I'm really happy with how these turned out. Opinels are a lot of fun to work with--though I did get a cease and desist letter from the company for using their name in Etsy titles...

I'm really happy with how these turned out. Opinels are a lot of fun to work with--though I did get a cease and desist letter from the company for using their name in Etsy titles...

 Panels are up. We've really only had one sunny day since I installed them--this photo is actually pretty indicative. And then a foot of snow .. But hey, they're up and working and helping me cut down on generator use. ... I think in the long-term I will add more. Now understanding how relatively simple it is, I may double the capacity.

Panels are up. We've really only had one sunny day since I installed them--this photo is actually pretty indicative. And then a foot of snow .. But hey, they're up and working and helping me cut down on generator use. ... I think in the long-term I will add more. Now understanding how relatively simple it is, I may double the capacity.

 Adding 3 100 watt solar panels, and a third battery! I'm excited to ditch the majority of my generator use.

Adding 3 100 watt solar panels, and a third battery! I'm excited to ditch the majority of my generator use.


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Review of two 12v light bulbs: Sunthin v. Chichinlighting

I have been spending more time thinking about the cabin's energy use: how to reduce it and how to supply it. The new solar panels are working great, despite not really having a sunny day since I put them up. And the second battery means I have enough energy stored, if the sun doesn't shine for a day or few.

Lighting is one of my major power needs, and so I've installed two 12 volt lighting fixtures wired directly to the battery. Going directly to the battery means no inverter is needed just for light, which is more efficient ... [continues].


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New Hobby: modding Opinel knives

I had a lot of pocket knives growing up, but until recently, I'd never heard of Opinel. It's a very basic French-made knife. They're made to cut salami or to get tossed into the tacklebox, tool kit or kitchen drawer. Someone called it a "picnic knife." The blades are well made, particularly the carbon steel, but they lack any sense of ... style.

Having never worked with wood before, all of this is new to me. I've been reshaping the blades with a dremel, cutting them into shorter and more dramatic lengths. And then bringing down handles, reshaping, staining and sealing. ... [continues]


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Inertia & The Woodpile

This is my third winter in the cabin. And I've gotten better at them each year, learning the necessary little tricks to staying warm off the grid. But one of the biggest "tricks" is simply having enough wood for the stove. And on that, I messed up. ... [continues]


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Issue #1 Now For Sale

It took almost a year to take & Ranch from "Hey, what about a comic book!?" to tearing open boxes of the first issue.  I am really excited to be able to share it with you.

& Ranch is the story of a writer who leaves city-life to reconnect with nature. It is part comic book, part literary and photography journal. It is a story about someone taking a risk in order to change their life.

You can purchase Issue #1 here or on Etsy.  If you are outside of the United States, please order thru Etsy.

 

& Ranch, Issue #1
6.00
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 Click to be taken to & Ranch on Etsy.

Click to be taken to & Ranch on Etsy.


 Ah, winter has returned.

Ah, winter has returned.

 And so has deer season. I've got no quarrel with responsible hunting, but someone took a bad shot at this and it died on my land. ... Every year hunters also leave carcasses by the side of the road, and last year I had to eject some tresspassers... 

And so has deer season. I've got no quarrel with responsible hunting, but someone took a bad shot at this and it died on my land. ... Every year hunters also leave carcasses by the side of the road, and last year I had to eject some tresspassers... 


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The World is Too Big (and getting bigger)

There are a whole bunch of ideas tied up in this one basic sentence, but in and of itself it doesn't seem particularly controversial: Not all growth is good.

I'm not talking mold or cancer or debt, but economic and societal growth. Essentially the proposition that things can continue to get better forever. That the economic output of the United States can continue to grow, the World can continue to grow, while at the same time caring for its citizens.

But that's hogwash. It's nonsense that doesn't survive back-of-envelope math or the smell test, unless you're a fan of rotten eggs. The world's resources are finite.

... [cotinues]


 The cabin sits under a canopy of oak trees, and their leaves right now are glowing.

The cabin sits under a canopy of oak trees, and their leaves right now are glowing.

Hobgoblins & Radio: On Changing Your Mind

I have--so far at least--enjoyed getting older. I think it's mostly due to an increased sense of agency and presence and self-awareness.  Practically speaking: You get to do more fun things. And the toys are better.

One of the little joys I appreciate about the whole thing is being able to change my mind.

I used to hate olives, and now I don't. That's one of those little things that sounds so unimportant but then, I can think back and truly remember hating olives.

I also used to hate pictures of flowers, and I celebrated capitalism. Who the hell was that guy? The ability to change is awesome...  [continues]


 Flour, salt, yeast, water.

Flour, salt, yeast, water.

Baking Bread

And a review of the Coleman stovetop-oven

I used to bake bread often, but then again I used to have an oven.

For a while, that was one of the biggest things "missing" in living off the grid. I experimented with building a brick oven, but never really took to using it. I experimented with flat breads, but it just wasn't the same. And so for the past couple of years I largely stopped baking. ... [continues]


 After sitting in a UPS warehouse for a few days, these finally arrived! .... Max Steel is a private investigator hired to do what seems like a simple job: Follow a cheating husband, and get pictures. But when the philandering target winds up dead, Max finds himself the prime suspect--and time is running out for him to clear his name (or at least throw the police a better theory).

After sitting in a UPS warehouse for a few days, these finally arrived! .... Max Steel is a private investigator hired to do what seems like a simple job: Follow a cheating husband, and get pictures. But when the philandering target winds up dead, Max finds himself the prime suspect--and time is running out for him to clear his name (or at least throw the police a better theory).

Involved -- A Max Steel Mystery
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Making Something Useful

 I've been working on "correspondence rolls"--basically, a little kit for your pencils and postcards and a notebook, for when you're out traveling or people watching. A lot of what I make and sell, I assume it gets read and then discarded. In some ways, it makes me more focused on how it will be received. Will they like it?!?

But with something like this, it has a purpose as well as an aesthetic. I really enjoyed making this. I used a hammer and nail to score the leather and canvas [continues] ...

(... or buy it here.)


This whole trek towards minimalism and tiny home, off-grid-living began years ago when I left D.C. and traveled around the United States. I spent almost a year living out of a van, ultimately reconnecting with the outdoors and realizing I didn't need a whole lot of stuff to actually be happy.

These are some of the photos from that amazing 15,000-mile adventure.