consumerism, Upcycling, voluntary simplicity

The Year of Going Deeper

A lot of articles and posts came out in the past few years about people who have decided to drastically cut spending for a year. Pledges have run the gamut of the obsessive compulsive buy absolutely nothing, create no waste, grow all food and barter plans to more moderate plans to cut down and purge. And then, of course, there are those whose poverty leaves them no choice.

I became an advocate of voluntary simplicity in the late 80s, when I really couldn’t afford much extra anyway. For several years I wove on frame looms (still do) with rags and bought the cheapest yarn I could find at yarn outlets. I crocheted a lot. I worked at a bookstore that carried a lot of remainders and I was able buy samples from book buyers very cheaply and so book buying was my biggest addiction. When I came into a small inheritance from my aunt I spent it on a Harrisville floor loom kit, which I got at a wholesale price from a friend who had a weaving supply store.

We didn’t travel much or far. Both of us had low-wage jobs that gave little vacation time and no sick time at all. We would toss a tent and the dog in the back of our little pick-up truck on the rare weekend we had off at the same time, decided what direction to head, and went that way. We went to Lake Waccamaw a lot because it was free.

My life has accumulated a lot of stuff since those days, as we both got better, more stable jobs, a small house, and we absorbed the belongings of our parents that we couldn’t bear to part with. The book addiction is deeply rooted in both of us. I LOVE COLLECTING BOOKS of ALL kinds. Novels, art books, old musty books with Art Nouveau covers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, nature books, old textbooks, secretarial manuals…it’s bad in my house. The hoarding is bad. Bad, even though I regularly purge these books boxes at a time. At one time I justified it as wanting to open a used book store one day. I sold books on Amazon for a few years. Now I justify the hoarding as supplies for my book/mixed media/collage creations.

So this year, no purchasing of books or art supplies or knick-knacks that we do not need. I like the way David, the author of Go Deeper, Not Wider, approaches this idea. It puts a positive spin on using what we already have to enrich our lives. I’m not going without, I’m going deeper.

It’s already hard for me. I see a recommendation for a magazine, or a particular kind of scissors, and I look it up online. I know that if I buy an e-book or digital issue of a magazine it will most likely be forgotten without reading it. That has been proven. Online classes are bought and abandoned halfway through or sooner than that.

However, I mentioned that I bought the Blurb PDF of India Flint’s “Bagstories” and I have joined the private Facebook group where she is going to guide the buyers of her wee book in a project. This, so far, has already been worth the price for the connections I’ve made to other North Carolina artists on the Facebook group! This fabric may be a tad too stretchy for the bag projects, but I finally sacrificed my batik pants from the late 80s/early 90s that I loved so much and started cutting them up to reinvent them for a new use. I’ve almost finished measuring the warp for that rag rug project I began several years ago.

I’ve hoarded fabrics the way I’ve hoarded books – it’s time to go deeper into them as well.

20180121_154603

coffee pot posts, consumerism

Merry Christmas!

I’m having a quiet Christmas day with coffee, cats, book, and tapestry weaving. We’ll drive to my sister’s house tonight (not far away) for dinner and some family love.

Last night Sandy and I exchanged gifts, which we don’t always do. I declared Christmas to be a no obligation zone years ago, although I’ve yet to completely enforce that internally. I much prefer to give and receive on the heart’s schedule rather than obey the social demands of a day on the calendar. This blog has long advocated Buy Nothing Day and Buy Nothing Christmas. Sandy, however, has never really been on board with my anti-consumerist holiday philosophy, and this year I gave it a pass.

I bought Sandy a present because I saw something I knew he would like and be surprised by. (It was a Flexcut wood carving tool set.) He bought us two bodhrans! Now we can really annoy the neighbors. He nailed the perfect gift, something that we could do together. We will need to learn the techniques of playing these drums.

2017-12-25_09-29-27

Normally I do a Festivus post, but I’ve been really sick for almost a week and didn’t feel up to it. Still sick as far as my intestinal health, but my energy began returning last night and I actually got out of bed and did laundry. I feel better today than I have in weeks so who knows how long my body has been fighting this off? If I’m not okay after eating Christmas dinner at my sister’s house tonight, I suppose that I’ll go to the doctor, but at least I had a colonoscopy last year so have no worries there. Maybe it is related to my gallbladder removal almost three months ago.

Sandy volunteered to work today and since no one else is in the building and he expects no calls, I noticed that he took his violin. He used to do that when he worked third shift. Maybe I should get out my woodrow and tune it. We are both wishful musicians without the drive to actually practice, and it is shameful how many unused instruments are in our house. I learned early on that my creative gifts are in areas other than music. I took music lessons for most of my childhood and teenage years, including singing, piano, percussion, saxophone, and music theory. At some point you have to appreciate that you tried and the path is not yours. It made my life richer in the effort, and high school band was the bright spot in my dark teenage years.

A friend and I plan to hand deliver my tapestry “98% Water” to the Folk Art Center for the Tapestry Weavers South show later this week. It will be nice to have a road trip with a friend.

Now I’m going to make myself eat something and finish The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan before giving sitting at the loom a try. The one good thing about getting sick is that I’m back to my pre-gallbladder surgery weight, but it’s not a diet that I recommend. It feels bizarre to have no appetite at all for three days.

consumerism, Deep Roots Market, Food activism, Local food, Slow Food

New studio space and Deep Roots news

20161218_093526

Slow Turn Studio

The studio is all moved in to the house on Wharton St., except for odds and ends that will probably always float back and forth between there and home. I spent a good part of this past weekend there, and I think that Susanne and I will both be happy with the situation. I feel comfortable.

We both are joining a few other fiber artists from Greensboro in an exhibition called “The Fabric of Our Lives” at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. The show will be up from mid-January through Mid-March. I won’t have anything new to show, but I’m dusting off a few framed tapestries and fabric works and mounting the “Flag of Me” for the exhibition. More details later.

I’ve spent some energy in the last few months with an owner group from Deep Roots cooperative to convince the board of directors that there were some serious problems they were not addressing, as well as that they were taking the cooperative in a direction that was miscommunicated to the owners. We had some satisfaction in the last couple of months. The general manager resigned and five of the board members (from 2015 and before) announced that they would leave at the end of the year. They could not compromise with the newly elected members and our group was going to the meetings, emailing, speaking up, and holding them accountable.

The financial situation is still a bit murky and a whole lot dire, but at least the digging of the hole has stopped and we hope that with the 2016 elected members and their new appointees we will see a change for the better. Certainly there is a sense of relief in the store itself. There should be fewer closed meetings (a.k.a. “executive sessions”) and much more transparency and outreach to the owners of the cooperative. Democratic governance is a cooperative value that cannot be dismissed, and the remaining board members understand that.

I hope to see the store change its food policy back to one consistent with our original sustainable, ethical values, but whatever happens, I feel confident that the owners will have a say in it this time. I can live with that. Hopefully the most egregious of the food-like and factory-farmed products, like Hormel canned ham and Armour Vienna sausages, will be removed from the store. It’s highly embarrassing for a “health” food store and killing our brand that we built for 40 years. Patience is not one of my virtues but I’m going to try to have faith in the process. I know Joel and Betsy will be good guides for us.

Now counting the days until I am off for the winter break. We don’t plan to do much for Christmas, but we have decorated the front porch for the first time. I’ll have a lot of days to relax and do art and read. I really don’t want to do much of anything. Our family got together at Lake Waccamaw for Thanksgiving.

Reading right now: “Down All the Days” by Christy Brown, of “My Left Foot” fame. Wow.

Back Forty, butterbeans, buying local, consumerism, Local food, Market report, Slow Food

Back Forty Update and Market Report

It finally got cool enough for my butterbeans (or lima beans) to produce again. They will keep going now until a heavy frost.

My field pea crop is winding down. I prefer to eat them freshly shelled (not dried like this photo) with “snaps” – the immature pods snapped like green beans. This year they have been besieged by big black ants who hang out at the top of each pea and will run up your arm and bite you. You have to be very careful when you pick them. I don’t know what I’ll do about this next year. At least they are not fire ants.

Fig tree shadows

The fig tree has gotten huge again. I’ll have to cut it down by at least half this winter. Again.

The last fig

The last fig of the season is now in my stomach.

Market report:

Back in the early days of this blog, the focus was on Slow Food, especially on local food at a time when Greensboro markets and restaurants were just beginning to get on board and understand the meaning and implications of buying locally. I was a member of the board of the Friends of the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market before that volunteer group went through an weirdly political totally insane lie-based attack resulting in its dissolution. Since that time, the management of the market passed to a non-profit group who has brought the market back to a wonderful community again, which I am particularly grateful for since the insanity migrated over to Deep Roots Market. But that will be the subject of another post.

This morning at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, I bought the following:

Water buffalo cheese from Fading D Farm of Salisbury, NC. WHOA! And so good!
Buttercrunch lettuce, hydroponically grown from Tony
Stoneground yellow grits from Old Mill of Guilford
Small sweet peppers
Okra
Soap from Carol at Mimi’s Soaps
From Anna at Zaytoon:
Baba ganoush
Tzatziki
From Rudd Farm:
Sweet bicolor corn, my favorite
Watermelon
Tomatoes
Butternut squash
Eggplant
From Daniel at Nimby Farm:
Onions

Normally I also buy milk, meat and bread there too but I ran out of money this morning! I have a lot in my freezer, though.

I used to go to Deep Roots Market after the market visit to buy what I couldn’t find, but honestly nowadays I find most of what I need at the farmers’ market. I’ll go to Costco or Bestway or Harris Teeter or Earth Fare to find the rest of my needs until Deep Roots changes course, if it survives. I do still go to Deep Roots occasionally to buy things when they have the owner discount month to buy only products that are cruelty and GMO free. Today I’m heading to the other stores.

buying local, consumerism, Marvelous meals

Thanksgiving and Buy Nothing Day

Thanksgiving 2012
Pecan and pumpkin pies, by Lisa

I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends like we did. We have four great Southern cooks in my family – Willye Kate, my mother, Lisa, my sister, me, and Brooke, my niece. Here are a few photos from our dinner. Note the cornbread dressing (only my mother’s is acceptable) and the many casseroles, butterbeans, and deviled eggs. This is how we roll in North Carolina.

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Here are my two grand-nephews. Jake is the one modeling the gas mask. He has a great talent for antique and thrift store picking.

Thanksgiving 2012

Zeke was lost for two years once. His human mama finally gave up and went to the shelter to adopt another cat. She saw a cat that looked just like him. The animal shelter worker told her that he was not adoptable because he was mean and he was about to be euthanized. The cat was Zeke. I’d love to know what his story was. Believe me, this is NOT a mean cat.

Zeke

Today is Buy Nothing Day, a day that I used to celebrate here with much fanfare. Now I am more in favor of supporting small local businesses and supporting your local economy. But there is a lot to be said in favor of rejecting the travesty that the winter holiday season has become. Driven by sales, some people actually claim that they ARE spending family time by camping with the kids in front of Walmart or other big box stores on Thanksgiving in order to be first through the doors at midnight. This craziness is a family ritual that they want to pass on to their children.

People, let’s please not go further down this road.

The positive thing is that the Buy Local movement has spread and the Black Friday nonsense has gotten so nuts that I hear more and more that people are rejecting the pressure to buy buy buy for the holidays and returning Thanksgiving and Christmas to their original meanings. Of course you won’t hear this much in the news. There might be a token reference to the simplicity movement or the local movement. I hear this from friends and family and it makes me feel better.

Remember how the news media did their best to convince you that the presidential election was still too close to call when quite a few polls and trustworthy, impartial analysts indicated otherwise? It is in their best interest to keep the frenzy of consumerism whipped up in the same way.

The longer I live, the more I would like to get rid of most of my stuff and just spend my money on the essentials and experiences. Really, how much do we need? I live better than probably 95% of the world and I am probably considered to be lower middle class in the United States. If you’re thinking about giving me a present, please donate the value of my gift to a charity who will truly spend it to help the needy. I will be much happier if you do!