Thursday, 30 July 2015

Hermits Arrive

So I'm doodling around on the Enlightenment Superpath, and I surf into Arvesund, a Swedish company that makes prefab outbuildings. I browse through attractive garden sheds, summer cabins, sauna houses, and the odd lusthus, when suddenly I discover their Eremitens koja: a purpose-designed, so-designated hermit hut, from the drawing table of architect Mats Theselius!

My price inquiry to the company has gone unanswered, but another firm sells a kit to these lines, made entirely of recycled wood, for 96 500 Swedish kronor (about $11,300 Yank, at current rates). Models with new-wood exteriors sell for 79 500 SEK ($9,300 US); new wood overall for 67 500 SEK ($7,900US).

This is not the kind of money a hermit carries around; I could build at least eight such cabins for the cost of that lowest-price model. (Four, with woodstoves.) But I gotta hand it to the designer: he gets it. If it's true that some of the serving suggestions in Arvesund's literature are a bit, shall we say, spiritually encumbered, the dimensions and basic accommodations are entirely on-spec. This is indeed "just enough". Good on ya, Mats!

But the mere existence of this product raises a burning question: are we hermits becoming that thing that all populations must be to have legitimacy in the Red Dust World: a market? Will those glossy up-market magazines that pass for the Buddhist press soon be carrying adverts for elegant artisanal Japanese rice kettles and fair-trade rushlights made by Indonesian villagers?

Estimated Category of Risk: NBL.

(Photographs courtesy of Arvesund; front view located on; interior and side view courtesy of; specs courtesy of SW Byggritningar AB.)

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

WW: Boys in the surf

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Poem: As You Like It (The Hermit)

The habitation of a hermit

Through the magic of Twitter, I recently met Prabhu Iyer, a poet in Chennai (India). Among his many compelling works is a Hermit cycle that succinctly encapsulates the eremitical impulse and mindset. He has graciously given me permission to post a movement I particularly like here, and so I'm sharing it with you.

The envoi alone could serve as the motto on the Great Seal of the Nation of Seekers, if we had such regalia.

by Prabhu Iyer

Let the film end before intermission
characters be underdeveloped
let the plot lie open like cut veins

and let the background score
resonate in the hall at its shrill note

It's a broken piece of the heart
cracked into two:
two faces reside here now
on either sides of the chasm.

Make whatever you wish out of it
Sweet or bitter end,
tragedy, comedy or farce
or thriller or horror,
write your own story, make it up.

take any road up the hill
to eternity beyond.

(Скит [Hermit Dwelling], by Аполлинарий Михайлович Васнецов [Apollinary Vasnetsov], courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and a generous photographer.)

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

WW: Tadpoles again

(It's happened again: tadpoles growing on the beach. This time it's a brackish puddle by the headlands. I don't know if frogs breeding in this dangerous, inhospitable zone is new, or I just never noticed it before.)

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Summer Trip


Here's a really now happening, courtesy of the Rusty Ring Experience:
  1. Type the word "psychedelic" in Google Search.
  2. Press Enter. (Some browsers do this automatically.)
  3. At the top of the search results page, click on "Images".
  4. Like, groove, baby!
Word up to all my fellow survivors of the 70s. Keep on truckin'.

(I wonder, if I replaced my desk lamp with a blacklight...)

(Artwork courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and a generous artist.)

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

WW: Windcar

(Photo doesn't look it, but this vehicle is really flying. The draught
kite pulls it equally well in all directions, wind direction notwithstanding.)

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Rock Groups 2015

Great sand stones

Time again for the yearly crop of Awesome Rock Groups Waiting To Happen. Same rules as ever:

  • Anybody who wants one of these can have it. There is no trademark, copyright, or grigri on any of them.

  • Remember that people often steal my names without telling me, or even waiting for me to think of them. So vet any you want carefully to make sure someone else isn't already that.

  • All clients of mine (which you become the moment you assume one of these identities) are entitled to tell everyone that they were named by a Zen hermit monk.

Where a name suggests a possible genre I've included that information as a serving suggestion.


Rock Groups 2015

The Next of Kin

Antofagasta (Spanish rock)

The Blacks (political rap)


Massive Transit

Under Where



Flags of the World




Gravesend (English folk rock)

Finisterre (Celtic rock)

Crabapple (American roots rock)

Umlaut (without one; irony-parsing metal group)

Goana (Oz group)

The HouseMartians

Polysynthetic (electronica)

The Caecilian Mafia

Man Ray

Left For Dead



Zoot Suit Riot (hot brass'n'sax swing)

Morticia (emo girl group)

Tucúquere (Andean roots rock)

Chompipe (Guatemalan roots rock)

Zopilote (Mexican roots rock)


The Axes of Evil

Urban Renewal (Motown revival group)


Cheap Meet

Camouflage (alt country)

Whammy Bar

Too Wellington

Back 40 (rockabilly)


The Virtual Uninhabitants

Bomb Vomit

Gregory Go Boom

Lothar and the Hill People

Tumour Spoon

No Jump Julie (Seattle sound)

Bluegill (country)

Watermelon (psychedelic)


Titular Lizard

Biff Blake and the Parasitic WASPs

(Photo courtesy of Kathy Reed and Wikimedia Commons.)

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

WW: Ironically good news

(When I was a kid, there were no sea otters on this coast. At all. They'd disappeared completely by the 1920s, relentlessly exterminated to the last individual by trappers. In the 1970s, they came under federal law, and today killing a sea otter, or even possessing so much as a bone, carries a crushing fine and/or ten years in prison. And lo, some days ago I found this on the beach. I'd heard rumours they were out there again. I don't know what killed this one, but it wasn't a trap or a rifle. So as I've often noticed, environmental regulation works. From the bald eagles that have gone from oddity to pest, to oil-free sand, to the now-rarity of dead birds and marine mammals on the tidelands, the beach is visibly better off than it was when I was a boy.)

UPDATE, 9 July 2015: Evidently this is not an isolated incident. Experts don't know why sea otters (and other marine mammals) are washing up on the North Coast in unusual numbers this summer. They first suspected domoic acid, a toxin that builds up in clams this time of year, due to a seasonal algae bloom, but now they seem to have written that off. Nevertheless I've noticed a remarkable number of dead razor clams in the surf of late. And sea otters live on clams. Anyway, the story is here.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Hermitcraft: Beach Peas

We're at the height of beach pea (Lathyrus japonicus) season here at the top of the planet, and that means I'm eating them by the fistful. They're common – in fact, ubiquitous – on my beach, and I gather them up on walks to toss into soups, sauces, and salads, or just shell and eat sur place.

Seeds that can survive five years in seawater have made beach peas native to virtually every shore north of the Equator, and a hearty willingness to grow elsewhere has seen them introduced to many southern ones as well. Their vines and fruit bear a marked resemblance to the domestic sort (Pisum sativum, late L. oleraceus), to which they are closely related. Their flowers too are very like those of garden pea, but striking lavender, blue, or violet. (Sweet pea [L. odoratus] is another close relative.) The pods are generally smaller and heavier than the garden variety, and the peas inside tiny by comparison. These don't reach harvestable size until overripe, and so have the waxy texture and slightly copper-penny taste of past-due garden peas. Not the tender sweetness we associate with their tame cousins, but entirely acceptable. They also have the notable advantage over most wild greens of coming on all summer long, so that the harvest window is months, rather than days.

As a wild food, beach peas catch their due portion of Chicken Little trolling, invoking in this case the spectre of lathyrism. Nervous readers may be assured that the chemical cause of that disease is meagre in beach peas, and leaches readily out in cooking; that you'd have to eat masses of shot-like peas over masses of time to present symptoms; that like scurvy, pellagra, beriberi, and other maladies of nutritional extremity, lathyrism cannot be contracted casually; and finally, that I have eaten these things all my life, both raw and cooked, in conventional quantities, and my butt still works. (See the Wikipedia entry linked above.) Always remember: any food can be proved "poisonous" by a determined crank. If you don't bring some reason to the table, you'll starve to death.

Any road. If you're around beach peas, toss some into something. They make for pleasant collecting, and welcome variety.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

WW: Contrail doodle

(Yet another military mystery: what is this plane doing? It continued scribing large stacked squares in front of the naval listening post for some time.)

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