This simplifying is making me thirsty

Sky over tree over Nashville, October morning, 2012

Whew! And I thought plastic bags were an issue. What did I know? Not enough. Been over a year since I posted and it seems like simplifying gets complicated before it gets simple. At times I’ve felt like I wanted to give it all away except for what was needed for basic daily needs, and walk away. You know, instead of hauling stuff out and giving it away, you haul out what you want to keep and have someone come along and take the rest away. Didn’t realize how attached I was to stuff. Not attached for any any particular reason. More like stuck instead of attached. I will not give up!

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My Review of Byer Easy Cot

Originally submitted at REI

The Byer Easy cot sets up in under a minute for convenient use around camp and at home.

Easy it is

By Jimmy Mc from Nashville, TN on 7/31/2011
5out of 5

Pros: Easy to set up, Easy to pack

Best Uses: Spare bed, Campgrounds, Road Trips

Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

Was this a gift?: No

This is a nice, long cot. I’m 6’2″ and weigh 225# and it suits me fine. I wanted a spare bed I could use for sleeping in a cooler part of the house when the whether gets so hot – without having to push the AC to overdrive. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to set up. It literally just unfolds.
At first I was concerned that the only directions were a sort of pictograph on the box, but as it turns out it was that easy. Took about 30 seconds to remove it from the box and another 30 seconds or so to unfold it. I’ve only slept on it two nights but so far no complaints. Sagging so far is minimal, especially considering my dimensions. If I were going to use it for extended periods I’d probably want some kind of covering or padding for the cot as the fabric – while sturdy – might be a little rough over time.
The construction appears to be fairly rugged, including the stitching on the stress points where the fabric contacts the frame. I’ll probably start partially collapsing it each day just to reduce some of the stress on the stitching.
To folks that think it’s bulky, well, not for what it is. If you want a cot you can backpack this isn’t designed for that, though with folded dimensions of about 6″x6″x33″ and weighing about 20+ pounds it’s pretty easy to toss into the back seat of the car or stash in a closet.
It wasn’t available in my local REI for me to try or I would have bought it sooner had I known how pleased I would be.
Note about set-up: If your upper body agility, or your back, is a concern, try unfolding it upside down, then turning it over.


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Of Simple Shacks & Autumn Afternoons

Recently I received my copy of Humble Homes, Simple Shacks by Derek “Deek” Diedricksen. His blog, Relaxshax (link appears in my blogroll) is one of my favorites. The book itself is a piece of work. Derek has done all of the work himself, including assembling the book and handling the orders. What I found especially interesting was how much I enjoyed the process of placing the request for the book and then waiting for its arrival.
I elected to go simply mail-order and I sent my check with a request for a copy of the book and then waited for its arrival. I could have saved some time had I done the on-line route but given the nature of this blog – and Derek’s book – I elected to take the simpler, even if slower, route. I was not disappointed.
I was reminded of how much fun it is to anticipate an event. I knew it would take a number of days for the check to reach him, to clear the bank, then a few more for the book to arrive to me. I found myself looking forward to the arrival of the mail each day. And when I saw the package I felt a bit rejuvenated. It was a perfect October afternoon and I sat outside and savored simply thumbing through the pages. (There’s too much content on each page – both artistically and textually – to do otherwise in one sitting.) The book itself looks and reads like a graphic novel, for lack of a better term. It’s both entertaining, enlightening and even inspiring.
Thanks Derek. Keep up the good work.

My book is here; my book is here!

Lotta cool content . . .

Yours truly, considering the possibilities.

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Simplifying Isn’t So Simple

Certainly isn’t as simple as I expected. I’ll have more to say on that another time. Today I simply want to vent my frustration with my weak progress in my ongoing battle of the plastic bags.
The photograph shows what I’ve accumulated just since my last trip to the so-called bag recycling center. Each of those four bags is stuffed with plastic bags. In total there must be a couple of hundred plastic bags – in about two months. I’m appalled at my own weak resolve.
When I go to the store I seem to forget to take my reusable bags. Even then, when I grudgingly accept plastic I end up with more bags than needed. The milk ends up in its own bag. The bread ends up in its own bag. Even when I ask that everything go in one bag I end up with more because they double-bag it unless I intervene.
Part of my new strategy, along with remembering to take my own bag(s), is to bag my purchases myself or insist on no bag if it’s a few items I can manage to carry to the car bagless.

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Say ‘No’ To Plastic Bags

I’ve  had  it with plastic bags. They are everywhere. Go to the grocery, they’re there. Go to the pharmacy, they’re there.

I went to buy some rice cakes. I’ve not mastered rice cake making, so I’m not “fully realized”! I just wanted some rice cakes. But they came 16 to a (plastic) bag. And my purchase was placed inside another plastic bag.

I let this happen, but I can’t take this much longer. When I got home I found that each plastic bag contained two separate bags. So I ended up with 7 bags. Why do I need these bags? Where do they go when I take them to be “recycled”?

I’m beginning to think that the whole concept of recycling allows us to continue our habit of taking a piece of crap and turning it into another piece of crap. I mean, what happens to a plastic bag when you drop it in the “recycle” bin at the market? And why do we need all this packaging in the first place? Why can’t you go to the market and say, “Hey there Tom, could I get a pound of coffee? Just put it in here. And, ah, maybe five pounds of corn meal . . . here, you can put it in this sack; also, could I get some of that brew? Here’s a jug.”

Why can’t we do that?

I’m beginning to think that relying on recycling just allows us to continue bad habits. “What’s wrong if I buy all this stuff and end up with a cubic yard of packaging? I recycle! I’m not so bad! What about all those other bad people who don’t recycle? Let’s get ’em!”

Just say ‘no’ to plastic bags. In fact, just say ‘no’ to any bag of any kind. Next time I go to the market, I’m gonna say, “No bags, here, (holds out arms) just load me up.”

I was tempted to say ‘a curse on packaging’ but I  think packaging is a curse.

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Simple And Nutritious

And pretty darn tasty, too. I’m talking about cocoa, not the mix but the raw cocoa powder. (Make sure the container says 100% cocoa.)

It’s still hot where I am but you can enjoy this beverage cold or hot. It’s real simple. You warm up a bit of water – you’ll want to do this otherwise the powder tends to float around and not blend – then add and stir the cocoa in until it starts to thicken just a little. You don’t want it very thick because it’s going to thicken some in the ‘fridg anyhow. Next, a healthy dash – I dash several times – of cinnamon.

This next item may sound odd but you owe it to yourself to try it at least: a few dashes of good cayenne pepper sauce like Tobasco or Trappey’s – nothing with any kind of special flavor. You can use plain cayenne pepper if you want I suppose but I always have several pepper sauces around anyway.

Now you want to taste it. You might need to add a little more of the ingredients to taste. The recipe on the side of the container for hot cocoa will probably call for some salt. I don’t think you really need that.

Now you should have a syrup of sorts that is really high in potassium and no sugar. I mix mine in vanilla soy milk, hot or cold, and have found it much better – and cheaper and nutritious – than any mix. And if you leave out the sugar it will have next to no calories. If you fancy a sweeter mix there are natural sweeteners available, like Stevia, though I’ve never tried it.  (Honey does not a good sweetener make for cocoa – but that’s just me. Plus it’s a bit dicey to get it to blend.) And you can get used to drinking cocoa that has not been sweetened.

Remember to keep the syrup in the ‘fridg, otherwise it will go bad.

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Simply Elegant

Yesterday afternoon while walking up my sidewalk I saw this beautiful creature. I thought it was a butterfly of some kind. Turned out to be a Luna Moth, I learned with the help of Stephen Stedman at Tennessee Tech. As it happens, seeing them during the day is pretty rare and, while once common, they are endangered in some areas. This one was at the end of its life-cycle. I learned that the adults do not eat after they mature. In fact, they don’t even have mouths. They die within about a week after mating. After taking this picture I sat on the ground near it for some time, a bit astounded at its elegance. I was reluctant to touch it even, it being so delicate. Having never seen one I had no idea they were so lovely, nor so large, the wing-span on this one measuring just under five inches.

Actias luna
Luna Moth (Actias luna)
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