If You Don’t Get What You Want You’re Winning. I Think.

A night of freezing rain has kept the tires parked in the driveway and the cookie jar safely on its shelf in the shop.

And maybe a good thing it is too.

I did a bit of peeking and poking about on eBay and Etsy and discovered the cookie jar of my childhood was made by Bartlett-Collins.

The company started way back in 1914; Bartlett was an Oklahoma oil man, while Collins is cited as being an East Coast glass man. I suppose Bartlett brought the business sense and the cash to the equation, while Colllins was the one that blew the glassware into creation.

They made an assortment of glassware ranging from kitchen lamps to stemware to cookie jars.

All kinds of cookie jars.

I came across an identical jar to the one we had, only in turquoise.


And then I found one in red…


And another in yellow…


You can see where this is heading, right?

To make matters worse, these days homes have cupboards that fit tight to the ceiling. Not ours. We have old-fashioned solid oak cupboards with a generous space between where the top stops and the ceiling starts. The sort of cupboards that would have HGTV bringing in sledge hammers for demo day. OR the sort of vintage cupboards perfectly suited for fitting many, many, vintage cookie jars on display along its top. It could go either way.

With all the money saved by keeping the cupboards, just think of how many cookie jars one could buy!

Ack! What’s happening to me?

This is how I suspect all collecting starts. One small unnecessary item tugs at the heart. A single innocent purchase that serves as the thin edge of the wedge. Before you know it the floodgates are pried open and one morning you stumble out to the kitchen to make coffee and realize cookie jars have taken over your life.

I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not.

I love watching American Pickers on TV, but not just because of the bargains and finds that Mike and Frank pick up along the way. I love watching it for the collectors they meet. It fascinates me why these people collect the things they do and how that one coveted group of items can shape their entire life.

I suspect many start because of a childhood memory, like me with my cookie jar. Or it is an offshoot of a personal profession or hobby. Woodworkers collecting antique hand tools, electricians collecting glass insulators, doctors collecting old medical paraphernalia.

Once it gains a toehold, our hunter gatherer instincts kick in. It becomes less about the item itself and more about the thrill of the hunt. It’s no longer about living in the past, but a reason to get up in the future.

I remember hearing a person telling about how he collected a particular line of lenses and filters for a certain vintage camera. He spent decades stopping at every thrift shop, every antique store, every flea market, slowly adding to his collection. Finally, there was just one lens left and his collection would be complete.

One afternoon he and his wife stopped in at an antique shop, and there it was. The last lens. His wife couldn’t believe her husband’s good luck. She smiled and placed a hand over her heart, as he slowly picked it up off the shelf. She stopped smiling when he just as slowly, just as deliberately, set it back down and left the shop.

They got back in the car in silence. As the car swung onto the highway leaving the shop and the lens in its rear view mirror, she said, “I don’t understand. You’ve been looking for that lens for over 20 years. Why didn’t you buy it?”

It took him a few miles before he could find the words to answer.

“I don’t know why I didn’t buy it. I think I just…I just wanted to want it for a little bit longer,” he finally said.

I think this means you’re probably doing better at life than you might think. if you get everything you want, you might find out what you really wanted was the wanting. If you don’t get everything you want, maybe you’re really winning.

Maybe this means we should all be striving for just one good healthy slice and not the whole pie.

Maybe this explains why we get so much joy from giving and sharing, but get a bit crazy in the head when we get too much.

So does that mean I am leaving the cookie jar on the store shelf?

I don’t know. But maybe.

How Many Plastic Pots and Trays Are Used in the UK Every Year?

According to a 2018 episode of Gardeners World the UK uses half a billion plastic pots and trays per year. Gardening expert and designer Arit Anderson  estimates that if all these trays were spread out over the grounds of the Chelsea Flower Show they would cover it 149 times…per year!

Fortunately the plastic tide is slowly starting to turn with introductions of bioplastics and other alternatives.

Most plant pots are made of post consumer waste. That’s the good news. The bad news is standard black nursery pots are themselves, difficult to recycle. Many depots use a light scanner to sort the plastics but black pots don’t reflect the light back to the machines, making them hard to sort mechanically.

The industry is doing some testing with making lighter colours of pots to offset this problem. There is some concern that the lighter pots will do a poorer job of shielding roots from sunlight, resulting in less healthy plants, but hopefully that won’t be a problem.

You can learn more about all of this by viewing the 2018 Episode 25 of Gardeners World.

Gardeners are connected to the earth by the very passion that defines them. If they demand changes, the industry will have no choice but to listen. We need to continue to come up with viable solutions together.


Eco Villages for the Peaceful Prepper?

Whenever my husband and I start talking retirement and have some downtime we tend to spend it looking at real estate sites. We sit in the living room, each armed with our iPad and we take turns passing them back and forth as we come across a place we like. It’s sort of like House Hunters Digital Style. Or something like that.

Today my husband passed me his iPad with information on an eco village. You buy your own house on common property and are encouraged to have a small garden beside it, as well as a share in the work/harvest of another two acre garden designated to feed the community. There is a common house where everyone can hang out together. Two meals are shared there per week.

“You want us to join a cult?”

“It’s not a cult. It’s an intentional community.”

“Um…so you want us to join a cult?”

“Just read what it says.”

I read.

There were provisions for all kinds of sustainability with an eye to making the footprint of each person as small as possible. I was impressed. Very impressed.  A quick read of the profiles of the current shareholders showed lots of young, ridiculously healthy looking couples with small children. They were the kind that look like they go mountain biking before breakfast, white water rafting in the afternoons and then do some leisurely rock climbing up a mountain face or three before bed.

Folded in there, however, were a couple of happy looking “elders”.

There was even a mention of elders in their vision statement. The elders would provide wisdom, insight and balance to the community.

I am sorry to admit that my initial reaction-right after getting all judgey and dismissing them as a cult-was to snort and roll my eyes.

I have no idea why, but I envisioned a bunch of romantic homesteading wannabes drunk on the idea of saving the planet, who would bolt at their first encounter with quack grass. I think I might have control issues. Or judgmental issues. Or just…issues. I have issues.

I saw myself trying to maintain two acres of vegetables single-handed, while the rest of the community sat around a campfire sipping expensive wine and singing songs. Every once in a while someone would shout out towards the field, “How’s the potato hilling going Shannon?”

“And you’d be playing the flute,” I told Darcy indignantly.

“I like playing the flute.”


“And you love gardening, so what’s the problem?”

After I got down off Thunder (my high horse-he’s a palomino btw) and took off my Little-Red-Hen-Who-Does-All-The-Work big ole Attitude Apron, I started to get intrigued.

I read a bit further and discovered many in the community were seasoned gardeners (duh) who were very capable and not the least bit scared of quack grass. I got the impression they might do a little snorting and eye rolling of their own at my paltry efforts to help out in the community patch. Only they wouldn’t because they are much more evolved and not at all judgey. Unlike some people.

I admit I kind of liked the elder persona. I imagined the young people coming to me for advice, though that would be a very bad idea as I have no clue what sort of advice I could impart. Still, it would be nice to be asked.

And then there were the children.

I have two, but they are 27 and 30 and neither plan on having children of their own. So no grandchildren in my immediate future, anyhow. But this community, it would have children built right into it. And I would be like a surrogate grandma. I could see myself guiding along chubby little fingers as they plucked slippery bean seed from a bag and planted them in a row. I imagined sharing the children’s excitement when the beans first popped their heads up through the soil, their little seed caps on their heads. The beans, not the children.

Kids picking vegetables on organic farm

At night I could snuggle a small child on my lap as we sat around the community fire, watching their parents play music or dance. Or I could read them story books. Neither rock climbing or white water rafting are very kid-friendly activities. They would need me to babysit from time to time.

But not too much.

And the clincher? There was no mention of making plans for popping off potato people’s heads.

That’s a thing.

I’ve read about it.

Maybe I should explain.

Because I love the idea of self-sufficiency I often find myself linking up to sites that promote prepping for when TSHTF (the shit hits the fan). TSHTF refers to anything that leaves the economy in ruins and people roaming the streets looking for potatoes. Preppers are ready for this. Not all, but some. They not only have their BOB (Bug Out Bag) packed with water filtration paraphernalia and matches, they are armed to the teeth. Even the ones who are already on the land and growing gardens etc. brag about stock piling an arsenal that would make a mafia king (or whatever they are called) weep with envy.

Come for their potatoes, they proudly post, and they will be more than pleased to pop off your head.

This bothers me and not just because I am fond of potatoes. And my head.

My grandparents claimed a homestead in the same area I live today, back in 1930. It was the Great Depression and they had a wagon, a team of horses, a toddler (my aunt) and a baby (my Dad), a lamp, some clothes, a few tools and a couple of boxes of household supplies.

Things were tough.

The shit had hit the fan.

Their first reaction was not to pop off people’s heads while they searched for potatoes. It was to help each other.

They got through a decade of mind numbing poverty by coming together with their neighbours (neighbour with a U because this was Canada) and sharing what little they had. They built a rough shelter out of spruce logs and lived on moose meat, Saskatoon berries and turnips. And onions. Lots and lots of onions. So many onions that when my father hit his twenties he put down his fork and flat out refused to eat another so long as he should live. Even now, at 85 and in the late stages of vascular dementia, if asked if he wants some onions, he will grimace and shake his head. But-and this is important-at least he has a head to shake.

During the Depression there were barn building work bees, threshing teams and when a community needed a school or a hall, they all got together and built one. It was about as intentional of a community as you could hope to find. Instead of every man for himself it was a community effort.

It could be argued that back then you could get land for free-or at least for cheap-and that gave you a chance to at least feed your family when TSHTF. And we weren’t nearly so populated. Or dependant on grocery stores. Or lacking in survival skills.

Maybe preppers have a point.

I just don’t want to be the kind of person who can shoot another human over potatoes. I would rather die.

Or so I say now.

With a belly full of mango black bean salsa. It would be more fitting if it were potatoes, but that’s not what I had for supper.

Maybe I would turn into Rambo Old Lady Prepper Person. People would fear me. They would throw their potatoes at me just to save their poor heads when they saw me coming with guns hanging from every limb.

No one knows for sure what they will do when TSHTF.

Utopia, Dystopia, the past, the future…wherever we go we all live in a community of some sort.

Maybe when we retire we will live in another.

In the meantime there is the present. And the present is pretty darn good.

I think tomorrow we will have potatoes for supper…

Raw potatoes, dill, garlic and butter on a wooden board