consumerism, voluntary simplicity

Five years

Ah well, you can tell that this blog is not as important to me these days, since I let my 5th blogiversary blow right on by without even thinking about it.

Part of it is what many bloggers say after writing a blog for this long – how many times do I want to write about basically the same stuff? In my case, I started this particular blog as a garden journal and as therapy. I was changing my life a little at a time and journaling made my path clearer.

Eventually, when this blog became more of a project to support and interact with my readers, I found myself connected with a huge network of foodies, organic farmers, urban homesteaders, and those who were eager to begin moving in that direction. I found that there was a growing number of blogs and websites and discussion forums out there that did a lot better job of educating and supporting newbie gardeners and sustainable food advocates than me, and that made me very happy. I backed off the urban homesteading subject and concentrated on my artwork.

Because I was tired of writing about how to blanch peas and where I was buying my seeds from this year. I’ve learned a lot, but my life hasn’t changed much as far as food goes. I make the same dishes, pretty much. I still grow as much as my space and body will allow in my back yard, and I buy as much as I can from local farmers and food artisans. What I can’t grow, I buy at the farmers market. What I can’t buy at the farmer’s market, I buy at the local natural food co-op. After that, I go to the grocery or drug store. I have been able to avoid going to a mainstream supermarket for months at a time. I can afford to do this because I don’t buy a lot of processed food and the quality of my food is a priority for me. Food is still just as important. Food writing, not so much.

I’m a secretary, and I’m proud of it. I’m not rich, and I don’t really want to be. I want to be comfortable, with a car that runs, and a small house with a garden, and in good health. Voluntary simplicity is a philosophy that I am very comfortable with. It’s nice not to worry about always chasing a job that pays more money but creates more stress. I’m satisfied. I’m not interested in making voluntary simplicity into a contest to see how little I can buy, though.

Here is a blog that I just found through Grist: Possum Living. The author wrote a book about frugal living back in the 70s, and it has been reprinted. I like Dolly a lot and plan to keep reading this one.

I wouldn’t be able to raise my own meat and poultry, since I am too soft-hearted to kill an animal. It takes very little time for me to fall in love with an animal. I also fall in love with trees, rocks, sticks, and coffee cups. Ask my husband. But I admire those who do raise their food animals with humane care. I don’t think that vegetarianism is for everyone, but I admire vegetarians too. I fall somewhere in the middle – I eat meat, but I am highly particular about it.

The one trend that I see throughout the years of writing this blog is the tendency to care more about my priorities and less about how other people perceive them. I don’t waste a lot of time listening to people who talk about reality shows or fashion or whatever. If something or somebody gets on my nerves, I assess if they are really essential to my well-being or happiness, and if they are not, I avoid them rather than wondering if something is wrong with me for preferring solitude. I’m not willing to try that hard any more. And I used to, boy, did I used to. I tried so hard to be “normal,” to care about the things that “normal” people did. Now I think that “normal” people can adjust to me if they want to, and if they don’t, that’s okay as long as they don’t insist on me joining their club.

Maybe that is simply growing comfortable in my own skin, finally, or maybe it is more of a willingness to be selfish. I was about to say that maybe it is a matter of aging, but I see too many older people who are caught up in consumerism and what it means to be a “real” American and in the “right” group. This is probably the kind of thing that I’ll be thinking and writing about more as I ascend the final year of my forties. Whether I’ll do it here or not, I don’t know. I’m on Facebook and Flickr a lot more nowadays, and those applications seem to be serving my needs. I can’t imagine totally getting away from being online though. I’m definitely hooked on that.

consumerism, voluntary simplicity

Paying it forward

I’ve been trying to think of the right way to celebrate this holiday season without spending my money on gifts that are not needed. There are many worthy organizations to give to, including Heifer International and Oxfam. Then I was catching up on some of the many blogs that I enjoy but don’t get to read often enough, and I came across this post at Red Thread Studio that hit me just right.

So dear friends and readers, I have donated a sewing machine to Women for Women International in your honor. Thank you for your friendship and support over the years.

I wish you all a Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) full of peace and joy.

coffee pot posts, consumerism, critters, voluntary simplicity

Saturday morning coffee pot post

This week has been consumed by studying (I’m pretty sure that I aced the final exam) and the arrival of my new laptop. I’ve been limping along for a long time on old computers that can’t quite handle the new technology, at least not well. My husband loves to gather up old computers and reassemble the working parts together to make a new computer. He bought the laptop I previously used for $60. It was a good deal, but it was just about to kick the bucket. Now I have a CD/DVD player that works and a battery that charges and a processor and memory that can handle more than one thing at a time. I can use iTunes again. The only thing left to do other than finish transferring my files (in progress) is to hook up the wireless to our router.

It finally turned cold here and the Back Forty is done except for broccoli, kale, parsley, and various lettuces and mustard greens.

It has been funny watching the competition for Top Cat play out. The social hierarchy is different for the various cats. Jazz is the tiniest and the oldest. Lucy is the biggest and the youngest. Theo is the newest and next to the youngest and next to the heaviest. Poor Guido is just confused.

Jazz and Theo’s new pecking order:
1. Jazz
2. Theo
3. Guido
4. Lucy

Guido and Lucy’s new pecking order:
1. Theo
2. Guido
3. Lucy
4. Jazz

I’ve been exceptionally lazy and a bit depressed about my continuing problems with pain. Last night I managed to get it together enough to do some cleaning and some laundry, make a soup that is kind of like clam and corn chowder, but low-fat, fire up the woodstove, and read some good books instead of watching Hulu or farting around on Facebook all night. I finished A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman, and began Ordinary Magic, Everyday Life as Spiritual Path, a collection of essays and excerpts from some of my favorite authors such as Thich Nhat Hahn, Natalie Goldberg, and Frederick Franck. I hope that this will give my spirit a positive boost and improve my perspective, which can only be described as kind of blah. I don’t really feel much of anything.

I do feel some irritation toward people who have totally equated Christmas with shopping. Maybe I’m more sensitive to it this year. It’s hard for me to keep my smart-ass mouth shut. For example, a woman from my childhood on Facebook is outraged because a Walmart near her has not decorated for Christmas and is not playing Christmas music. Doesn’t sound true to me, but whatever. She is a Sarah Palin fan, if that explains anything. I want to say – Miss ******, what does Walmart have to do with Christ’s birth? Isn’t it actually LESS offensive if they are not tying in with Christmas? But the paranoia of the folks who have been convinced by the right wing that the libs are trying to take Christ out of Christmas is deep-seated now. They don’t trust anyone else, so I try to stay out of it, other than voicing my opinion here. But it is hard, and sometimes I don’t succeed.

I am a little excited about some woodcut ideas that I have, and I hauled my woodcut and printing supplies from the studio in the back (which I think will be converted over to storage) to the second bedroom where I have set up a workspace. It has to do with family history and autobiography in visual terms. I want to make some Christmas cards too.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a cold rain again (we are weary of it here, but our drought seems to have been broken) and I plan to get together with a good old friend that I haven’t talked to in years. So I do have a bright spot on the horizon to look forward to.

coffee pot posts, consumerism, Festivus, voluntary simplicity

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Actually, I wrote a long one yesterday that I lost and didn’t have the heart or the patience to rewrite it.

We are in the middle of the holiday season, which brings out the imp in me, because I love to bug people who love to shop and who hate the phrase “Happy Holidays,” so I try to use it as often as possible.

My favorite holiday of the season is Festivus, celebrated on Dec. 23. From Wikipedia, here is the story of the origin of Festivus according to Frank Costanza.

Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.

Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?

Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us!

Kramer: That must have been some doll.

Frank Costanza: She was.

Excuse me while I get a tissue. This lovely story gets to me every time.

In our house, after the airing of the grievances, we have to pin Miss Jazz, which makes it a fairly stress-free ritual.

I have not yet erected a Festivus pole, but there are actually such things for sale. Yes, even the sacred holiday of Festivus has been sullied with commercialization. I guess I could buy one of those leg lamps to illuminate it.

I would love to celebrate Buy Nothing Christmas if the others in my family would go for it. Mostly, they have, but we still buy presents for my mother, my grand-nephew, and my brother-in-law. Two of these have been covered.

I don’t mind buying a perfect, unexpected gift for someone but the obligation of having to buy something for somebody on a particular day no matter what really bugs the crap out of me. Especially if they are difficult to buy presents for. My mother usually is a toughie, and will let you know if your present is not up to snuff. It’s more of a respect thing with her, I think. She grew up in the Depression and gifts mean more to her. Fortunately, she told us exactly what she wants this year.

Gifts to charity don’t do it in these cases. Personally, I would love a gift to a worthy organization like Heifer International or Oxfam in my honor.

When people stress over the dozens of gifts that they “have” to buy each Christmas, I thank God that my family has never emphasized “stuff” at Christmas. As kids, we got presents but never loads of stuff. We would much rather get together over a good meal, sometimes in a nice place at the beach, than worry about shopping for each other. We are not rich, but we know that we are blessed, and that is enough.

consumerism, voluntary simplicity

Buy Nothing Day

Take the Plunge:
You know what they say: a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. You feel that things are falling apart – the temperature rising, the oceans churning, the global economy heaving – why not do something? Take just one small step toward a more just and sustainable future. Make a pact with yourself: go on a consumer fast. Lock up your credit cards, put away your cash and opt out of the capitalist spectacle. You may find that it’s harder than you think, that the impulse to buy is more ingrained in you than you ever realized. But you will persist and you will transcend – perhaps reaching the kind of epiphany that can change the world.



I hate shopping.

I hate shopping. I really do. Uh, unless it is for books or art supplies. Or food at the farmer’s market. Or pottery.

Okay, let me rephrase that. I hate shopping for clothes and shoes. I really do. Today was awful – we stopped by Sears during lunch and I tried on bras. I didn’t buy one because the only ones I liked in my size were too expensive. I’ll wait for these to go on sale. But at least I got through the horror of figuring out my new size. My bras are totally worn out because I so desperately did not want to go up a size. Shopping for bras, underwear, and bathing suits is my idea of hell. My bathing suit is at least ten years old and so worn out I fall out of it every time I bend over, so I wear a T-shirt over it rather than go shopping for a new one. I have a closet full of jeans that are getting too tight and too raggedy, but I’m on the cusp of 18 land and I hoped to never go there again.

Now that we’re done shopping for a car, I’m really excited about getting the Honda tomorrow. I’ve been plotting to do this for so long, and I’ve always either chosen other things first, or some worrisome distraction has interfered. This will be the first new car either of us has had since we bought the Tercel in 1992. The coolest thing about this car is all the different ways you can fold the seats flat to give you just the right amount of cargo space. You can split it right down the middle to haul something long. The photo in the booklet showed someone with a surfboard entirely flat in the car. If we ever get back to doing 18th century reenactments, that will come in handy for the tent poles.

Last night I had a couple of errands I had to run: prescriptions and cat food. Was it my fault that my route took me by Ed McKays again? And that they still had a few grand old textbooks and encyclopedias? I bought The Artist’s Way, just because I feel guilty taking all that free stuff without buying something. It’s a book that I’ve meant to take a look at for a long time anyway.

I know that I still haven’t written about the Artist Trading Card project. I will. Let’s just say right now that I’m brimming with ideas and I’m preparing the first layers. Then I need to either learn how to use my camera better for close shots or buy a new printer/scanner, since I think that I totally killed it trying to get a paper jam out. Why won’t it at least let me scan or copy, is what I want to know. If it comes to more shopping, I think that I might buy an Epson this time.

Gah….shopping, shopping, shopping. I just want to stay in the happy room and weave and read and watch my seedlings grow and play on my laptop!