James MacKenzie

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since May 03, 2021
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Recent posts by James MacKenzie


I am sorry you are struggling wit this however take comfort in the fact that you are facing it head-on and at the same time admitting that you don't have all the answers.

REGARDLESS of the outcome, continue to be honest and raw about your situation, your feelings and continue to rehearse the issues - and talk to your wife. there is no guarantee that your relationship will survive, there is no guarantee of anything in life.. yet you have to keep going and doing and searching - especially with the personality you describe yourself as having - leading to problems sandwiched between:

"the future is unwritten" - Joe Strummer
"the unexamined life is not worth living" - Aristotle

Amy gives you some fantastic advice about the existential angst that is typical in your situation and the pitfalls that accompany that angst - this quote especially resonated with me:

"I also felt I needed to make up for past behavior"

don't go down that route in particular - i've been through it too - daily i see the horrors we inflict on our only home and the creatures that share it with us - only for unnecessary comfort, profit and greed >> there is a perpetual nausea that accompanies this realization and i will be frank - it never goes away, you have to manage it.. and you CAN mitigate it be being as self-reliant as you can, adopting a permaculture oriented lifestyle, buying use whenever you can, ditching cosmetics... not attending sporting events etc. ( full disclosure - i am an extremist in my view, i would abolish all professional and international sport tomorrow - the waste and environmental impact is appalling if you really think about it)

and i am no saint - it is bit by bit you change and that will have to do - keep going forward.. stick with your own plan - from what i can read from your brutal honesty, yes you could move from the current physical space, but you will not easily move away from yourself - and that never works out...

which brings us to the relationship part you can compromise but you have to be careful what you compromise about and be sure it is done honestly, Amy, Arthur and Skandi all offer you TERRIFIC insight into relationship success - reread what they have to say... their advice is the best you could have that will help you make your relationship successful..

mine failed -

i am still "in the woods" growing food, fishing, recycling, planning for solar, learning new skills etc. my partner moved "closer to town" after 9 years in our little shitbox on rough acreage.. she missed having a nice home, decorating, dressing up an going out with people

there was friction about what we were doing, to what extent we were "all-in", how that saving the planet wasn't our job... etc. yes, i was uncompromising at the end, so was she ....

here is the kicker..

moving from a big city , quitting my really good job and moving to the woods on her pension...was HER idea! and there was no compromise on that ... she went "all-on" on the prepping movement after 2008 being instrumental in the early organizations and forums etc. . we got a bugout location on her home island of cape breton and after an issue with neighbours in town we moved hastily to a rather remote location to begin anew and live on  a homestead, self sufficient etc.  i was reluctant but had to go along - she was going anyway so i quit my job, friends family etc. and moved to nowhere without the skills required... many years of mayhem and struggle ensued... gradually i learned what was required, gradually i worked long hours on all kinds of stuff , i got work closer to the homestead.. i REALLY gave it a shot to survive out here where she "loved the quiet" and "just wanted to be left alone"

well that was then and this is now and i gravitated towards the lifestyle and she away from it - she is in a big house by herself in a small village - LOTS of friend and neighbors, she has reconnected with old military friends online.. i help her around her place with chores when i can and get supplies etc.... i am, like all of us, a flawed individual - i cannot make up for past mistakes, but i CAN refrain from repeating them, do my best to say no to resentment and regret, and hope the best for her

after a destructive unravelling 2 years ago, i had the worst winter of my life... no real work, paying the same bills, lonely, desolate etc. sometimes in the dark, in a snowstorm with no power, everything rattling..

that spring i decided to garden anyway, by myself... it was bittersweet but i stubbornly began again anyway... to my surprise, it invigorated me beyond my expectations and helped the healing process... i spent many many many nights sorting through all kinds of rats nests in my head - i am fortunate - i survived intact and there is no looking back for me

i go to the "big city" (50, 000 people) every 2-3 weeks... the sights and sounds are appalling (i particularity resent being constantly bombarded with advertising) - everyone lives so close together etc. etc... i have made peace with it - this is who i am and the things that i hold to be true and i don't waver on them, but i can't really expect others to change either just because either - that part you have to let go. " you can lead a horse to water......"

BUT my story is to demonstrate that people do change anyway - you just can't CONTOL that part and you don't know what will happen, despite all your "prepping"... my god we has so much food stocked waiting for TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) to happen as the system collapsed... well it didn't and the food went stale, and freezer burnt, and we couldn't store all the canning jars, and we planted too much... etc. etc. etc. stocking up on ammo for crying out loud.. in canada !!??!!

well - bailouts and such and no meltdown... f250s are all the rage in the burbs now... travel to exotic locations is the shit ... i don't get it

and covid was supposed to be a rallying cry for humanity along with the climate change.. still, we are buying just as much shit in packaging... probably more with "covid crafts" - watch "nomadland" - the amazon factories are terrifying.. and that was then!!

your angst is real, your angst for her is real, your angst for the planet is real, your goals are real... the dangers we ALL face are real.. and if it seems to you that people aren't listening, well, they aren't...

do what you can but don't lose yourself either. this may sound like i am not in the camp of "making it work" believe me, i tried, often flawed mind you, but i tried.. so did she, in spades...and that was accompanied by much self destructive behavior all around..

our personalities were probably not compatible long term, but then again, like i have said, people also change and no matter how much you plan for it, you cannot control the outcome..

"be prepared" is as much a mental/emotional/spiritual mantra as it is physical one  - i wish you the very best of luck and fortune - peace!

(p.s. - sorry for the rambling - i sat down to this with my morning coffee and all kinds of bells went off ;-)

3 weeks ago
i agree wholeheartedly with the others -  make your own salve if you can... especially as you mention minor scrapes and burns etc.. the recipe links are listed above me
i always wash a cut scrape immediately under cold water and then douse the wound with Apple Cider Vinegar .. bandage if required.. DO make sure the wound is clean - especially with the comfrey (as heather pointed out)

my salve is composed of what i can pick - easy to source ( i get the beeswax from a local beekeeper) >> i follow heather sharpe's method exactly   - it is also surprisingly easy to make

olive oil
comfrey (1/2)
plantain (1/4)
heal-all (Prunella vulgaris) (1/4)

i make a fair bit, give some to family and friends.. jars handy around the house

i put it on EVERYTHING.. cuts, scrapes, stings, bites, burns, sunburn, contact dermatitis when it flares up... it doubles as a moisturizer too - great after shaving ;-)

it flat out works and you know what is in it.. you are done - it is the only jar 'o stuff i have..

jay/others - does the calendula work? i grew some for the first time this year - very successful - i would add it to the mix - tnx!

3 weeks ago

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:^^ Excellent comments, James.

Working solo, one tends to adopt a mindful and methodical mindset.  

I would add: instead of a flashlight, I find that a lightweight headlamp hanging loosely around the neck, running on low, provides just enough fill lighting to find and do things safely. Rechargeable batteries of course.

thank Douglas and very true - only recently have i discovered the benefits of headlamps for working - handsfree is a great alternative in many cases and safer!! i only meant have flashlights handy for when you have to "grab a light" - headlamps are a better working alternative..

rechargeable all the way LOL!

4 weeks ago
i am a solo operation so this one resonates with me bigtime - i simply can't get hurt.. i am very careful,, here are some tips.. i am TOTALLY gonna come off like nurse ninny - don't care, like my fingers LOL!

  • eye protection with power tools - covered by scott - face shield just added to shopping list..
  • gloves, gloves gloves! all kinds, everywhere and heavy-duty gauntlets when clearing and dealing with rocks logs etc. be sure to wear them when weeding
  • bigger jobs over 2 days - day one... measure, cut, stack, lay out... day 2 job - this way you don't rush
  • put away your tools as soon as you are done - you won't trip over them later or injure yourself trying to gather them all up when it is late
  • concrete block behind the legs at the bottom of a leaning ladder
  • more trips as opposed to lifting as much as you can
  • reorg your tools etc. in "line of sight" and "near the most likely workspace" groupings so stuff is handy and you don't rush around trying to gather things - a MAJOR source of injury
  • ask yourself honestly if you are up to the task... if the answer is no, postpone.. fatigue injures and even kills
  • fabric tape around slippery handles especially on cutting implements
  • if you live in a winter area, have a pair of boots handy  fitted with major metal crampons ready and use them - ice == falls
  • keep pathways clear, take that extra 2 minutes
  • put one thing down before you deal with another... one-handed seldom works out as planned
  • keep cutting implements sharp, replace box cutter blades often... cut away from yourself at all times
  • check breakers twice before you begin electrical work
  • wear snug footgear with good grip for any real jobs... crocs are great but are NOT work gear
  • wash any and all cuts right away - just stop and take care of it... if you are going back to work, put a layer of duct tape over the band-aid - it is the compression and closed wound that promotes healing, the duct tape addition will def keep the wound covered and clean... redress at day's end
  • flashlights handy everywhere you might need them - charged
  • break heavy jobs into 1 hour chunks - break in between - you WILL be done faster anyway
  • don't force anything - take the time to figure out what is really in the way/stuck and address the problem - even if you have to order a new part.. sipped wrenches, glancing blows and snapping tools are the worst
  • plan ahead, write a list of materials and steps to completion of  a major job beforehand - a day or two maybe, then review it - you will be ready and not get rushed and frustrated which leads to mistakes which can lead to injury

  • hope these help - cheers!
    4 weeks ago
    as everyone has pointed out it is definitely a personal choice/time management thing combined with experience, energy and then THAT intersects with a sense of accomplishment..

    it's complicated..

    BUT as Nancy pointed out it is a nice problem to have ;-)

    when i was a kid i used to enter local x country ski races - my stepdad passed on advice that resonates to this day:

    "train your weaknesses, compete your strengths"

    if i calculate i have time to learn, i will diy at all costs, if i already have the expertise, no problem.. but... i need a new roof, it appears easy enough, but i am mid-50s, live alone and don't own scaffolding... that will be 100% a buy despite what many tell me.." you are so handy it will be simple"... no, not gonna.. will work/save for that one

    Debbie Ann said make lists - she is right... it REALLY helps, i have several too lol!! my point about the roof is you have to be prepared to ironclad about some decisions as well so you don't keep "revisiting" - that eats time and energy in and of itself - be sure to have a "gonna be solved with $$" list as well

    i am a big reduce/reuse/recycle buff as well - if i can restore/repurpose - that adds another dimension that makes something worth doing myself.. making a greenhouse out of old windows has some extra challenges... but i reused those windows!! all my shelves are scraps, found in the garbage etc... i have a nice sized "boneyard".. not pretty, BUT less in the landfill and THAT makes me feel accomplished!

    but then... cordless power tools? the new ones really are better, the old ones are not worth fixing.. corded tools are in many ways the opposite.. etc etc. etc.

    how often do you cook bacon and eggs? do you NEED a cast iron pan..?? what about that stove form scratch??

    the bottom line appears to be - you don't need to "break" the cycle, just manage it to your satisfaction - you have skills - i  do not let them atrophy nor consume you!!


    4 weeks ago
    found this by accident - lol!

    when i lived in ottawa i never had a drivers licence - i commuted by bike year round - i am in IT - federal  contracts - all government buildings have showers - best commuting method hands down.. i need to up my cardio so i am dusting off the bikes and will go striper fishing by bike this summer - need retraining though - yams rusty ;-)

    when it was garbage day in my neighbourhood - i would take my homemade cart and cruise for valuables - you can haul quite a bit with a bike !!

    thanks for the memories and a push to get back on the bike!!

    4 weeks ago
    Debbie Ann:

    happy to have made your day ;-))) i have no doubt that exceeded your expectations - your plan to result is very well thought out!!

    my greenhouses work well for what i wanted them for - i don't use them really say... dec-feb, but come 1st of march the cold weather stuff starts popping (green onions, kale, broccoli in pots and rappini)

    in the summer they cannot be beat for tomatoes and peppers and strawberries spring-fall.. spring is cool and long here - summers even sometimes and it is windy a lot - the greenhouses are indispensable for seedlings.

    but it isn't a year-round thing like Andrew's plan and your solution and mine are more on an individual scale... the you-tube link he posted is a very large commercial hoop house - i have nothing to offer in that regard,,

    i have [posted on a few greenhouse posts so i think i will do a post about what i learned with pics - much like yours.

    take care and stay safe!!
    now i fully understand the problem - my bad

    i also understand why the stuff is as pricey as it is

    you learn something new everyday - lol!
    1 month ago

    Angie Bolingbroke wrote:I’m loving these suggestions. I also like to make canned versions of soups…stop before adding the dairy/alternative dairy. Pressure can and voila! Quick and easy future meals!  

    Angie is bang on !  works for zucchinis too (which we all know can be plentiful LOL!).. i made 2 batches - a GREAT base for winter!!

    stock pot
    2 onions
    zucchinis chopped up
    salt, pepper,
    boil and simmer
    food proc ( i need a new immersion blender
    reheat  ( i need a new immersion blender

    i will boil some cubes of turnips, potatoes and carrots in minimal water for a while ... the starchy water holds the sugars.. then dump in a quart jar and spice... of i will add leftover stir-fry to a jar and instant al kinds o' stuff soup from leftovers

    i was pleasantly surprised by the result - great use for the  larger zucchinis!

    1 month ago
    can you buy canadian organic culinary wild rice there?

    if so buy a bag and try propagating it... it pretty much gets harvested and bagged whole with the hull

    hey, something to try
    1 month ago