks on hands and lower arms..

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The season of giving and receiving.

Tonight is the longest night of the year, winter solstice and for many that means preparing for the christmas festivities. For me it means more the lengthening of days, the return of sunlight and the nearing of spring (how ever long it still may seem) and the start of the seasons of growth.
For many it is a period of madness, of frantic activity, of stress and of buying, buying, buying.....
For us it traditionally has become a season of dread, of dreariness and of worry, because this is the period that puts more strain on our economics than any other and this year is one of the least prosperous ones... Top that off with some extra expenses in the form of expected and unexpected bills, cover it with an icing of bad memories and a deep, inner sense of privation and you might understand why I am really developing a serious dislike of the december month, despite all the lights and "cheerfulness" of christmas.
And yet this time is also the time we were on the receiving end of some of the most wonderful gifts people have to offer; the gifts of understanding, of compassion, but above all the gift of friendship..
The first gift we got, was the gift of a new family member, because that is what Rex already has become in this short period since we got him.
Another gift we had the fortune to receive, was that of understanding and compassion. More people here started to realise and understand what our life looks like and what strain that places on us as a family and what toll that is taking from us as parents. It feels so heartwarming and above all encouraging for us to know and to feel that people (are beginning to) understand..... It breaks that paralysing feeling of isolation.
The third gift we were to receive this year was that of friendship, friends of old and new, far away and nearby.... We were blessed to welcome some friends from long ago, again and we very fortunate to deepen some contacts on a local level after summer and these have turned into friendships and about a week ago, we could count ourselves lucky to repeat that process once more. This resulted in an invitation to a 50th birthday celebration and a wonderful feast because of that. No fancy party, but a gathering of people, sharing food, drink, conversation, songs and laughter... Ohh how I had missed this!!
As a result of those developing understanding and those friendships we were offered gifts in a material sense. Some of those were complete surprises and some we thankfully and respectfully declined, since we were no longer in need at the moment.
One of those dear people would not have any talk about not being able to repay that. She just said that we gave ourselves.... which is indeed the only gift we have to give and which we give with all our hearts.

Because of this, the base of our christmastree will no longer be empty on christmasmorning, but, through others, we can give our kids a few little somethings in order to show them our appreciation for the things they do and the way they manage themselves and the situation....

That is another gift to me; the gift of immense pride in my kids, my wife, in me... In us!
It gives me strength and confidence that we will make it, no matter what.

And I sincerely wish you all those gifts as well...
Love and friendship
Pride and family
Life is empty and cold without them...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Bushcraft or outdoor shoulderbags.....

Yes, dear folks,
it is time again for some geartalk!! 
Yes, you might as well admit it.... You've been waiting for it, haven't you?
All that gibberish talk about environment, inner thoughts and social issues... 

But rest assured... You may feast your eyes on a good handfull of bags!
In this case shoulderbags unfortunately a.k.a. manpurses... But I hate that term, because it does not do the shoulderbags used for outdoorpurposes any justice. A manpurse is something for those fashionable posh guys, who need to carry their mobiles, mascaras and beardgrooming waxes. No, a shoulderbag is for men, who need a place to carry their compasses, knives, bandages and what not with them.
And over time I have collected and tried a number of them, each with their pros and cons and I'd like to compare them here along with my experiences with them. I used my firekit, coffee container and mug to fill the bags in order to make some sort of comparison.

The ransel is a carkit, the pukkel is my son's.
The finbag I still have, the gasmaskbag is on the for sale-list and the ammobag is still in use.
The breadbag is sold and the medicbag remains...

First of all the specifications and requirements I have for those shoulderbags.
The reason for using those is because I do not want to clutter my pockets with all kinds of bits and bobs. I hate that, yet I do want to have a few essentials close at hand. Using a belt is not always the most handy thing to do either, although that would eliminate an annoyingly flapping and tapping bag on your hip or butt. For me a shoulderbag just is more comfortable and easy in use.
The bag has to be roomy enough for the things I need or think I need, yet not too large to become cumbersome and to avoid the risk of overloading it. It is not meant to be used as a daypack (originally)! So here's a rundown of the ones I used, tried, tested, kept, sold or gave away.

The British army S10 respirator bag or haversack
Country of origin is the UK and it is military issue.
Measurements in cm (I have to guess now) would be about 25x25x8

image found on the internet...
This is the green one I gave the local scoutgroup as a firstaidkit.

A good shoulderbag, sturdy, yet not overly heavy, not too big or too small, with a decent internal layout. 2 Larger pockets on the sides, a few smaller ones to the front and plenty of room in the middle plus an external pocket. I really liked the elestic straps on the inside of the lid! A very handy bonus was the option to attach it to your wastebelt, which is actually very easy, because you simply clip the bag to the belt. The camouflageversion had a broadened shoulderpiece. There is a small hole in the bottom to allow water to drain away and even a loop on the back to strap it to your thigh. It felt very solid and durable.
Downsides; For one it uses velcro for closing the flap, which is sewn into the seam. I strongly dislike velcro. The noise it makes... and that is loud on top of that! Than there was the camouflagepattern... so I went for green. The shoulderstraps felt uncomfortable, cutting into the shoulder, when the bag was loaded. Some padding might have solved that, but still the strap felt.... inadequate, thin and not rigid enough. The artificial fibre it was made of was the final point that made me look for other options.
In all honesty, if this one was made out of canvas and leather I would have found a way to get rid of the velcro and probably still have it.

The Dutch army webbing bag a.k.a. "pukkel"

The specimen shown here no longer is mine, but belongs to my son. I hauled mine long enough in my armydays to know it.... and I did use a similar one in my highschool days and after my armyservice. Based on the WW2 British webbingsystem, it is a heavyduty and bombproof bag, which can both be carried as a shoulderbag by using a webbing strap or as a small backpack by using L-straps. I have to say that the shoulderstrap option is the preferable one, with none of them actually being comfortable. The fabric is too coarse and heavy for that. It is part of an complete system, comprising of a webbingbelt, 2 long crossstraps or 2 L-straps, which then connect to the belt via a smaller strap and buckle. Despite it's lack of comfort, or maybe just because of it, this system is highly durable and will most likely outlast any user in the field. Due to this durability, it is also quite heavy. I guess the system outweighs any modern 50+ liter backpack, when empty. However it is also quite versatile. One can hook or clip several tools, canteens or pouches onto the belt and drop the whole system off in the blink of an eye. The weight will be (sort of) evenly distributed over the upper body.

As a shoulderbag it was quite usefull, due to its size 23x24x7cm and with its internal layout of a large compartment in the back and 2 compartments in the front. Main drawback was that these compartments were only divided by the walls. The bottom was not connected, so any small stuff would be moving around. It does have some extra loops on the outside, 2 on each side and one at the top, that makes carrying a tarp, jacket or similar quite easy.

And it's large brother 
the "ransel", 
but this time in plastic/vinyl

The only reason why I include this one, is to show that both bags are available both in webbing and in this plastic/vinyl. The ransel does have the same carrying options as the pukkel, but it is way to big to comfortably carry it as a shoulderbag, being 34x31x13cm. It has no internal layout and I actually use this one as a carry-all in the car. Keeps all the stuff like startercables, reflective triangle, basic tools and necessities neatly and dry packed together. Needles to say the comparison gear simply disappeared in the bag...

The German army WW2-style breadbag or "Brotbeutel"

Mine actually was a specimen dating from the early 50's and despite its generous size 30x30x8 I actually found it too small for practical use. I wonder how the soldiers managed to pack their rations in it. I could never fit a 24hr ration in there. I used it for a while, but then simply stopped doing so. It was not for me and now it has found a new owner....
As a shoulderbag I found it to be too much of a... well... bag. It is floppy, lacks rigidity.
It has 3 compartments; 2 in the bag itself and 1 in the closing flap. It all buttons down with one strap on the inside and 2 for the lid.
It has several external attachmentloops, which only makes the bag hop and flop even more. Originally it comes with a detachable carryingstrap, but it also has loops to hang it from your belt. That can be done without taking off the belt, but the loops are quite long, making the bag ride low and bump into your butt all the time. I try to imaging what it must be like, having filled the bag with food, attach a full canteen and fieldmesskit to it and than run for cover, whilst under enemyfire!

As a shoulderbag for small items it lacked the possibilty to sort the gear and keep it in place and the limited closing options, making it likely for small things to fall out and be lost.
It was more of a statement than actual practical use, when I used this one and I have grown out of that.

The Finnish army gasmaskbag
standardissue image varusteleka
Via an onlinebuddy I got hold of one of these Finnish army gasmaskbags, at that time highly sought after by many on the various bushcraft forums. It was a gift from him, directly from the country of origin.
and after I was done with the modifications.
I really did like the look and feel of this bag. Made out of a light weight canvas it matched my wants, it was roomy and easily accessible. Quiet too. So I started filling it up with bobs 'n bits and quickly came to one of the main drawbacks of this bag; it lends itself to be overloaded! It has too much room! A luxuryproblem, I know but still... Due to this overloading the closingstuds tended to pop open, while moving. A highly undesirable thing when creeping through the woods. So I started tinkering with it, making an additional closingstrap, added some loops et voila....

As a result it became even more overloaded, but it did hold together. This overloading did nothing for the carrying comfort, though. The straps are too thin for that. I remedied that by adding a broader piece which goes on top of the shoulder. But still it did not carry too well. It is too bulky.
It might make a great buttpack, but that would require a complete reworking of the straps. Sliding it over to your back does ot work, when using both the shoulder- and wastestrap.

The bag itself is quite good. Lots of room, several separate compartments, both big and small and the small pockets in the front have a lid with snaps. Everyting is easily organised and remains in place.
However it does not feel like it is made to last. The fabric is thin, the stitching is simple and in some cases the edges do not even have a seam. The clasps on the straps are nothing more than bent metal wire.
It measures 32x25x12cm roughly, has one large compartment, a lesser one next to it and an array of smaller pockets in several sizes in front. These have one, single flap over them, keeping all those small parts in there.
There seem to be several versions of this type of bag with slightly different layouts and colours!

The Swedish army M40 medicbag

image of an original found on
During my internet quest for the ideal shoulderbag I came across images of the m39 förbandsväska and everything about it appealed to me! The looks, the materials and the probable usefulness! So I set out to track and find one..... Turned out these things are hard to find! Especially in a useable condition and for a good price... Pretty expensive pieces of equipment. Saw them for 1000kr.-1500kr. a piece, but these came with all the original contents and in mint condition.
Untill... one evening... while I was at the local scoutinggroup, I found one. It was the scouting's medical kit.... or something that should be one. The lid had black marker pen writings all over it, the leather straps at the front had been torn and the contents were hopelessly mess up and sometimes very dated. So I made a deal with the groupleader; I'd take that old raggedy bag and would return another one, clean, intact, scout proof and sorted out. He agreed!
At home I immediately set to work, trying the bag and its possibilities. It was a lot bigger than anticipated! I shoved in a set of messtins, a hobostove and pot, a full firstaidkit, a foldingmug, binos and a lot of small stuff.... and I had room to spare! I really had misjudged its size. I can easily carry a full daykit in it, yet the broad leather carryingbelt does not dig into the shoulder, like those thin canvas straps did. But still one would feel it after a days hiking.
The bag is made out of a high quality canvas, to which I added new leather straps and added a cowskin piece on top of the lid, concealing the writing and hopefully give some water repellency. The bag itself measures 32x29x11cm, it has a sturdy leather, adjustable strap and the interior is divided into 2 larger pockets in the front, 2 larger pockets in the back, with one of them holding 2 small pockets in the back. In between there is room to spare. None of them can be closed however.
This bag has become my standard daypack. It rides comfortably on my lower back, is within easy reach and access and it is quiet. No snaps popping or velcro tearing up the silence.

The Swedish army M36 gasmaskbag
Or gasmaskväska m36

Another Swedish surplusbag from this era is the gasmaskbag. It is by far the smallest of the lot and I got that one for a special purpose; to hold a Swedish army messkitset. I figured it might just ne big enough and that little pocket on the front might hold the bottle... Well, wrong.
The bag is just a hint too small for that. The messkit fits sort of, but the rigid leather bottom is just too narroiw to allow the kit to slide all the way to the bottom. Still you can close the bag. But with the kit in place, you can not add the bottle to the pocket. A few more cm's circumference and it would be a perfect fit! Ahh, well... can't have it all, can ya? It measures 25x23x7cm.
The bag itself is kind of stylish, because or despite its ugliness  and what you see is basically what you get; a sturdy canvas bag with a thick, rigid leather bottom, a small pocket on the front and metal studs and leather straps for closing it.
The shoulder- and wastestraps are canvas. Mine has a brown leather bottom, but I saw them with green leather bottoms too.
It'll have to go too...


 The Swedish army/Hemvärnet M40 ammobag

And finally the star of my shoulderbagshow these days..... A Swedish homedefence ammopouch.
I stumbled across it but accident, never having seen one before or since and this one has it all! The materials, the size, the pockets.....
In due time I will need to replace the leatherparts, since they have become quite dry and brittle or maybe I'll just leave it as it is and alter the other one, which is broken and incomplete as it is. It misses one part of the carryingstrap, yet has a nicer darker greyish green colour. I might add a beltclip and wax it too.
 They cost me a whopping 3kr. each. That's 31 eurocents or 39 dollarcents....
As you can see they are basic, no nonsense canvaspouches, 1 single leather closingstrap in the front and an adjustable leather shoulderstrap. Measurements: 27x23x8.
The interior is made up of 2 large compartments over the entire width and 3 smaller pockets against the back. I guess the first held the ammoclips and the latter were for tools. So now they hold those small items I think necessary; compas, sharpeningstone, firesteel.
I added the containers for displaypurposes only, since carrying food in it is not an option. No room. It does have room for a pair of gloves, a gatheringbag, noteblock and pencil and other tidbits.
Chances of overloading this one are practically non existent...

And as a bonus I'll throw in my own, selfmade shoulderbag. It is made out of canvas shelterhalf leftovers and I tried to show some of the characteristics of those shelterhalves, like buttons&holes, markings and even a rope eyelet. Size is about 35x35 and it is flat. The "W"-marking happens to be the first letter of my last name...
I use it, when I am working, harvesting potatoes and such. It doesn't really matter if it gets dirty or damaged. It was more of a learning, funproject that is now being put to use.

Friday, December 12, 2014

One year No Plastic by Rob Greenfield

Given my sentiments on the overabundance of plastics in our world, I thought I'd share an interesting item I found on the internet.
I share many of the points of view presented...

Merren Tait  is simply incredible. She went a year without plastic and afterwards a few of my friends told me I should interview her, so I did.  By the end of my interview with her I had already fallen in love with her mind.  She is simply brilliant and sees the world in a way most people never will. It’s obvious to me how intelligent she is and how well thought out all of her actions are.  That is greatly admirable to me.  Dedication like she’s shown changes you forever and I can certainly relate to her experience, especially from Off grid across AmericaThis interview with Merren is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to reduce their impact on the environment and live a life full of happiness, health, and freedom.

Rob: What’s the deal with plastic?  Why should anyone avoid using it?
Merren: The key thing about plastic is that it doesn’t biodegrade. It will break down, but it will never completely dissipate which means it’s incredibly harmful to the environment as it performs as a toxin, leaching into soil and waterways. This means that every piece of plastic ever produced still exists in some form in the world. Considering that we’re collectively producing over 225 million tonnes of plastic a year, there’s a frightening amount of plastic pollution happening.
Rob: Many of my friends are gung-ho about recycling but they don’t understand how resource intensive recycling is.  They think they are doing a great thing for the environment when they recycle.  What would you say to someone who thinks this?
Merren: Recycling is a poor answer. It could be likened to an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, but it barely performs as a stretcher as plastic can only be reproduced into lesser quality products. The shelf life of recycled plastic is unfortunately very finite. And don’t forget that by buying any kind of plastic (recyclable or not) we are indirectly supporting the petro-chemical industry, of which plastic is a by-product.
Rob: Could you explain why reduce comes before reuse and recycle in the 3 R’s?
Merren: Recycled plastic has a fairly large environmental footprint. Most of the Western world’s recyclable plastic is shipped offshore, mostly to China, and even then not all that plastic is destined to be recycled. If there is no market for a new product, the plastic is landfilled.  Reuse is not a great answer if you value your health. Plastic leaches toxins, and this is accelerated once the integrity of the plastic is compromised (which reuse will do). A lot of plastic reuse occurs around food consumption; reusing grocery bags, snap lock bags, plastic food containers designed for single use like take away containers, so the potential to affect your health through plastic reuse is very real.
So there are several key issues associated with ‘reuse’ and ‘recycle’ and ultimately by choosing to simply reduce your purchase of plastic, you are not supporting an industry that is incredibly harmful.
Rob: Tell me a little bit about how you got here.  When did you start to care about how your life impacted the earth and why?
Merren: While I’ve always valued the environment, it’s only been in the last few years that I have become really conscious of how wasteful the modern, Western lifestyle I have been brought up in is. When I moved away from the bustle of the city to a slow-paced small town with a green ethos, I guess I had the time to reflect on my behavior as a consumer, and I was encouraged by the shared values others around me had. I initially sought to make Raglan a plastic-bag free town, but when businesses showed absolutely no support I thought there might be another way to encourage local consumers to change their behavior, something that would have a greater impact on throwaway plastic use. Plastic Free July was a wonderful answer.
Rob: Could you please explain the premise of your year without plastic?
Merren: I happened on a trailer for a documentary about the tragic effect plastic pollution has on an albatross colony. It was called, Midway: Message from the Gyre and it was profoundly affecting. I wanted to find out what people were doing in order to curb plastic pollution and my Google search threw up an initiative called Plastic Free July in which participants pledge to avoid using single use plastic for all or part of the month of July. I thought it would be a challenge that people in my community would be receptive to, but thought I needed to do something a little dramatic to promote it and give it a high profile. So I decided to challenge myself to not buy any plastic (not just the single use stuff) for a whole year. It worked; Plastic Free July has just had its second successful year in my hometown.
Rob: Compare the first day and the first month of your year without plastic to the last month.  Did it get easier?
Merren: I was pretty well prepared. It was not something I felt I could walk into cold turkey, so I spent a lot of time researching alternatives before I began. I thought my discoveries could assist others so set up a blog that runs more like a plastic-free website for anyone wanting to reduce their plastic use; I actually think my year got harder towards the end as all the things I couldn’t purchase before started to become a temptation.
Plastic Purge – Things Merren removed before the challenge
Rob: Was there anything you had to go without that you could not find a plastic free alternative for?
Merren: Wine. That was hard. All wine in New Zealand comes with screw caps. Under the lid, the seal is made from polystyrene. I really love a glass of wine with dinner, but I guess in the scheme of things it’s not much of a hardship to do without.
Rob: What was your social life like during your year without plastic?
Merren: Yes it certainly presented some difficulties. Thankfully people were supportive, so the difficulties were practicalities as opposed to conflicting ideologies. My friends were good about taking away any plastic they bought into my house with them, and understood that I was very restricted with my choice of food and beverage when I was hosting or asked to contribute to meals etc. Being plastic free made hosting unexpected guests challenging. The majority of my food had to be fresh, and I simply didn’t have snack or quick and easy food available to prepare.
Plastic items that Merren had to do without replacing for one year
Rob: What were the hardest items to find a plastic free alternative for?
Merren: Some medicinal items and anything to do with the health of my cat. If you look closely at the landfill I accumulated during my year you will see blister packs and specialty cat food for my hypo-allergenic cat. I had decided at the outset that health would be an exception to the rules I set myself, but I tried my best to avoid plastic packaged health products anyway. I found most alternative medicines have plastic somewhere in the packaging too.

Merren’s Landfill
Rob: What are you going to use now that you had to give up during the year without plastic?
Merren: Dental floss. I will continue with most of my plastic-free habits, but I really value my teeth.
Rob: If you were the minister of plastic what would you change worldwide?
Merren: That’s easy. Ban the production of single use plastic would be foremost, starting with plastic bags. Second on the list would be to prohibit plastics that are proven to be detrimental to health like ones containing PBA.
Rob: What is more evil- conventionally grown unpackaged tomatoes or plastic packaged organically grown tomatoes?
Merren: That is a tricky one. I have no faith in plastic (especially soft varieties) in terms of the toxins that they could leach into food; plastic is not inert and is linked to cancer and infertility among other health issues. And of course then there are waste issues. It is very difficult to say yes to plastic over a non-packaged product.
Rob: What are the 5 most important steps that we can all take to live a life with less plastic?
1. Be prepared to be inconvenienced. Plastic exists to make our lives easier, so if you want to really make a change you will have to allow things to be a little harder sometimes. This might mean leaving your full shopping trolley in the store and returning to your car because you left your reusable bags in the boot. It also means planning ahead. It can be difficult to grocery shop off the cuff if you don’t have bags with you or if you are in a rush and don’t have the luxury of time to make considered choices.
2. Ask your grandma: the best way to think around plastic problems is to remember there was a time before plastic. Plastic has only been in common usage since the late 1970s so talk to someone who’s a generation or two older than you and find out what they used.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask. As consumers, we have a lot of power because the bottom line is that producers want your money. I did a lot of asking in terms of plastic packaging being removed, or avoided altogether, or alternatives to plastic being sought, and never once got a no. The more we demand change, the more likely change will happen.
4. Make some essential purchases to implement small change: a reusable coffee cup, a reusable water bottle, reusable shopping bags.
5. Find a food store that has bulk food. You will be able to fill your own bags and avoid the plastic packaging that can’t be recycled.
Rob: Besides plastic, what are the five most important steps we can all take to live a more earth friendly.
1. Be resourceful: can you fix it? Can you make or adapt something that will fulfill the same function? Can you borrow it? Do you really need it? It’s easy to fall in the capitalist trap of buying something we think we need because it’s the easiest thing to do.
2. Take the time to enjoy the place where you live: if we value and appreciate our environment (whether it be the city or wilder, greener places) we will treat it with more respect.
3. Use your democratic rights to affect change: be very considered when you vote in local and national elections. Do your research and find out who has the best environmental policies.
4. It’s not easy being green: we would all love to live the most efficiently that we can, but the reality is that our modern lifestyle, infrastructure, financial constraints, time constraints etc mean it’s not that simple for many of us. So focus on making small changes at a time and celebrate the little stuff.
5. Lead by example: never think that your small action won’t have any impact. What you do will have an effect on those around you, and the cumulative effect on the environment will be so wonderfully valuable.
Rob: What were the greatest lessons or take-aways you got from your year without plastic?
Merren: That there are an incredible amount of people that want the same thing as me; a world without unnecessary plastic. It has been very motivating and also reassuring that we are moving in the right direction. In the time that I have been plastic-free, a healthy number of local governments have moved to ban plastic bags, including a city where materialism and consumerism are upheld; LA. How inspiring!

source; Rob Greenfield's blog