The Book of Trees – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Book of Trees
by Piotr Socha  (Author), Wojciech Grajkowski (Author)
Published by Thames and Hudson (Big Books) (13 Sept. 2018)
Hardcover: 80 pages
Size: 15 x 2.2 x 21 cm
ISBN-13: 978-0500651698

The Book of Trees

Why are trees so important? How many types are there? How do they benefit the environment and wildlife?

This book, by the award-winning author Piotr Socha, answers these questions and more, tracking the history of trees from the time of the dinosaurs to the current day.

A very nice and informative, and beautifully color-illustrated book, that should especially be interesting for younger readers.

The one thing that is, unfortunately, missing as far as the uses of trees and wood are concerned is wood for kitchen utensils and much more. But then there is only so much one can get into an 80-page book, even a large format one as this.

A well written – and well translated – book with an easy text that should appeal to any reader, but one that is also easy enough to be understood by younger ones and with great double-page illustrations.

A very nice and informative book.

© 2018

Poverty Mindset vs Voluntary Poverty

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

voluntary-simplicityWhat was once called voluntary poverty is now referred to as voluntary simplicity because some people seem to have had problem with the word poverty.

When you decide to go that route on your own accord, to live a simpler, more or less, poverty lifestyle, it is a different kettle of fish to having it forced upon you by circumstances, some beyond your control.

We have looked at Voluntary Poverty before so now let us consider the Poverty Mindset with which we have, more or less, been programmed through various societal pressures and via the power elite.

The reality of this here and now of our existence in this world is that money, in one form or another, is an inherent part of the global interactive construct.

While many of us, if not indeed most, would love to live in a different kind of economic collective where money would not, necessarily, be the means of exchange fact is that currently most of us live in one where we have to use money for most of our transactions regardless of our beliefs and ideology surrounding this “energy”.

This “Poverty Mindset” is a mind control program that has cleverly created and disseminated by the wealthy elite who want us to believe in and operate from. The poverty mindset formula is simple: if we don’t have access to financial abundance, then we don’t have access to the resources we require to become more effective in this world. It is a program of suppression and oppression. Interestingly, it is also a program that requires resentment to fuel it.

In addition to that the mind control has gone so far that we see everyone who does not have the financial abundance as a failure and someone who is alone to blame for his misfortune.

Those elites and “our” politicians keep referring to money as “resources”? But money is not a resource. It is, at the very best, a piece of printed paper (or minted metal), at worst it is a bunch of numbers on a screen. The only thing that gives it any value whatsoever is our shared belief in its value. This means that money is actually a faith-based religion and the politicians and bankers its clerics. But are you and I ready to become non-believers?

Money only has the value that we give it. After all it is only a piece of metal, or worse still a piece of paper, with a number, a “value”, printed upon it. If we would so decide we could use anything as “money”, such as the bits of paper for the Monopoly board game, shells, copper discs of different sizes (in the latter case at least the metal does have a value in that it is something that is needed for the making of things), or bits of wood or simply figures written in a book.

What is “Poverty Mindset”?

It is the mindset that we are being programmed with, through societal pressure, into believing that only if we have a certain amount of money, a fancy car, a big house, and so on, that we are valuable to and in society. That those that have a lot of money and possessions are our betters and thus we should look up to them and, maybe, even obey them.

There is nothing wrong with having a lot of money and there is also nothing wrong with having not so much. However, people should not be pushed into poverty through high prices and low incomes, despite the fact that they work all the given hours, while others who work little or not at all “make” lots of money. That we should not accept. The worker is worthy of his hire, and in all honesty the people that many look down upon because they do the so-called menial and manual jobs are probably worthy of it more than the bankers and the chief executives of industry. Without the worker all the wheels would stand still.

But we are conditioned to believe in this exploitative capitalist system that those “at the top” are worthy of greater pay and remuneration than those “at the bottom” and that those who are in more or less poverty have only themselves to blame for not doing well at school so that they too could be in those “higher” positions. But what would happen if we all would be academics? Who would then maintain the parks, the forests? Who would collect the trash, keep our streets clean, care for the elderly and the sick?

Everyone's hours of work should have the same value and be rewarded in the same way, for the hour of the academic, of the chief executive, of the prime minister, is worth no more than the hour of the road sweeper, the dustman, the gardener, the forester, the nurse or the carer. An hour is an hour is an hour.

It is the system that pushes people into poverty and it is also the system that keeps them there and the majority blames the poor for their condition and looks upon them as something of no value. Mind you, those of the middle class and the upper class also look down upon those of the working class as if they have little or no value. And in the poor the same mindset takes hold, of believing that they are not worthy, but also resentment of those that have more.

And all, including those that are poor not by their own choice, look down upon those that chose Voluntary Poverty; who chose a simple life and lifestyle, trying to do with little money only and few(er) possessions. Doing without a car, a television, foreign holidays, and so on. Few, even those that are poor, believe that people could be (so stupid, as many see it) to voluntarily life a life of poverty (aside from, maybe, some monks).

There should be no poverty, aside from the voluntary kind, in society, if our society is as it is meant to be, with equality. Everyone should be equally remunerated for the hours that they work regardless of what the work is that they do. But for that we would have to change the system, including and especially the “monetary system”.

When everyone's work is regarded the same and everyone is being remunerated in the same way for the hours worked in hours and not coin and when there is work for all then, and only then, the poverty mindset will no longer exist either.

© 2018

What does it mean to be frugal?

There is more to frugality than penny-pinching.

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

What does it mean to be frugalThe dictionary defines frugality as "the quality of being economical with money or food," but there is far more to it than that. It is a word worth examining closely because it embodies values and principles through which we can improve our overall quality of life.

Most basically, frugality is about getting maximum bang for your money. It reflects a conscious effort to allocate your resources (that is to say money) in ways that offer the most value. A major part of getting value out of an investment is how well something does its job, and the cheapest item does not necessarily offer value if it generates more work, nor if it last only for a short while and then breaks.

Let us use, say, garbage bags as an example. If you purchase the cheapest bags, at 5 cents apiece ($5 for 100 bags), and they can only be filled halfway and occasionally split open, creating a huge mess on the kitchen floor there may greater value in the 20-cent bags ($20 for 100), which can be filled much further and are stronger, thus not having the mess on the kitchen floor.

There are more costs to the things you buy than just the initial dollars and cents. Using things costs time and energy, too. If you are saving money on something that is going to end up requiring additional time and energy to use, you need to make sure that the saved money is worth the extra time and energy.

Frugality means allocating resources toward things that matter to you; this can also be called “voting with your wallet.” The money you spend reflects values of many different kinds. In the example above, it it time and effort spent cleaning and taking out the trash that matter than saving 15 cents on each garbage bag and not just that, because if you need two or three bags to do the job of one it is also the resources and energy that goes into making those that you save. Other values could also be choosing plastic-free packaging, supporting a local food co-op, buying organic food, etc. Though, in general, frugality means making the pennies count and getting the best value for money and not just the cheapest product.

But frugality and being frugal is not just all about looking after our money when we buy things. It is also about making do, reusing and repurposing all the way up to upcycling, making things for your use from packaging waste, for instance, including glass jars, which are often the obvious choice for reuse. Alas, some people need reminding of that and the way our parents and especially their parents and theirs reused every jar they could and so many other things. Those jars were often the receptacles into which the other saves items for reuse where stored; buttons from worn out garments, reclaimed nails, screws, nuts and bolts, and so much more.

While with some of us frugality was put into the cradle many today have to learn it and cannot even see, for themselves, the reuse potential, say, of glass jars. As far as they are concerned those jars belong into the recycling bin and storage jars, for they have to match don't they, have to be purchased but then they have to be of recycled glass. The brainwashing has worked well. The brainwashing about recycling and buying recycled, that is.

© 2018


Press Release

pure raindrop.i3We're in the middle of a heatwave and saving tap water is becoming increasingly important. Any rain that falls is precious, so it makes sense to catch it while you can. With the Pure Raindrop water barrel, doing the right thing doesn't have to be dull. This award winning beauty is the designer option in rain barrels.

An economical alternative that looks great

The Green Basics Rain Barrel is a good value option that still looks great. With an integrated planter on top it's also an eco-friendly way to add some colour to your garden.

Built in water reservoirs

Many Elho pots and planters, including the funky Loft Urban collection, come with a built-in water reservoir. If you overwater, or there's a heavy summer downpour, surplus water is saved in the base of the pot for your plants to absorb when they need it. The overflow pipe makes sure that when it finally does rain your plants won't drown.

Watering cans

Sustainability isn't just about saving water. The Green Basics Watering Can in Living Black is made of 100% post-consumer waste material - about a dozen old detergent bottles. So your more delicate or precious specimen plants can have a much needed drink, even when there's a hosepipe ban.

Caring for your houseplants

Don't forget about your indoor plants when the weather is warm. A lot of houseplants need more water during the Summer months, which can be particularly problematic if you are going away for a few days. The Aqua Care watering system ensures your indoor plants get the right amount of water whatever the weather.

Elho pots and planters are widely stocked at all good garden centres, retailers and available online.

W: F:

About Elho

Elho is a family-owned company and the leading innovator in the synthetic pottery market. For more than 53 years, Elho has dedicated itself to the product development and production of grow your own, outdoor, indoor and designer pots and planters. Every year Elho launches dozens of innovations that continuously inspire people with fun, functional and creative products.

Give room to nature

Nature makes you feel healthier, boosts your energy and makes you happier. That is what the purpose of Elho is about; inspiring people to bring more nature into their daily lives. With the Elho collection you can give room to nature in and around your home. At Elho we are green in everything we do. Most of our pottery collection is made of recycled material, all of our pots last for a long time and are produced with 100% wind energy. Our aim is to be circular by 2020. Enjoy nature with Elho in a sustainable way.

Fewer toys definitely beneficial for children

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

fewer-toysThe other day I observed a small boy – about five to six years old – in the Park, while I was cutting the grass on the estate, playing for hours happily on his own with a toy truck while his adults were sitting on a bench.

With one single toy he was occupied, and seriously engrossed in play, on his own, without getting distracted or fidgety. I assume that, had his adults not wanted to leave, he would have happily been there for another few hours still playing with the self-same toy.

While parents seem to believe, all too often, that the more toys the child has the happier he – or she – will be and the more play and better play, and play experience, they will have. The opposite, however, seems to be the case rather, as also some research appears to strongly suggest as well.

The more toys a child has the less he (and the he stands for both genders here in the continuation of this piece) will be using his imagination during play but using imagination in play is what makes play the work of the child, as Maria Montessori said about play, especially unstructured play.

When we were children we, more often than not, made our own toys, often from scrap, wood or other, some of it waste materials, and from natural wood. We made slingshots – yes, working ones with rubber bands and leather pouch – stick guns, you name it. Sticks and stones often also were the materials for play constructions and we had fun for hours on end making our own entertainment.

On the other hand, even then, children that had (too) many toys – even though we did envy them at times – got bored with one thing very quickly and moved on to the next, never being able to link their play in the way that we did, looking back at it now, with hindsight. What we lacked in store-bought manufactured toys we made up for in imagination in play and in creating our own toys and stuff.

Too many toys in a child's toy box seem to distract play and learning and actually seems to lead to boredom rather than the opposite. In other words, masses of toys are not boredom killers but rather boredom creators because the child gets soon disinterested in the toys. There are just too many which is overwhelming. Fewer toys also make for less clutter in the playroom, bedroom, or any other room where the kids may play.

© 2018

DIY gardening apron from an old pair of jeans

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Upcycling an old pair of jeans into a gardening apron. Almost costs nothing and should give a long service, especially if sharp tools are put into the pockets in pocket protectors, made from old leather or plastic lotion bottles. 

© 2018

The madness of perpetual growth on a finite planet

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

31417091_10155122896907820_6858558697170272256_oIt is amazing how many, apparently same, people believe that you can have infinite perpetual economic growth on a finite Planet such as ours.

Perpetual economic growth and its cousin, limitless technological expansion, are notions and beliefs so deeply and firmly held by so many in this culture that they often go entirely unquestioned.

Even more disturbing is the fact that these beliefs are somehow seen as the ultimate definition of what it is and means to be human: perpetual economic growth and limitless technological expansion are what we do.

We cannot have perpetual economic growth and limitless technological expansion on a Planet that itself cannot grow; no planet can grow above its size. It is also impossible to have those two, each on its own or combined, with the limit of non-renewable, many of which are, almost, exhausted, as we speak, so to say.

Perpetual growth is a capitalist idea to keep profits flowing into the coffers of shareholders and CEOs to the detriment of the Planet and the poor that live on it. The entire idea of capitalism is based on this exploitation of the Planet and of the poor. Instead of the Earth's resources benefiting all creatures on this Planet, including humans, they are being exploited for the benefit of some rich elite, including water.

We have to change the system, the world over, in order to save the Planet, so to speak, and all of us. Tinkering around at the edges is not going to work and neither is reforming the system. The system is not broken, it was designed that way. Thus a new system is needed. A system when everything on the Planet counts, and not just profits for the few.

© 2018

In the heat do not drink (ice) cold water

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

psa-squareWater, yes, lots of it, but (ice) cold no...

We have all heard, and often assumed it to be an old-wives-tale and thus even discarded this warning, not to drink really cold water in hot weather conditions. Turns out though that it is good advice.

Apparently, if you are too hot and chug a bottle of cold water, it can send your body into shock. The body thinks that the stomach is suffering from hypothermia and so it takes the warm blood from your hands, your feet and head and sends it to the stomach. You will lose consciousness. And, in certain circumstances, that could be fatal.

Cold water is good, but only in sips. Room temperature water is better if you need fast rehydration. So, when (over)heated don't grab the ice cold water but the slightly warmed up one instead.

© 2018

Young people and knives in Britain and elsewhere

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Young people and knives in Britain and elsewhereWe have had knives in our homes, etc., for how long? Boys used to carry a knife on them, in years gone by, and that is not really that long ago, more or less routinely, especially in rural areas, from the simple pocketknife to fixed bladed sheath knives. They also took those knives to school often and how many stabbings did we have among children and young people? Almost zero.

Boy Scouts from Cub Scouts upwards carried the traditional Boy Scouts knife – first in the form of the “official” pocketknife, later the sheath knife – on their belts, openly, and even the Scout hatchet. They attacked each other or others? No.

Now we have this so-called knife culture (sorry, the people who phrased that term have no idea of true knife culture) with all those stabbings and such. When did this phenomena appear? Around 30 years ago or so. And what happened at that time? The proper disciplining of children was outlawed, more or less. A correlation? I sure think so.

The same goes for guns, say, in the United States. People in the Unites States have had guns in their homes for 200 years and more. Mass shootings, including and especially those in schools, perpetrated by students, have only become a problem in the last 30 years or so. If you look closely enough you will sure see the correlation between gun shootings and the decline of and in disciplining our children. Children today believe that they can do as they like having to fear no consequences, as they no longer are permitted, by law often, to be spanked.

When the paddle and the cane were removed from home and school the trouble started. We had – virtually – nothing of this kind in the years until that time. And still people refuse to see the correlation between the two. In addition to that ever since then there seems to have been an increase, generally, in aggression and violence in children and young people, against one another and against other people.

Treating the kids today with Ritalin for supposed ADHD and ADD also is an additional problem for one of the side effects, apparently, of that drug, and of Prozac, is what? Hold on to your hat. According to some medical professionals the side effects are uncontrollable anger. So, while it may dull the kids down when they explode they really do and have – almost – no control of their anger.

Yes, admittedly, violent TV and cinema, computer games and especially virtual reality also have a great deal to answer for but when one looks close enough there seems to be only one real reason for all this malaise and that is that, today, parents and others may not guide their children by the use of proper methods of discipline and chastisement.

Any animal parent chastises their offspring and maybe some people would do well to observe the ways in which this happens but then, most of the do-gooder brigade have so much lost such a connection with reality and Nature, as have our nations' children, that they would not comprehend those ways.

In many other countries that, on one level, have higher cultural values and where the community, in raising kids, is more the focus than the individual, and especially those in the East, and where there is also a lot more focus – in the family and community – on disciplining of children, including physical chastisement, the problems that we, in the so-called liberal West have, seem almost non-existent. But when in those countries and cultures those old values are eroded or abandoned almost the same problems arise.

And still almost no one is willing – in the West – to see a correlation between the abandonment of proper chastisement of children and the rise of the issues that we are faced with, from lack of respect for people and property over general anti-social behavior and mindless violence all the way to knife- and gun crime and the rest.

Talking about rest... I am going to rest my case here; it is becoming rather heavy.

© 2018

How to keep cool in the summer heat without cranking up the AC

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Chorley_Park-awnings.jpg.860x0_q70_crop-smartMany, when the temperatures soar in countries in the “West”, with the USA in the lead, rather crank up the air conditioning which is no good for them, their wallet, nor the Planet. The simple act of opening a couple of windows in the house to create a draft, the way our ancestors cooled the house, does not even occur to them. So up goes the air conditioning but the clothes remain, often, all firmly in place and even the windows firmly closed.

In many countries of the world they have a different attitude to that and that is, aside from using window shutters and awnings to reduce the sun reaching the interior of the house they rather strip off and in many cases, during the warm season, their children go bare all the time, as do some of the adults, the latter at least indoors.

siesta_boy1Tip #1 in my department, therefore, is when the temperatures sore and it gets uncomfortably (humid) shed your clothes, all of them, and all of you. It is good for all of us but especially the children as their bodies, apparently, do not control the temperatures too well. That is why we so often see red-faced kids during hot weather and them being cranky. When unclothed their bodies, and adult bodies actually too, can perform better as to temperature control. I grew up that way and can vouch for it. The standard attire for Gypsy boys in days of old was, and not only in the heat of summer, nothing, and that was not even that long ago (and in some places it still is).

Adding family nudism to the inventory, so to speak, to beat the summer heat might be a good idea on more than one level. You may even find that neither the kids, nor you, really want to be be going back to wearing clothes again for much of the time.

Tip #2 Open windows to create a through draft. Don't, however, create an invitation for burglars by keeping windows, especially on the ground floor, open during the night or when you are out.

If you want to avoid bugs and other flying critters entering through an open window or door think fly-screen. Screen doors and window screens used to be very common not so long ago and, in fact, they are still in use in many homes.

Tip #3 If possible install shutters or other blinds and use them to keep the sun at bay indoors thereby keeping the temperatures lower. Even heavy drapes will keep some of the heat of the sun at bay. Also, awnings are very useful over the windows, as was common once.

We seem to, strangely enough, have forgotten all those old ways simply because of the advent of the air-conditioning and rather run that expensive thing which costs us dearly in many ways, by way of money and also the destruction of the Planet.

© 2018