Category Archives: self-reliance

First book out: The Hands-On Life: How to Wake Yourself Up and Save The World.

Longtime Cheapskate readers will recognize lots of the ideas and anecdotes here – thank you for being a great and supportive community all these years. I’m launching the book at Dragonfly Books and will be taking it to Content Books … Continue reading

Posted in community, gardening, self-reliance, the past | Leave a comment

Education and reality.

This weekend I read Tara Westover’s new memoir Educated in one sitting. The story it tells is compelling: raised in a survivalist, fundamentalist-Mormon family in Idaho, Westover first attends school at age seventeen (her first day at Brigham Young University) … Continue reading

Posted in culture, higher education, politics, self-reliance, teaching, the past, women | 4 Comments

Bacon and Brussels sprouts.

Next time you want a quick, warm, good winter supper — or a dish for Thanksgiving — especially if you are a Southerner in the Upper Midwest, here’s what you do: Go out in your garden and break off some … Continue reading

Posted in body, food, gardening, gratitude, seasons, self-reliance | Leave a comment

Parents, college, and the student self.

The recent controversies about “free-range parenting” have me thinking about something every college professor deals with: the relationship between parents and their college-age children, which is often very different from what we experienced with our own parents when we left … Continue reading

Posted in self-reliance, teaching | 6 Comments

If that don’t beet all…

Benjamin Franklin once remarked, “Experience is a dear school, but a fool will learn in no other.”  Put another way, knowledge can be expensive, but a little pain can make it stick.   Put a third way, I will never again … Continue reading

Posted in animals, attention, food, gardening, self-reliance | Leave a comment

Yo, Thoreau.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that … Continue reading

Posted in attention, conservation, politics, self-reliance, technology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

This is your brain on skis.

I learned to cross-country ski from a student of mine about three years ago, on an excursion with a bunch of other novices and a few ultra-experienced daredevils who could launch themselves off the side of a hill, spin in … Continue reading

Posted in body, Driftless region, resilience, seasons, self-reliance, yoga | 4 Comments

Your native town, and the world.

“Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires … Continue reading

Posted in art, self-reliance, spirit, teaching, the past, travel, writing | 1 Comment

Moving home: (re)thinking the organic South.

Sometimes I think “home” in my mobile life has become less a specific place than a kind of place where certain conditions obtain — the sense of comfort, practicality, and freedom that comes from being able to move around on … Continue reading

Posted in community, conservation, food, gratitude, politics, resilience, self-reliance, the South | 6 Comments

The humility wheel.

Pottery class, day three. Clay in hair.  Clay in eyelashes.  Clay on neck.  Clay on shirt and jeans.  Clay on sandals, tracked inadvertently across studio floor.  Clay deep in cuticles.  Hands and arms trembling when held out to examine clay … Continue reading

Posted in art, attention, body, mystery, self-reliance | 3 Comments