Thursday, February 26, 2015

The time has come... or has it?

For days.. weeks now I keep having this image of the old Rafiki from the Lion King in my head, saying:"It is time..." and I can not shake it off!

The previous week saw a string of events happening that made quite an impression.
I had some great conversations with people I only recently have met online, which put certain things in another light. A clearer light maybe... Meanwhile we were finally able to lighten the financial pressure a little bit, but we already feel that we have a little more room to breath. We suffered from a delay and all of a sudden it was being dealt with within 2 days... The crushing weight has been lifted ever so slightly.
I also received a wonderful gift from one of those people, Bee. She send me Ben Hewitt's The nourishing homestead. (He wrote more books, of which we have "Saved". My wife is reading it right now..) A wonderful book and you can expect a review of it soon.

Then I came across some blogposts; Andrea's, Revelation and Ben's Your life rocks, which equally made an impact and rung a bell. Make sure to read them... really. And finally we received a phonecall with the request for a meeting and an offer to continue the learning process of seeding and selling plants on a commercial basis, in the greenhouses again.
Simultaneously, or maybe because of these events, my vision of having a business of my own, which revolve around growing and selling young vegetable plants, came back, more vivid and stronger than before. As written about here; I have a dream... But I am also having cold feet.... Should I really pursue these goals, which would mean taking a second loan/mortgage? I know I should start out on a small scale and avoid scenario, but there is no room around here to do so.

Yet earlier on my wife and I had firmly decided that this year our first steps in real homesteading were to be made. Seeds to be sown, plants to be planted and tended, crops to be harvested and processed (hopefully!!) No more faffing about. Get it done!! And maybe, somewhere down the line, we'll find a way or an opportunity to combine the two.

It really feels like the time has come to act.... A higher calling or approaching spring messing with our thoughts and emotions. It doesn't matter. We will be off on a journey, a new adventure... Or commencing our present journey, yet taking the wheel in our own hands and setting out a new course. Feels like the wind in our sails is picking up, Let's just hope it will not turn into a full blown hurricane with towering waves coming crashing down. Rough seas ahead, but beyond the horizon new ports, new destinations and maybe even new lands to be discovered.

The previous week also saw a few days with a warm spell. Thaw hit us and the lands turns into the lands of ice and water. Since then the weather steadied down quite a bit; little thaw during the day, little frost during the night and mostly overcast skies sending us some drizzle, a dash of sleet or a flurry of thick, wet snow. The longing for spring got triggered and now it is being smothered... Going out has become treacherous once more, but soon it'll all be gone.

And just for fun I'd like to share a memorable moment...
As I sat in my chair, reading Ben's book I was suddenly very aware of the moment. Wife and oldest daughter being out, shopping groceries, son is his own room, Rex at my feet snoring, the house silent, except for the kitchen clock ticking away.....
I watched my youngest daughter play, snuggled into a small, cosy corner between the couches and a bookshelf, with her favorite stuffed toy and her recently selfmade, out of socks and rice, snowman. She played silently, but I could see the plot and dialog, going on in her head, shown in her face. I don't know how long I watched her. 5,10, maybe 15 minutes, forgetting even the book on my lap... Until suddenly she jumped up and ran to her room, breaking the spell.... She went and got some stones to add to her play and I was once again thankful for the camera on my cellphone...
And outside the snow fell. A veil.... no, more a curtain of thick, wet flakes of snow came hurtling down, thawing up almost as fast as they fell, forming a thin white, mushy layer on the ground and leaving the thin twigs of the birchtrees hanging in a heavy, wet sadness... My tea had gone stonecold...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A wake up call

This week my parents in law had some visitors from Holland, being one of my wife's nieces and her boyfriend. She hadn't been here for 5 years and he had never seen Sweden before. I hadn't seen her in 4 years and she has become quite a young lady. Made me realise how "old" I had become... He would very much like for me to show him the woods around here and we agreed to have a hike on tuesday. Weatherforecast looked good. This was a good opportunity to test my framed backpack construction in earnest. I loaded it up to about 20kg, making sure I did bring stuff that might come in handy; shelter, first aid, food, 2 water filled canteens, mess kit set, hatchet, firekit... the lot.
For him I brought the Savotta backpack with some wool stuff, like a Swedish pullover and some wristwarmers. He had told me he had trouble with cold hands constantly. I also added a thermos with hot coffee, just in case. I also strapped 2 pairs of snowshoes and 2 pairs of gaiters to the packs and they later added their food to the load.
Here I was... For the first time taking "NOOB's" into the Swedish woods... under winterconditions... My responsibility. Not only to get them in and out in one piece, but also to show them our world and let them enjoy it. I looked at all my plans and went for the simplest one. In hindsight a good call.

This is how they responded to my trick...
She decided to join us and I took them to the traditional site for our family, the place where it also all began for me.
The trip towards the lake was quite uneventful, although the weather did not play along. It was grey instead of sunny, temperatures were freezing instead of being plus and there was quite a bit of wind... They wanted to take pictures with the cellphones, but that did not work. Not with mittens and all. So I showed them my nosetrick. I learned to take pictures using my nose on the cellphonescreen. Saves a lot of fiddling with gloves and such... even if it isn't the most charming way to do it.
In between the trees we were fine and we did see quite some animalsign; the usual suspects like fox, deer, moose. But also some large doglike prints. Big, spread out toes, shallow, long stride and in a straight line. They did not follow a track or path and there were no human signs. There had been no one there for a few weeks. We also found big mooseprints, some 20cm across at least and, a first for me, capercaillie. Large prints too, around 5-7cm per toe.
I heard him whistling on occasion and it dawned on me that he was trying to break the silence. For city people used to having noise around them constantly, the silence can be overpowering, even menacing out here. So I asked them in a joking manner if they would like to hear something that would scare most people today. They wanted to, so we stopped and I silenced them.... We listened intently... And there it was.... silence.... nothing but the wind in the trees.... No man made noises... nothing.... and he got it. He acknowledged he made noise to keep out the silence.... After that she did try out the snowshoes and liked them. She was surprised at the float of them, especially after he stomped around next to her without snowshoes and sunk down to his knees. Unfortunately her shoes were too small for the bindings, even after I added more holes in the straps. Her toes came loose.
Down at the lake it was a quite different story. It lies at the bottom of a large bowl, trapping the cold and there was a strong wind blowing in, while it was freezing, which made conditions quite unpleasant. I hung up a poncho as a makeshift windshelter, but it ballooned like a ship's sail. I tried to light a fire the "right" way, doing all the firepreparations as usual, but I ended up cheating.... by using a good dose of fuel from the messkit ( a failsafe measure) I had brought along. It wasn't really cheating. It was a shortcut. We needed the warmth of the fire. Turned out the wood I was using had gotten wet at some point and was frozen, regularly engulfing us with a biting smoke. In the end we succeeded heating up the sausages we brought, so we at least had something warm to eat. But it did take a while. Not until I got a bed of coals did the fire produce enough radiating heat to warm the meat... including our own. It simply blew away, often with flames blowing horizontally. In other circumstances I would have relocated immediately, but the options here were limited.
From the corner of my eye I saw her shiver and becoming pale. Her clothes were inadequate, despite the ski overpants she was wearing. They might serve the fashionstatements in Holland and probably keep her warm for a short while when going from vehicle to building, but out here... Good thing I did bring a thermos with hot coffee....
My own fingers went numb quite fast, despite knitted finger gloves (not much use in high winds anyway) and I couldn't help but thinking that it started to resemble an emergency situation. Not that it was in any way, but the ingredients were there. When we had eaten I asked if they wanted to leave and she quickly, without hesitation said yes. So we packed up and headed back. The going uphill was a little tough for me with the deep snow and heavy backpack, but it got my blood pumping and I quickly warmed up, even to the point where I started sweating by the time we reached to forest on the top of the hill and after a short while we were all warm and cheerful again. Yet somehow the trip back was more quiet than on the way in.
On the way back we occasionally had to go downhill for short stretches and on many of those the road was covered in ice. A thick sheet of ice that looked like polished and on one of those stretches the wind caught me and simply blew me away. I was standing still on the ice and I just moved!!! A weird sensation.
When we made it back we talked a little more and I had asked him if he was allowed to purchase own gear when in the military. I advised him to get some decent wool socks and gear, when he would go out in the field and explained why. He had also tried the Swiss gaiters and I advised him to get a pair. They're cheap and greatly enhance comfort in wet circumstances or in deep snow and increase durability of the pants in rough conditions and undergrowth. The Swedish pullover had kept his hands warm, thanks to the part that goes over the wrist and thumb.
I must admit that I was also feeling quite smug of myself.... being able to keep up (while wearing a 20kg backpack) with an 18 year old and a 17 year old, who's being trained to join the military soon. Some sort of introductory year..
Later this week they visited our place and during the conversation he mentioned Bear Grylls... and that he liked what the man did on tv. I looked at him and said that if he liked that he should try looking at or reading some guys who really knew what they were doing without false pretences. I showed him Ray Mears' Outdoor survival handbook, Elssworth Jaeger's Wildwood wisdom and Mors Kochanski's Bushcraft. More about those; here. He couldn't keep his eyes out of those books! And he took them with him to read them some more for the duration of his stay in Sweden. They already decided they'll be back this summer. I have an idea of what might happen then... Something might have been awoken there..

There was something that did strike me during that short hike this week... And also during later conversations.
We talked about the things that are on our minds, including my in-law's, these days... Y'know.. about what's wrong with society these days, the omnipresent suppressing power of commerce and our financial rulers, the lies and deceit..... and all I noticed was a blank stare... I must have sounded like a rambling geezer!!  I was taken back a little... They had no clue! At first I credited that to their youth. After all they are still very young and no one had taken the trouble of telling, showing them. A product of today's educational and social standards. But then I sort of clashed with some others online... adults. Seemingly educated ones. And for me it was clear that they lacked any knowledge about or understanding of it all, too! At least from my point of view.
This made me realise that it is not for the many that the truth, whatever that maybe and in whatever guise or quantity it may come, will become apparent.
But on the other hand....
How do I or we explain to them in a short amount of time, what has taken many, many months to learn ourselves?
How can we point them in the right direction, when many of the sources that taught us may have been gone or forgotten long ago?
How do we spark their interest in these matters?
How do we motivate them to go on a search, a quest for themselves, when what they will eventually find probably will scare them half wittless?

I said it often, there are many who do not, can not or will not see it, but now the real meaning of that hit home... Many are beyond help or reason, by choice or simply incapable. Or at least I thought they were.... Maybe many are simply kept in the dark too well and we need to open a door for them, so light comes in and they can go out and explore for themselves or find other doors. All we can do is to show them what we learned or think we have, shake them up a bit and maybe... just maybe someone does receive a wake up call. It probably will mostly fall on deaf ears and those who own those ears.... well.........
But there are those who will listen if we are willing to show them and they might not understand at first, but with time and maybe some guiding they just might.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Trägården Jorden or Garden Earth

I recently read "Trägården jorden" by Gunnar Rundgren and this book did make quite an impression.
It deals with subjects like capitalism, where it originates from, how it came to be and how it ended up being what it is today. I read the Swedish version and for me as a non-Swede that was at times hard to follow. The language is not your everyday common Swedish, it is academic at times and a bit dry.
I find it hard to describe, so I copied a piece of text  I found on the author's (?) own blog;
Garden Earth
– from hunter and gatherers to global capitalism and thereafter
There is no land left to settle, the last frontier we have left to civilize is ourselves. (Jewel)

Garden Earth from Hunter and Gatherer to Global Capitalism and Thereafter stands out from the current flow of books on climate change, the financial crisis, globalization, the food and agriculture crisis or peak-oil. It avoids the trap of using just one lens to make sense of the world. Instead, it looks at the present day problems from a historical, social, economic and ecological perspective.
Humankind has colonized most parts of the globe and its ecological footprint is already far too big. The era of colonization, driven by profit-seeking and fossil fuel, is over. The capitalist economy and its associated values were both results and drivers of this restless conquest. Now it shows diminishing returns and we need new ideas and new means to continue human progress. Garden Earth provides that.
In Sweden, Garden Earth (Trädgården Jorden) was published by Gidlunds April 2010. The book has got good reviews and Gunnar has been invited to present his book at universities and various public fora. It has also got distribution support for “excellent and high-quality literature” from the Swedish Council of Culture, which means that the book was freely distributed to 300 public libraries. The book is also published in Japan by Dayosha.

The English version is now available. It is an extensive re-work of the Swedish version. The analysis is sharper, the narrative clearer. Examples have been adapted to an international audience. The last part, pointing to the future, has been expanded.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interested in and caring for our world, the economical, environmental and political issues we face today. We need to find solutions and we needed to find them yesterday...
Where have we come from, where are we today and above all.... where are we going to??

Gunnar Rundgren;

There are also blogs on this matter, both in Swedish and in English.
Garden Earth Blog -
Trägården Jorden Blog -

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

promises of spring

Even if it is only the first half of february and by any accounts a winter month, it feels as if Jack Frost is already loosening his grip of his icy fingers. We had a balmy +6C today, quite some sunshine, even if it often was veiled behind thin clouds. The birds were singing, the snow melting and the first official warnings about deteriorating icequality are out.
Spring is already tiptoeing nearer, but I fear Jack will not go without a fight. A change of wind and his bite will sting again and that might easily last for a few more weeks. But for now we are enjoying the first promises of the oncoming season. And we could do that with a visitor I have never seen before and certainly one that is not usual in these parts at all; a steglits or European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis).
The first picture I took in the morning, the second one later in the afternoon. A marvelous looking bird, very colourful....

One of the most notable changes was in the air; the singing of the birds. If there is a herald of coming spring, then it most be the song of the talgoxe or great tit; parus major song.

We also found moving flies, meltwater in the streams and creeks and open water at the edges of the lake. Plus there was another, more subtle change in the air. It was the smell. Not so much the sweet scent of spring, but the absence of the smell of frost and cold, despite the fact that the wind still chills you and we most certainly still have frost at night. As soon as the sun goes down the temperatures fall, but the smell of it is gone...

And as the sun went down it gave a great encore...

The house of the rising sun.

The following pictures were taken within a 2 minute interval, around 08:35 SNT (Standard Nyberget Time).
No fancy, pancy equipment. Just your run-of-the-mill standard dumbshit cellphone.


I think it is amazing to actually see the sun move, see the light intensify and feel it on your face and in your eyes. Yes, you can actually feel the light touching your skin. It is almost like a physical touch...  And it is a great way to actually stop what you're doing and enjoy the moment.
I noticed this phenomenon yesterday morning, as I stood behind the window and just watched...
The sun used to rise to the right of the pinetree on the shortest day of the year, which is less then 2 months ago. Our days lengthen by 30-35 minutes a week.
The day promises be be a good one, weatherwise. High temperatures, about +6, and sunny. That means a lot of thaw....

As you might notice, I have quite a lot of time on my hands. Body's on the mend and activities have almost come to a complete halt. And how is it possible that windows get dirty during wintermonths???

Sunday, February 8, 2015


a 30kg lapdog...
I actually had alternative titles for this post, but this one really fits.... Because we are housebound these days...
For some reason the entire family is a tad sluggish, tired.... No one is very active or goes out a lot. We do what we have to do, but not much more. Especially this weekend where both the mrs. and I had a bit of trouble healthwise. Nothing serious, just a cold. Just enough to make you feel even more heavy, pithless and tired. I guess we're all a bit winter-tired and are longing for the season to come and also for the season to go. Plus having freezing temperatures and a strong wind, blowing in gales doesn't make for comfortable circumstances when out either. Yet it was exactly this weather that created a moment I will cherish for a good while.
My son and I were out walking the dog saturday night and it was cold and the wind was blowing. And for some reason I mentioned to him that 70 years ago there were 2 armies fighting one another mercilessly in even worse conditions; -30C or colder and snow storms. I wondered out loud how on earth they did that and how the heck they even survived! After that the conversation developed and we looked at the stars, talked about astrology and through that started philosophizing about other universes, parallel dimensions, the afterlife and the spark of life itself... Before we knew it we stood in front of our house again and then he said to me that this was a great talk and that he really had enjoyed philosophising with me about this all....

One of the alternative titles would have been "Colours of winter", because the ever changing circumstances create the most interesting and beautiful color patterns. Who said winter has to be white or boring grey??
The weatherforecast for the next 14 days predict serious thaw during the days, slight frost during the nights, so these might as well be the last real winterpictures of the season... Enjoy them while they last, I'd say!

The following images are made by my wife, using nothing but my cellphone.

I was renamed to mr.Tumnus in the righthand image.... and I actually like that! Love the movie and really like the character...

These are mine...

We did have a full moon last week and while the moon was waning, we had some clear nights, while the warmer air moved into our area. The surface of the lakes still trap the cold air and when the two meet they create the most spectacular, fairytale-like, magical or creepy atmospheres. The moon lit those fogs and the snow reflected the light... The air was still and yet the fog moved... slowly... In the distance a fox called.... Owww how we do not like not having a decent camera!!! But maybe not doing so makes us appreciate the actual moment more.

A great tit having a drink of meltwater on an icicle.
The moment after I took the picture it broke off...
Despite the fact that it only is the beginning of february and there's still frost and snow a plenty, there are also the very first, very faint signs of things to come. The birds have begun to become lively. We can heard them quite well, even while we are inside. They chatter and call all day long, if the sun is out. And as soon as it does, the temperature goes up. We have had a warm day yesterday and a little less today, where the thermometer rose well over 0 degrees in the sun and water started to flow.... Like I said, for the next week or 2 there will be more of that. Temperatures will rise even more during the day, but remain freezing at night. So that'll be fun....
Well, we actually are outside at least 3-4 times each day and the changes make for some spectacular displays. The snow comes cascading down from the trees, but since it is still loose it creates clouds of sparkles in the sun. We called it fairydust....
We did receive a bit of sunshine and it felt so good to soak that up as well, immediately boosting our energy levels a bit. But the days of sunshine are sporadic and the boostmoments are shortlived.

Birds are gathering in larger numbers these days and we regularly have flocks several dozens large in the trees around the house. They are quite a sight and the racket they make is substantial, but in this time of year it is highly enjoyable as well.

So we sit at home a lot.... read a lot.... watch the snow melt....and fall, watch how the days are getting longer and longer, how the sun has very noticeable changed its position in the sky and how it gains strength with each passing day... or goof around....

Do not expect any words of wisdom here!
I actually do not wear glasses.... yet.
These are my daughter's.

The need to learn and teach...

Through the blog of Ben Hewitt, who has his own mostly self sufficient farm, who is a writer and a strong advocate for unschooling, I came across a blog of a teacher here in Scandinavia, who agrees or even takes the whole unschooling-principle one step further. It is the blog of  a woman called Anna and it is called Teachers journey to life.
I started reading it and I was stricken in awe... mainly because I recognised and understood a great deal of it, simply by remembering my own school going and growing up-days and by looking at my own kids now... I knew there is something fundamentally wrong with our educational systems these days... Turns out there seems to be very little that is right, actually.
I strongly urge you to read it if you are in anyway connected to this system, either by having participation kids or by participating yourself.. Even if you're not, go read!!
Now I do not agree with everything she says 100%, but I really do feel she knows what she is talking about... really. And I must admit that I myself was quite sceptical about this whole unschooling-idea at first, when I started reading Ben's blog.... But I also must admit that I have begun to change my mind more and more, the more I read about it and started thinking about it.
Why is this relevant for this blog? Very simple. Our kids are our future and the future for our world. They are the foundations for what is to come, for the change that absolutely needs to be made, so that future generations may inherit a place, where they still can be woods(wo)men, where they can be homesteaders and self sufficient farmers, should they choose to be. Where they can live in harmony and respect with what our planet has to offer them.
We need to teach them the truly right ways and by doing so learn them ourselves. Learning and teaching v.v.

I asked and got permission to copy the article I read first, but I can also strongly recommend Domesticating the natural child.

The article I want to share is called radical unschooling education outside the box;

”Rules in the absence of principle are often found to be irrelevant by children. Principles lived fully make rules unnecessary.” —Karen Tucker
We are facing a time in history where breaking with the conventions of yesteryear is not only inevitable but in fact a necessity. Radical unschooling represents such a break with conventional thoughts, as it challenges everything we thought we knew about education and parenting.
Out with the old. In with the New.
The realization that we exist in an Orwellian system of control is slowly but surely making its way from the fringes of society to its mainstream arenas. The walls of segregation are thinning and the veil of wool that we have pulled over our eyes is slowly but surely starting to unravel.
We realized long ago that the revolution would not be televised. The time of paramilitary overthrows of totalitarian regimes is over. The grand idea of a global revolution has become archaic in a world where the powers of a system that should not be, has wormed itself into every fiber of our existence and has engulfed the world in a paralyzing toxic haze.
One by one, we are starting to realize, each in our own way, that to subvert the subjugating mechanisms of this system, we must to become creative, and as the Icelandic activist and member of the Pirate Party Birgitta Jónsdottir puts it: find ways to hack the system from within.
All over the world, people are finding ways to subvert the system of control, from guerilla gardening to co-op farming and alternative media outlets. This is done, not through vehemently fighting against the system and demanding that it change, but through understanding that, as corporate whistleblower Richard Grove puts it: ”The system wasn’t broken, it was built this way.”
We must assist the system to collapse – and we do that through immersing ourselves into the system, through changing it from within.
Hacking the System from Within
The iron claw of the system reaches into even our most private and intimate spaces, but instead of looking upon that with apathy and trepidation, we can use this as an opportunity to start hacking the system virtually anywhere, in any place, in any area of our lives – and we can do that as individuals without necessarily having the support of large communities, vast financial resources or intricate knowledge about how to take down the overlords of the military-industrial complex.
Each one of us has skills and abilities or unique insights into sustainable solutions that can be used to defuse the firewalls of the system, from independent journalists that tirelessly work towards exposing the cognitive disinformation oozing from the mainstream media to high-school kids inventing affordable 3-D printers in their bedroom.
We can hack the system in our personal lives through recognizing the inner mechanisms installed through predictive programming, where our minds too are subject to the system of control, for example through the alluring promise of happiness and fulfillment offered to us by the advertisement industry. Once we understand the mechanisms and see them for what they are, once we admit to ourselves that we too fell for the magic trick, we can begin the process of restoring (or for the first time creating), our sanity.
We can hack the system in our relationships with other people, through agreeing upon principled ways of living, where we see that which is best for everyone, (including children and animals) as being of equal importance, thereby disrupting the patriarchal, authoritarian and speciesist narratives that for so long have governed and restricted our lives and our ability to co-exist peacefully with one another on this planet.
Education and upbringing is a hallmark example of the extent to which the system of control has saturated our lives, bodies and minds. We do not realize is how extensively our way of seeing the world and more importantly; how we see ourselves in it, is a direct result of our upbringing and education. As Ivan Illich, the author of “Deschooling Society” puts it: “School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is.”
One of the most prominent examples of how it is possible to hack – and thereby take directive action to reprogram, the system in our day-to-day lives is through radical unschooling.
Radical Unschooling Paves the Way for a New Humanity
Unschooling is an educational philosophy, but even more than that, it is a form of direct political activism that aims at empowering the future generations through a total paradigm change – and it is all happening inside the home.
Educator John Holt coined the term ‘unschooling’ in the 1970’s. Holt believed that children did not need to punished or threatened into learning, that each child had a natural capacity and ability to learn. Unlike traditional homeschooling that aims at bringing the traditional school classroom and curriculum into the home, unschooling takes the approach of ‘learning through living’ where the child has no textbooks, no tests and no curriculum to follow, but instead can follow its own interests and passions, with the guidance and support of a parent.
Common – and for most provocative – examples of how different unschooling is from traditional schooling includes: no fixed bedtimes for children, no restrictions on food and no restrictions on media consumption. Unschooled children wake up and go to bed on their own accord. They have no chores, no homework, no textbooks to read and they learn in the way that is most comfortable and interesting to them. As such an unschooled child might spend weeks or months on end playing Minecraft or building with Legos, all supported and facilitated by their parents. Unschooled children are also not expected to learn how to read, write or learn math according to any specific time-frame or method and are often self-taught at that.
Radical unschooling takes unschooling a step further as it rejects any notion between educational and non-educational spaces. As protagonist Sandra Dodd says: “everything leads to everything.”[i] Radical unschooling is further more an approach to parenting and education where equality and respect become practical and tangible principles that can be transferred into the participants daily lives. The parent is no longer an authoritarian figure who’s role it is to modify behavior through punishment, but a partner and a facilitator who makes it possible for the child to explore and develop their unique natural learning abilities. Education is no longer about the child preparing itself to be functional in a dysfunctional society but about exploring life in a natural and expansive way. Radical unschooling thereby becomes not only a way to transform the notion of what a family is or how education happens but can even be utilized as a tool for self-transformation of who we are as parents and human beings in our relationships with one another.
By showing that a child that learns from home (and life in general) in its own pace without any restrictions, is just as equipped to step into society, perhaps even more so, than a traditionally schooled child, radical unschooling parents are challenging the very foundation of our education systems. It can however only work if the parent dares to step out of their preconditioned ideas about life and as such become a catalyst for change.
Radical unschooling provocatively questions the very foundation of our education systems and playfully shows us how it is possible to not only succeed by stepping out of the schooling industry, but also how tremendously limited we have become because of it. As John Holt says: “Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.”
Deschooling Detox
A specific element of radical unschooling thus has to do with a detoxification period that parents as well as child who have been in the school system, have to go through called ‘deschooling’. One of the key aspects of deschooling is that especially the parents have to go through a process of deconstructing and letting go of preconditioned fears and beliefs programmed into them through their own school years. This could for example be the parent thinking that “a child needs boundaries and routines” or that “punishment teaches the child that there are consequences in life.” (Author Charles Eisenstein has long been a protagonist for the process of deschooling and regularly hosts seminars on the subject. [ii] In his seminars he encourages participants to investigate the effects that schooling has had on them.)
Another aspect of the deschooling process is a period of ‘binging’ on things and activities that previously would have been seen as ‘sinful’ such as gorging on candy, computer-games, movies or staying up very late. According to many unschoolers this is a natural part of the process that will slowly but surely even itself out, where the child and adult will become more inclined to making decisions that are best for them as they get in contact with their authentic selves beyond the limitations of rules and restrictions.
Dangers of unschooling
Unschooling is often criticized as leaving children unprepared for stepping into society. Those critical of the philosophy fear that unschooled children are left unsupervised and unsocialized and that they will have trouble integrating in society, as they grow older. According to a survey[iii] done by professor Peter Grey Ph.D at Boston university for Psychology Today, unschooled children do not only go onto higher education such as college, but tends to do remarkably better than their traditionally schooled peers.
Unschoolers have claimed that one of the reasons why unschooled children do well in college and university is because they have been self-motivated to learn their entire life. Often they have discovered a passion for a specific area already in their early teens, so when they start college they are self-driven and purposefully directing their education. Prominent unschooled people who have gone on to being successful in the system includes filmmaker Astra Taylor, astronomer Lisa Harvey-Smith and professor of law at Duke university, Jedediah Purdy.
So perhaps the greatest danger of unschooling is how it questions everything we thought we knew about education and shows us that the traditional school system is not only failing at its basic task of educating the young, but that it was never meant to in the first place.
The greatest anarchistic experiment of our time?
Radical unschooling might very well be one of the greatest anarchistic and open source experiments of our time. As Sandra Dodd says: ”I never knew how much damage school did, until I saw someone who hadn’t been”. It begs the pertinent question of what the world would look like if all children were supported to harness and explore their unique natural learning abilities? Radical unschooling might very well be a significant key to the transformation of the world system, exactly as it will be significant to transform the way we live with the earth, the way we conduct business, how we work together or the way we view and speak about gender. No stone can be left unturned when it comes to subverting the subjugating mechanisms that has become our accepted ways of co-existing.
Each area of our lives that we dare to look upon with brutal self-honesty and see for what it truly is, through the veil of conformity, and thus take responsibility for changing, will be a significant and imperative key to rewrite the codes that govern our lives. It will not happen overnight and it will not be a global revolution where the whole world will joyously join together in some grand awakening. Instead it will happen one individual at a time, on a one-on-one level, from within the very depths of the system, in the miniscule seemingly insignificant everyday moments of our lives.
Radical unschooling shows us how each of us can take the process of changing the world into our own hands by starting with ourselves. Radical unschooling is an example of the transformation that our societies (and minds) has to go through, for us to upcycle the toxic waste of the past and turn it into something of substantial and lasting value – not just for us, but for generations to come.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Something's going on...

This is a strange time....

The anxiety I feel/felt has greatly lessened, the edginess too. Deep down I feel that something is building. A feeling, a premonition.... and I just can't shake it off.
Something is going on.
Something is about to happen.
There are signs everywhere. Small hints, flashes, suddenly very notable things or happenings and the deja vu's are increasing and their intensity is increasing too...
And the general feeling they leave isn't a bad one, either... These things are in my gut and on my mind, yet I fear them not. I feel like I am tapping new sources, seeing new ways, finding new perspectives or even beliefs... Yet I somehow always knew the latter has always been there.

But on the other hand... on a bigger scale... I have similar feelings albeit with a slightly darker outcome.
The time of chance has come. It has already begun!
Everyday the lies and deceit of authorities, both official and corporate, grow ever bigger and more grotesk.
Everyday people wake up, act and resist more.....
Everyday "the word" gets spread a little bit more...
And everyday the oppression by the powers that be is being increased by new laws and even more lies and deceit. Their powers wane... Their actions become increasingly arrogant... brutal.... desperate....violent.
Whatever it is... The balance is shifting and for this too the signs are everywhere. If one is willing to look and see... And here's where I see more dark clouds gathering. The rift within society is increasing too. People are becoming more and more polarised. Rich vs. poor, left vs. right, them vs. us, treehuggers vs. treecutters and lately I feel we can add new groups to the conflictline; those that see and those that can not or will not see.
Yet it can not be halted... Things have been set in motion. The wheels are turning... unstoppable.
We as a whole, as a society, as a species... have to adapt... or perish.

Be all that as it may, some other changes will be upon us soon. One of them will be the arrival of spring and with it will come not only a change in nature, but also in the nature of this blog. I will stop pretending to be something I am not. I am not a woodsman, no matter how hard I try. I am a gardener, maybe even a small farmer, too. Who knows. Don't get me wrong. I love the woods and I need to be near them to live and thrive, but I do not need to spend most of my time there. Not that I did anyway....
Is it too early to be thinking about that? Guess not... Gardening is looking and planning ahead. Patience, direct contact with the soil we all come from. Looking back through this blog I can noit help but feel that this woodsman-thing was and still is a journey of some sort. Initially it was to get away from it all. I needed it to break free, let go, to come here and refind myself... although like everybody else the myself-part is constantly changing as well.

And if it is anything to go by, we had an unexpected guest in the garden the day before yesterday; a male blackbird! These are semi-migratory birds around here. Moving to the south of the country during winter. Never saw one during winter in these parts.
Yesterday we had another bird here I haven't seen earlier this winter, a single vinterhämpling or twite (Carduelis flavirostris). And today we heard an owl hoot for the first time this winter! It was in the middle of the day and its calls echoed over the lake. We also witnessed how a couple of större hackspet or great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) sat very close to each other with maybe a handwidth space in between. One of them sat in the top of a large spruce, the other joined him/her a little lower, where after the first one climbed down and positioned itself next to the other. And there they remained... for a good while.

But for now winter still has a firm grip on us and that might easily last for another 4-6 weeks. And those will be long weeks, as they are every year, but somehow I think that even the perception of those weeks has changed.

And what better way than to spend the remaining time before bedtime on a cold winter's evening than to sit in front of the fireplace, book in hand, blanket around you and a dog warming you back...

Even the kids and the dog are changing. The first develop and grow at such an amazing (and frustrating) pace...
And the latter is adopting fast to our family. He really has become one of us already....

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Having animals creates opportunities....

February has come and brought with it a ton of snow! I can not remember ever having seen so much snow. In places it is 50-60cm deep, well above my knee.
Having a dog that needs to go out makes having fun in the snow a lot easier.... Especially if you have a dog that just loves snow... like ours. So we do spend some time outside..... and not just playing with Rex. We also bring out toys.... like sleds, shovels, skis and the like.
The kids build snowforts in the heaps of snow, left by the snowploughs... Only to start digging again after the next day's plowing. I wanted to try the snowshoes some more and of course my antique skis. That did not work out too well with one pair. After fiddling about for an hour I had them adjusted to fit my boots and as I was putting on the skis.... the leather straps just snapped. Rotten..... Now I need to completely redo the straps and exchange them all.... Oh well... I can always try them next winter... *sigh*.
I have two more pairs of skis I need to fix, but maybe I can combine the parts of those to get one operational pair out of them.

And today, while walking the dog, I had the bright idea to try a new path, leading up to the viewpoint I showed previously. That turned out to be quite a challenge; 60cm of next to untouched snow, steep uphill going through the forest. So our dogwalkinground turned into a multi-hour-winter-forest-hike. So yes... even more snowy winterpictures....

I did learn a thing or two. One is to bring snowshoes and gaiters if you are going in to the woods under these circumstances. The snow clung to our lower legs and often reached over our knees. This melts and causes the leg muscles to cool very fast and strong. I experiences mild cramps in them.
Another one is to bring a backpack with warm drinks, some snacks and at least some form of protection against the elements in case of an emergency. A hidden branch or hole can cause crippling injuries at any time. Three; bring a brush. Snow clinging to clothes and fur melts and becomes ice. Not comfortable and it compromises insulation.

A carthedral of white.... powerfull, silent


Yup, that deep... or deeper!

We came across some obstacles on the path. In this case a pinetree, fallen doan and covered with snow.

The goal; the viewpoint