Because I was 15, spending a summer abroad to learn French, and I didn’t know who to talk to when you’d come to my bedside and grope me in the night. #WhyWomenDontReport

Like so many women, I don’t have adequate words to share in the spaces between these highlighted occurrences. They’re just a few among others buried in my subconscious, ingrained in the tactile memory of my cells every time someone touches me, even in moments of tenderness.

Because I was one of your guests, and I thought we were all enjoying a night swim in the Mediterranean. Yet the darkness hid your assault in broad moonlight. #WhyWomenDontReport

I’d posit that women are robbed of their own pleasure, for years, when their bodies become the unwitting object of another’s unwanted, yet continued, advances.

Because my  job was to film you, but you’d kiss me on the mouth every morning and “slept” for hours in the car with your head in my “lap” while my boss looked on and smiled. #WhyWomenDontReport

When sexual predators are in positions of power, there’s a feeling of communal embarrassment that goes along with the knowledge that everyone saw what they did. Why report, if all are in the know anyhow and were unwilling to help stop the impropriety?

Because I never saw your stranger’s face hidden in your jacket as you jerked off while I sat by the river, writing in my journal. I ran home terrified you were following me. #WhyWomenDontReport

Every woman knows the terror of sensing they’re being followed by a stranger. And when it is someone who half-hides half-naked, it’s even more frightening since boundaries have lost all meaning.

Because I was your girlfriend and there was no safe space between virgin and whore in your mind. #WhyWomenDontReport

I hope, for my daughter and son, that they’ll both find representations of strong smart funny and admirable women front-and-center in their books, magazines, ipads, and laptops. I had no female role models in literature or on TV and neither did the boys and men I grew up with.

Because I was traveling alone, and didn’t speak the language there. #WhyWomenDontReport

A culture that prides itself on complimenting women is one thing, but grabbing onto our bodies to bring us in close and cop a kiss or a feel, without knowing us, is another. When it happens in public for all to see and validate, a woman feels humiliated and powerless.

Because after you yelled lewd comments out your truck window for all to hear as I was jogging, you crashed into the parked car ahead of you and I still felt shame. #WhyWomenDontReport

Maybe karma has a way of working things out in small but poetic ways.













Doll House Haunted House

It was a dark and stormy night…(yes, we get plenty of these in the Pacific Northwest) and a couple of innovative kids created a mini haunted house from items they found in boxes and toy collections. They wanted to create something to play with but also to put on display outside the front door, without purchasing anything new. This haunted doll house is now a treasure, simply because they transformed a few everyday items and found some seasonal ones to add to the ambiance. The key is: Buy nothing and craft a cool Halloween decoration.

Here’s how this easy rainy-day project can quickly come to fruition for you, too:

1) A dollhouse will need to be your centerpiece.

2) Then, a glow-stick-style flashlight that glows a flourescent green will need to be procured from a closet. Or, use a regular flashlight and use some green plastic sheeting as a gel for your light.

3) Tiny plastic bugs must be curated out of your vast collection of creepy crawlies.

4) Next comes a search for white yarn scraps you might have thrown in the waste basket but thought better of. These will serve as cob webbing.

5) And finally, any tiny otherwise useless Halloween bits and bobs you’ve accumulated from previous years will make your mini haunted house’s yard art especially intimidating. If you don’t have anything, just ask for them on your local Buy Nothing group.

6) Put on some scary mood music (Pandora can be great for that), and let the mini doll-style Halloween fun begin.

What no-buy, no-waste Halloween ideas have you crafted up?

Tree Stump Planters

Tree Stump Planters are Natural and Easy. Photo © Liesl Clark

It’s been raining so much here, I started looking through some sunny photos and came across these. We have some enormous tree stumps on our property, old growth douglas fir stumps measuring 6-8 feet in diameter, left behind by the logging that took place when the San Francisco fire took its toll on our island’s trees. Our oldest and tallest helped rebuild that city, hundreds of miles to our south. One stump is so large we built a playhouse for our children off the edge of it, the perfect platform plus huckleberry garden for a pallet playhouse for little tree climbers.

Turn your trash backwards: Used wooden pallets are perfect for treehouses

But the mid-sized stumps on our cleared land just sat there for years, slowly rotting out, a small mass of wood and rocks that would take a bull dozer to remove. I decided to turn one, in the middle of a yard, into a planter. Since the stump’s interior was soft, I removed what woody material I could and then put potting soil and compost in its place. My planter was ready for an indigenous perennial.

I turned an unwanted tree stump into a favorite feature of the property. Photo © Liesl Clark

I chose crocosmia because they’re hardy, come from a bulb and need to be contained. Their reedy thin sword-like leaves spreading forth from the round and flat stump offer a pretty look. And the flashy red flowers are especially stunning in the late summer.

Tree Stump Turned Crocosmia Planter. Photo © Liesl Clark

Stump planters are a natural way to take advantage of the remains of an old tree. Here’s one made from a palm tree stump that my mother-in-law used to plant cacti.

Trunk Planter For Beach Cacti. Photo © Liesl Clark

You don’t have to wait for your trees to become stumps to make planters. These geraniums add color to a twisted trunk with a hole large enough to hold a geranium plant or two.

A hole in a trunk makes room for pretty geraniums. Photo © Liesl Clark

Do you have a stump or natural planter you’ve created for your blossoms? Please share.  Planters can be made from nearly everything.

10 DIY Fire Pits

The allure of the fire pit. Photo © Liesl Clark

The allure of the fire pit. Photo © Liesl Clark

We love outdoor “rooms” with fire pits. They extend your outdoor time by weeks. Seems the latest craze is repurposing metal things into fire pits. Here’s a list of some of the most innovative ones we could find:

1) Metal Wheelbarrow Fire Pit: If you’ve got a metal one that’s broken down, try to turn it into a fire pit. It’ll look cool in your back yard.

2) Washing Machine Drum Fire Pit: Our app users love this. Next time someone you know is getting rid of their washing machine, ask for the drum inside. They make beautiful fire pits.

3) Paver Brick Fire Pit: Brick and concrete pavers make easy fire pit insulation material. There are many tutorials to find on the web for these homemade fire rings.

4) Wash Pail Fire Pit: A metal wash pail can work as a fire pit. Just be sure that if it’s galvanized you give plenty of time for the chemicals on the metal to burn off.

5) In-Ground Fire Pit: This is a classic and easy fire pit to make at home.

6) Old Grill Fire Pit. Wait for an old grill to come up on your Buy Nothing group for this fire pit option.

7) Shopping Cart Fire Pit: My favorite, with built-in log storage rack.

8) Industrial Wire Waste Fire Bowls: You can always try your hand a making fire bowls like these.

9) Tractor Rim Fire Ring: If you have access to a tractor rim, it makes a great fire ring.

10) Castiron Bathtub Fire Pit: Maybe you have an old tub hanging about?

Low Impact Trekking

By Mr. Everest

A Journey Beneath Dhaulagiri. Photo © Liesl Clark

A Journey Beneath Dhaulagiri. Photo © Liesl Clark

In most parts of the world, the higher we journey, the more rarified the air and pristine the environment. But in Nepal, that truth is changing. Twenty thousand visitors per year travel to the Mount Everest region, and thousands climb the 20,000 foot trekking peaks to catch glimpses of the world’s highest mountains. It’s imperative that we strive to leave as little impact as possible, and take steps to reverse some of the impacts left behind by others.


This summer, we’ll be on our 13th journey through Nepal with our children, and feel fortunate to be able to share our work in the Himalayas with them, continuing the friendships they’ve established after 12 consecutive years of coming to this rugged country every spring or summer.  Exploring the outdoors brings joy to my 10 and 13 year old daughter and son and is integral to who they are.

Our children go on expeditions with us in Nepal.

Our children go on expeditions with us in Nepal. © Liesl Clark

My wife, Liesl, and I strive to pass on to them the 7 principles of leave no trace, established by the Center for Outdoor Ethics. I’ve added my personal insights and recommendations to the basic principles that you might find useful in planning for your next trip into the wilderness, whether alone or with your family and friends. The less impact we have on the environment, indeed even in our own backyards, the more readily our unique ecosystems and all the flora and fauna therein can thrive.

1) Planning your trip ahead of time and preparing is the first step. Take extra care to gain cultural knowledge of the behavior and the accepted norms of the country you’re travelling in. Learn about the environment you’re going into, whether it’s a pristine alpine wilderness or a heavily used high desert. Memorize which habitats are the most at risk and stay clear of them. Knowing this can make a difference in the choices you make for camping and recreating. Establish contingencies and have a plan in place for all contingencies.

Spinning prayer wheels in Kagbeni. © Liesl Clark

Spinning prayer wheels in Kagbeni. © Liesl Clark

Here are a few steps you’ll need to take in the planning phase that will greatly reduce your impact:

a) Get rid of all excessive packing of items you’re bringing with you. Remove the packaging from batteries, for example so you don’t bring that unnecessary paper and plastic (called blister packs that are not recyclable) with you.

b) Procure the right medicines and medical supplies for your trip. Remove the unnecessary packaging.

c) Bring maps and navigation materials like a compass or GPS.


d) Set up the necessary insurance you’ll need in the event of a medical evacuation or helicopter rescue.

e) Where will your water sources come from? Please avoid plastic bottled water and plan to bring your own reusable water bottle to be refilled. Bring a Steripen for ultraviolet water purification, a water filter, or iodine tablets to treat your water.

2) Travel and camp on durable surfaces. For most trekking, you don’t need big heavy boots. You can travel in lighter trail shoes which don’t impact the terrain as much, causing erosion. Avoid going over people’s stone walls or walking through gardens. If you open gates, close them behind you. The point here is that you’re leaving no trace that you passed by. This is one instance where you don’t want to leave a big impression behind.

Sometimes travelling by foot is more reliable than by jeep. This jeep lost its fuel tank en route up the Kali Gandaki River. © Liesl Clark

Sometimes travelling by foot is more reliable than by jeep. This jeep lost its fuel tank en route up the Kali Gandaki River. © Liesl Clark

3) Have a plan for dealing with your waste:

a) If you’re in a National Park, use blue bags or something similar to pack out your own human waste. If you’re trekking, use outhouses. Otherwise, carry a small trowel or shovel and dig catholes. Carry your own toilet paper and burn it.

b) Carry out all plastics from your bars and all packaging from your food. A compression sack can do the trick to keep the waste in one place in your pack and consolidated.

c) Carry out the batteries from cameras and other equipment. These should be disposed of responsibly. Either take them home with you if you’re travelling in a country that doesn’t recycle them, or research where your nearest recycling facility is at the end of your trip. We stockpile all our batteries on our expeditions and bring them home.

d) Water: This might be the single most important step you take. Bringing your own reusable bottle saves the environment from hundreds of plastic bottles potentially littering the landscape. If others see you using a Steripen, a filter, or water tablets, they’ll see how easy an option it is. You can always ask for boiled water, but this water requires fuel to boil contaminants. A Steripen or hand-filter will mean you can get water wherever you want and it’ll be cold. It will also be free! I use a Steripen that has a solar charger attached to it so I’m not reliant on power or batteries to use it. Learn where the potable water stations are so you can support these efforts to stop people from buying bottled water.

Using a Steripen means we can have fresh cold water anywhere. © Liesl Clark

Using a Steripen means we can have fresh cold water anywhere. © Liesl Clark

e) When you’re on your way out, pay it forward by removing any waste you see in the environment. Especially if you come across potentially toxic waste like batteries or CFL light bulbs. These shouldn’t be anywhere outside, helping to remove these things and disposing of them safely, helps zero-offset your impact.

Removing a battery from a village water source. © Liesl Clark

Removing a battery from a village water source. © Liesl Clark

4) If you’re cooking on your own, be sure that you know where you should and shouldn’t have fires. Use local fuel that you can find easily and use those in substitution of wood fires.


a) If you’re trekking where there are villages nearby, eating locally is a great way to reduce waste. The more local produce and indigenous food products you can eat from nearby fields and kitchens the less imported foods are needed to support your journey. We eat in homes and tea shops wherever we can in Nepal, where you’ll always find dhal bhat a Nepali dish of rice and lentils along with side dishes of locally grown vegetables.

Local Fresh Goatsmilk Yogurt in Kolapani. © Liesl Clark

Local Fresh Goatsmilk Yogurt in Kolapani. © Liesl Clark

b) Save your organic waste rather than throwing it outdoors to decompose. In some environments like the desert, even eggshells take an inordinate amount of time to break down. If you’re passing through villages, local farmers will be happy to take your stockpiled organics to feed to their stock animals (chickens, cows, yaks) or put in their compost piles.

5) Leave the natural environment as it is. Refrain from picking flowers or taking mementos from the natural world. Take only photos, leave only footprints.


6) Be respectful of wildlife and don’t disturb any birdlife, mammals or any animals you come across.

7) Be respectful of other travellers using the same environment. The same goes for locals. Try to learn some of their language so you can greet them and ask a question. For starters, learning how to say hello, goodbye (often the same word), thank you, good morning, and counting to three will get you far. And, as in step #1, be aware of cultural norms.

9-hour day in jeep will put any 7-year-old to sleep. © Liesl Clark

9-hour day in jeep will put any 7-year-old to sleep. © Liesl Clark

Most of all, be in the moment and enjoy the journey, and where it takes your mind and heart.


How to Fix a Cracked Wheelbarrow

I bought a plastic wheelbarrow and regretted it 4 years later. So much for the “plastic lasts forever” theory. Yes, it lasts forever, but it cracks in the interim, into smaller and smaller pieces. That was the fate of our deep Ace Hardware wheelbarrow that was this homestead’s workhorse for some 4 years.

We’ve had to replace the wheel once already. You can do that at Ace, amazingly, as they have parts ready to purchase for their wheelbarrows, but I doubt they’d have a new tub for us to replace. I thought we’d have to trash the whole molded black plastic thing, and then our friend, Ang Temba Sherpa from Nepal came to the rescue. He stitched it!

Yep, the fix was a mend via wire stitching, using a thin drill bit to make small holes for threading the wire along the crack. It’s a beautiful work of art to behold, somewhat like the stitch-up of the plastic plant pot I spotted in Tsarang, Upper Mustang, Nepal on our last trip there.

repair plastic pot

Why don’t we mend our plastics in this country like the people of Nepal do?

It’s now been another 4 years since Ang Temba repaired our wheelbarrow, and I’m proud to tell you that we’re still using it! The long cracks in the base are actually quite welcome, as they let rainwater drip out. We have an improved wheelbarrow as a result of this everlasting hand stitchery.

Thanks, Temba!


It’s still in action!

10 Things You Never Need to Buy

We got our inspiration for this post by reading Suburban Pioneers’ list of 10 common products you never need to buy, so we thought we’d spread the wealth and add to their list. So, this is really about 20 things you never have to buy. Do read their list first.

If we all compiled lists of 10 “Never Buy” items complete with explanation, we’d live in a utopian circular economy, my dream economy.  After reading our list, then compile your own and send it along in the comments below. I actually already have a list of 100 items, but I’m going to work up to it, so I don’t overwhelm you.

So, here goes: 10 common items you should never have to buy —

1) Paper towels (Um, use cloth ones.)

2) Hair ties (look in every parking lot and side walk. I’m serious.)

Hair Ties and Hair Clips Recovered From the Parking Lots and Sidewalks of the World. Just wash them. Photo © LIesl Clark

3) Pens (Look in every parking lot and side walk. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of pens I’ve found in public places.)

Pens Recovered on Puget Sound Beaches

4) Ribbons (Look on every shoreline.)

Ribbon Found on Our Beaches (including the spool), Photo © Liesl Clark

5) Styrofoam Packing Peanuts or bubble wrap (just ask on your local Buy Nothing group.)

6) Ziploc bags (wash them.)

Gaiam Bag Dryer, Photo © Liesl Clark

7) Plastic children’s toys (just ask any parent for them, they’ll gladly give you a box or 3.)

These Plastic Toys Were Being Thrown Away. Photo © Rebecca Rockefeller

Oh, and if the parents in your neighborhood want to hang on to all that plastic, just make your own toys. Here are a few (hundred) ideas for toys you can make from stuff in your home to get you started:

Click through for innovative ideas for making your own toys or reusing them at Trash Backwards

8) Books (use your library!)

9) Plastic straws (use your lips.)

plastic straws recovered from Point No Point and Schel-Chelb Estuary, WA, photo by Liesl Clark

10) Plastic cigarette lighters (use matches, especially from matchbooks you collect from bars and restaurants.)

Lighters Recovered from Puget Sound Beaches

OK, so now it’s your turn. What’s on your list?