Hearth:  ‘a vital or creative center’       

Eg: ‘All were welcome, friends and strangers alike, to their humble hearth.’

 Many years ago I converted part of an old horse stable into a 400sq.ft. workshop/studio.  In one corner I built myself a small clay-masonry cookstove/heater.  This corner was intended as a very  special space; somewhere to slow down, relax, and soak up some gentle far-infra-red heat.  The fire-warmed bench/bed has also become a great place for guests to bunk down for the night.

I took this photo of the heater last May 2020.   At this time I was making full use of the space whilst self-isolating after returning from the mainland where I had been helping my parents recover from covid 19.   These were the early days of the p(l?)andemic, and we were all trying to do the right thing.  At the time there was talk about impending shortages of medically trained people, so, in the spirit of service, I opted to fully expose myself to the bug for 2 weeks while I lived with my folks and tended to their daily needs.   I figured better to go through the process of developing natural immunity sooner (while the hospitals were empty) than later.

Both of my parents had recovered from the covid lung infection thru April into May but Dad continued to test positive.  What with pre-existing co-morbidities including high blood pressure, leukemia, 5 rounds of chemo, and a new regime of toxic blood pressure meds that were destroying his kidneys… you could say the odds were stacked.  One week after I returned home to Cowichan, he passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack.

The coroner’s autopsy found no sign of covid anywhere in his system, but with what we have since discovered about remnant proteins and junk circulating around the blood stream, it could have been a contributing factor.  Another factor was that his pacemaker had been glitching for some time, locking his heart rate at 60 bpm whether or not he was exercising.  And what with the public health orders then at play, he couldn’t get into an empty hospital to have it fixed.

But to my mind, the the biggest factor of all was his sheer work ethic.  Dad and Mom still lived in the same old 3-story BC box that they raised us kids in.  And just getting anything done in that house involved going up and down 14 stairs at least a half dozen times a day.  All through his life, my Dad was inclined to ‘just git er dun’, and traversing all 14 stairs in one go was just how he rolled – even at age 84, with his heart pounding out of his chest…  And then one day, he made his final ascent.  I recon there are worse ways to go…

So there I was, one week later, alone in my little studio.  Grieving.  Gazing into my wife’s eyes from 10 feet away, but not daring to hug her.  And filling out a daily auto-questionaire on my cell phone regarding my symptoms:  Runny nose?  Burning eyes?  Fatigue? Yes, yes, yes… cuz I’m crying; cuz my Dad just died.  These were insane times.

Amidst all this insanity, there was one thing that brought me profound com-fort:  the hearth.  Cooking meals, brewing tea, drying herbs and burning smudge on the wood-fired stove; and sleeping on the fire-warmed bench as it slowly emitted heat from  the earlier brief hot burn… was sooo relaxing.  Candles were lit.  Drums, rattles, flute and singing bowls in the mix.

Truth be known, aside from missing the touch of my wife and kids thru that stretch of time, I was otherwise not lacking.  My workshop/studio had morphed into a temple.   And I felt my Dad there at times, visiting thru the fire, checking in, saying thanks and farewell…

For those who have yet to experience the comfort of a fire-warmed earthen bed, it may be hard to  believe, but it feels a lot like curling up with a loved one.  And at that point in my life, May 2020, there was no better place for me to sing myself to sleep, dip into the limen, and wish my Old Man a very Bon Voyage…




fire and earth

I remember a moment back in 2019 during the country-wide railway blockades by indigenous-minded people, acting in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en resistance to pipeline intrusion through unceded territory…

I was watching the CBC evening news and there was a clip in which a couple of angry Albertans were shouting at a native fellow by the tracks: ‘Where else are we going to get the Kilowatts we get from fossil fuels?’

These guys were quite sure of themselves, and they might have had a good point.  When we look at the relative efficiencies of ‘green’ energy renewables, very few of them  can match the on-demand power output of fossil fuels. Solar PV ain’t much use when the sun don’t shine for weeks at a stretch.  Wind and tidal power are geographically dependent.   Those of us living in regions with abundant hydro-electric power may feel a bit lucky and smug.  But a little known fact about mega hydro production is the insanely high methane emissions that occur when the water churns through the turbines.  So if reducing greenhouse gasses is a priority, we have a major problem there too.

Nuclear?  Well, with Fukushima still puking contaminants all over the pacific ocean…  I’d say we had best think other-wise.  As a matter of principle, we simply shouldn’t generate a waste product that we have no idea how to  neutralize.

In  considering how to evolve the energy sector, we must weigh up the energy return on investment.  This includes factoring in the the costs of transformation, changing direction, reprogramming, retooling… it all requires immense amounts of energy.  So even if we do  opt for high-tech green solutions, there is no getting around the fact that we are likely to be hooked on the sauce for quite some time.

For transportation, I have no doubt that an electric engine is far more durable and reliable than an internal combustion engine.  And putting our sharpest minds to improving battery/storage technology is bound to bear fruit.  But the electricity to run those vehicles has to come from somewhere.  As Vaclav Smyl puts it: An electric car using electricity generated from burning coal… is a coal-powered car.   I have heard the argument that implementing a gas or diesel generator to recharge batteries is more efficient than gas/diesel engines needing to achieve variable RPM for driving speeds.  But I wonder how much of this advantage is lost due to an extra stage of transformation from combustion to electricity to propulsion…  At what point does the embodied energy in producing a new electric car outweigh that of keeping an old gas guzzler on the road.  And then there is the social/environmental toxicity of mining rare minerals for batteries to consider… So, when we really crunch the carbon numbers… the whole notion that ‘green is clean’, can be misleading.

All that said… when it comes to generating thermal energy to heat a dwelling, cook food, warm water, etc… the use of renewables is much more promising.  The answer to: ‘Where are we going to get the kilowatts equivalent to fossil fuels?’ is very simple: just look to that yellow orb in the sky.

Direct solar energy, averaged over a full year, has the capacity to keep dwellings in most regions of the planet comfortably warm throughout the year.  It is just a matter of optimizing our capacity to harvest, store and redistribute the thermal energy.   

This principle of harvesting and storing surplus for use during times of deficit has been at play at least since the first lizard opted to lounge on a sun-warmed rock.  Harvesting surplus energy (food) from a growing season to utilize during winter deficit was the instrumental principle in the dawn of agriculture.  It is also at play in the operation of a wood-fired masonry heater, which involves a brief hot (and therefore clean) fire, followed by efficient harvest and storage of thermal energy in semi-conductive earthen mass, followed by gradual release for a long time afterwards.

But ultimately, the most efficient way of optimizing our harvest of solar thermal energy for heating purposes is to directly harvest the surplus thermal energy available during summer, store it in a well insulated body of earthen mass, and gradually release it into a living space during winter.   

Given that a few billion people on the planet rely on external (beyond body -warmth) heat sources to keep warm for at least part of the year… and given how poorly electrical energy converts to thermal energy… and given all the trouble that arises from our lust over dwindling supplies of fossil fuels…    I dare say that now is the time to look to that yellow orb in the sky, and focus our minds into exploring, hybridizing, optimizing the existing earthen-stored solar heating technologies.

The fact of the matter is: It works.  The biggest obstacle is that it costs very little to build, and has zero operating costs.  If you find this statement baffling, please understand that a significant proportion Big Industry energy-sector resources go into ‘protecting’ vested interests.  And many of us who have successfully built such heating systems, have been consequently subject to varying degrees of intimidation and harassment.  I speak from personal experience (that commenced as we built the house pictured above).

Whether we call these heating systems ‘OM Solar’ or ‘Annualized Geo Solar’  or ‘Passive Annual Heat Storage’ or w.h.y… committing to such building-heating involves transcending deeply ingrained common assumptions and taking a courageous step out side the box…


For more info on this topic, check into my page on ‘earthen-stored solar heating’


I hope you enjoy 🙂

September fire

Hi Folks.

Well, I have been too busy playing with mud to reload many of the pictures of past projects.  But my friends Joe and Michelle sent me a pic of this heater nearing completion at their place.  A bit more shaping… insetting some tile mosaic… then time for finish plaster.


Now here it is after plaster and many coats of hemp oil.  The blue area of ceiling above is roughly where the top of the original rectangular brick and stone monolith fireplace was located.  Joe and Michelle wanted this new  masonry heater to have as low a profile as possible, so that kids could crawl around on it and find all kinds of places to sit.  At the same time, they wanted a big firebox that burns only once a day; so this made for a functional tension (the bigger the fire the more mass you need to harvest the heat…), but I think we pulled it off.  There is also a chimney flue from a basement woodstove running through the heater just to the left of the fire box.

Sometimes the building process evolves as we go.  At first there was no plan to replace the original pie-shaped wooden steps.  So, out of concern for tripping hazard, the bake oven was located opposite the firebox door rather than in the heater’s end wall.

For a while during the build we thought we’d go for a jungle mangrove vine/root feel to the chimney… then got to aiming for a nice cedar tree… then it ended up sort of ‘whatever’ with a bit of a Dr Seuss feel  🙂


HI Folks,

Welcome to the remnants of my website.

Sometime in early May it was hacked into and all the content (including dozens of pictures) that I had added in the past 2 years was removed and replaced with a cached version from 2019. This occurred just after I had begun blogging about my Dad’s success with natural medicines in resolving leukemia and covid 19 infection.

Natural building, natural living and natural healing are inherently woven together. Many of us who have gravitated into manifesting shelter and generating warmth with minimally modified natural elements, are also inclined to trust natural foods and medicines in resolving all manner of dis-ease. Some of us have further explored the possibilities of natural healing by journeying well beyond the parameters of consensus reality and systemic allopathy.  For the most part I have gone about this quietly, studying with highly adept medicine people… fathoming the commonalities between eastern, indigenous, and modern mind-body healing arts; helping like-minded friends and family clear up their health issues.

When my Dad asked for my help last year (to treat leukemia and covid) we began a profoundly enriching journey together as he successfully explored natural medicines for the first time in his life. This evoked quite a stir in his community. All of a sudden, friends and family who had never heard of things like devil’s club root-bark and turkey tail mushroom, and modalities like TCM were becoming curious…

Over the years I have witnessed time and again natural medicines being suppressed by the big pharma racket.  For the most part I have just accepted it as the way things are whilst quietly abiding amidst like-minded community. But with all that has gone down this past year of covid 19; with the obvious suppression of inexpensive off-patent pharmaceuticals such as ivermectin (see; flccc.net) to make way for extremely expensive vaccines… and with the millions of unnecessary deaths as a result… well, these are unprecedented times indeed –  if not in pattern, at least in magnitude.

And now, June 2021, as I receive emails from my kids’ school principals assuring us that everything will be fine once everyone is ‘vaccinated’… I cannot help but shake my head in disbelief.  The censorship of information and manipulations of perception are so gross… and the manufacturing of consent so reprehensible… that I have been impelled to speak up.  Blogging about my Dad’s recovery was one way of doing so.

As an unprecedented number of scientific researchers, doctors, naturopaths… healers and lay practitioners of all sorts are now being gagged into silence… and as the average Joe remains oblivious to the sheer fascism at play… I find myself wondering how to proceed with the restoration of this website.  I will probably gradually reload some of the articles and photo essays about natural building and radiant earth heating. But I doubt I will attempt to reload the story of my Dad’s healing journey – at least not here –  simply because the entities capable of said malicious censorship undoubtedly have far more capacity to mess with my cyber-life than I have to defend it.


So… lets see what happens…


Welcome to my humble attempt at ‘having a web page’.  I am not very active in cyber-space, as i am often busy exploring the ancient building and fire making techniques.   And if i am not busy doing that i am in the garden or hanging out with Sadie and our boys.

Many friends like to bug me about never taking pictures of my work.  But my retort is: ‘My hands are too muddy’, or: “I have no idea where my camera is.’  And there is truth to all this…  So, ya, i guess i am a bit of a throw back to simpler times.  In fact, the way i see it, there is no point opting for high tech building and heating processes when simple ‘low tech’ will do the job.

Case in point:  A modern conventionally constructed house requires a plastic vapour barrier lining to try and stop the (inevitable) migration of indoor atmospheric humidity into wall and ceiling cavities.   Said house must then have a ventilation system to discharge 50% of the house’s indoor air per hour.  Then it must have an even more complex HVAC system to try and recover the heat from the exiting air.  Granted, these high tech systems can work (for 10 years or so til they malfunction and require either costly repair or replacement…), but there is a whole nother way to go about heating, ventilating and regulating moisture that you will not hear about from the profit-driven building industry.

To find out more about these simple, durable, time-tested approaches to building, please click the above tabs to have a look at the pages.  I hope you enjoy…