buying local, consumerism, voluntary simplicity

Buy Nothing Day today

Occupy Black Friday

If you’ve followed me for a while, and I suspect that there are VERY few of you left from the old days when this blog was mostly about food and voluntary simplicity and anti-consumerism, you know that I’ve celebrated Buy Nothing Day on the day after Thanksgiving even before I knew there was such a thing. I am NOT a shopper. I HATE crowds and traffic. I am, in fact, quite phobic about crowds, enough that I often avoid movies, concerts, plays, and even church because I don’t like sitting closely with a bunch of strangers. Vestiges of agoraphobia. For a long time I was a retail worker and the two days after Thanksgiving were the busiest days of the year. So you better believe that I will be spending the day at home and appreciating the ability to do so.

However, now that I am a member of a local artists’ co-op that desperately needs some sales, I am not pushing Buy Nothing Day today, even though I personally will be buying nothing because I am broke after spending all my money on house repairs and a Kindle Fire this month. I am asking that if you’re out there spending money, consider spending some or all of it with your locally-owned small businesses and restaurants instead of the chain stores and restaurants. I’ve watched so many of my favorite small businesses go down in flames this year. It has been very sad.

If we don’t support our small locally-owned businesses, we soon will not have any choices other than merchandise made in bulk and shipped in from countries who do not treat their workers or their environment with respect. The quality of goods continue to be lowered to meet the corporation’s ever lower prices, forcing us to replace our goods more often (such as this crappy HP laptop which is on its way out and is being replaced by that cheap Kindle Fire) and fill our landfills with more stuff. Our citizens will continue to go on long-term unemployment and pray for compassion to awaken in the hearts of our Congress.

So today, I ask you to either Buy Nothing and enjoy the company of your family and friends and Self, or to buy local if you must.

augggghhhh, coffee pot posts, critters, Local food, voluntary simplicity

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Real life has gotten a lot busier now. Classes begin tomorrow, and the new graduate students came in last week for advising and orientation. I have to say that I’m impressed with them so far. I love my job, as I say often! A large part is due to my co-workers, who have great personalities, compassion, and most importantly, are sane. And I say that with complete seriousness. You haven’t experienced misery until you get stuck in an office with a person with serious negative mental problems.

Speaking of that, on Friday I came home for an early lunch to drive downtown and buy some bread and a cinnamon roll at Simple Kneads, which is closing and its customers were rallying to try to save it at the last minute. Anyway, when I was at home two policemen showed up at my next-door neighbor’s house. This wasn’t very surprising, except that there were two of them, and I slipped inside to give them privacy. But the next day, her neighbor on the other side approached us and said that the sheriff had been there later that day and now he had not seen her outside or heard her, which is very unusual. He finally called her daughter, and it turns out that she was taken to a mental health facility for evaluation. I am glad that her daughter managed to facilitate this, because she was getting progressively worse and we were worried about her.

I just hope that they can keep her and do something to help her, because she doesn’t seem to be able to take care of herself. Her family has tried to “commit” her before and she refused help and was not deemed a danger to herself or others, but really, she is. I am not afraid of her but her state of mind does make me nervous that one day she might harm herself or decide that one of us is possessed by demons and attack somebody – conversations with her support this. Not that she would attack someone, but that demons are very real to her, and she lives in a very dark, sad surreal world.

My colonoscopy had perfect results, yay! Theo’s health problems have been heavy on my mind though. He finally stopped licking and biting himself obsessively only to come down with some sort of respiratory problem. I can’t imagine where he could have picked up a virus so I assume it is allergies. I’ve had cats with much worse physical problems but never a sneezy cat. His eye was watering a lot and he was snuffling and sneezing and I really, really, really did not want to take him back to the vet for a third time this month. A friend on Facebook advised Chlor-trimetron (her vet had advised it for her cat) and so yesterday I gave him a little less than 1/4 pill twice and it did seem to help.

This made me realize just how dusty and covered with cat hair the house has gotten. With my hand problems and a vacuum cleaner that needs repair it got way worse than usual. So we spent a good part of yesterday cleaning the front room down to the bones – moving the furniture out, cleaning the floors, baseboards, walls, and windows. Dusting and cleaning the upholstery. I love our old Victorian pieces of furniture from Sandy’s family, and our little collections of interesting stuff, but my God. Dusting them is a nightmare. It always makes me wish that we had chosen to live in a new house instead of a 1922 Craftsman with plaster walls. These houses seem to generate their own dirt. Sometimes I think about having the whole inside sheetrocked.

One reason why I haven’t written on the blog is that I’m very frustrated about the whole Friends of the GFCM situation (they have disbanded but still have final business to take care of) and so angry with certain people (not in the Friends) to the extent that I no longer want anything to do with the GFCM again. I’m just done. I don’t want to think about them any more. So I’m trying to put a positive spin on this for myself – it will be a new challenge to search out other venues of local food. My friends the Bettinis have a farm stand and the Rudd Farm has a farm stand near them with a lot of different vegetables. I think that I’ll cruise out that way and buy direct, and also check out the state farmers’ market on Sandy Ridge Road for the first time in a very long time. Other farmers that I like have farm stores or stands or other venues too. So it won’t be as consolidated and convenient, but it will be an adventure. I would love to order from Piedmont Local Food, but I don’t want to use their only public pick-up location in Greensboro for reasons of my own.

Sigh. Sometimes this buying ethically philosophy is difficult. I actually had someone admonish me this past week for standing up for my principles instead of “reality.” HA! I’m sure that those of you who know me know that he was barking up the wrong tree.

Today I’m going to finish up the living room – take all the things off the shelves and clean them and the shelves. Yuk. Then I’m going to stitch and work on binding another book. Yay. And I’m moving forward, despite the world around me, I will keep on truckin’.

buying local, consumerism, voluntary simplicity

Buy Nothing Day

Buy Nothing DayIf you’ve known me on the Web for a while, you know that I am an advocate of Buy Nothing Day, which is celebrated in the United States on the day after Thanksgiving. I try to live frugally and make careful choices about what I buy. That means that I have tried to purge those items and activities that I have to come to realize that I only buy or do because I am expected to, not because I need or particularly want them. This is why I have been able to do a lot of traveling and I don’t bitch about the cost of healthy food. I drive an old car when I need to drive, I wear my clothes until they are worn out, and I don’t have a large fancy house, and it is usually a mess because I consider my time and energy more valuable than money. I seldom watch TV anymore and I buy used and handmade items when possible.

Black Friday, so-called because it is the frenzied day that will put some businesses back in the “black,” is a dark day to me because it focuses on what dismays me about this society – our priorities are all about stuff and how to get more money to get more stuff. In fact, we are told that to be patriotic, we must participate in the rampant consumerist mindset of this country. I am not alone in my disgust for this focus on money and stuff during the holidays. I know many others who say that they will not be in the stores on Black Friday. And a few very wise folks turned the tables on Black Friday to make it an official holiday for us who are not consumed by the thought of hitting the sales at 3 a.m.: Buy Nothing Day.

This year, I noticed that another day has been established: Small Business Saturday. That’s a shopping day that I can support. Small businesses are in danger of becoming extinct in this country. If you must shop for the holidays, please consider the positive impact that shopping locally has on your community.

Our family decided a few years ago to not exchange presents for the adults on Christmas, thank God. When I do give gifts, I try to give handmade.

The First Friday Indie Market will be downtown Greensboro again on Dec. 3 from 4-9 pm, in conjunction with Greensboro’s Festival of Lights. You’ll find lots of unusual and beautiful gifts at the market and in the shops on Elm St. Please save the money that you would have spent on Buy Nothing Day, and bring it to downtown Greensboro on December 3rd!

coffee pot posts, consumerism, voluntary simplicity

Saturday morning coffee pot post part deux

But Will It Make You Happy?

On the bright side, the practices that consumers have adopted in response to the economic crisis ultimately could — as a raft of new research suggests — make them happier. New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects, when they relish what they plan to buy long before they buy it, and when they stop trying to outdo the Joneses.

This was a very timely article in the New York Times, considering the new mattress and refrigerator that I have craved and really needed for so long and bought just this week. I spent a pile of money, but I’ll pay it off in one or two months from my savings, since I try very hard not to carry any credit card debt.

And it is a nice segueway into my other pieces of life this week. A little over a year ago I wrote this post about how I planned to live out my life. And I’ve held myself true to it. I wring out all the goodness I can out of this life, although it has not been as easy as I would have hoped this past year or so. Regarding the statement from the article above, it is possible that I spend a little too much time anticipating the future rather than living in the present moment, but so be it! I’m pretty happy, happier than many people, I think. Much, much happier than I used to be.

I signed up for Albie’s class at An Artful Journey in Los Gatos, California in February 2011. I’ll be able to spend three whole days working with her at a beautiful retreat in the redwoods. This is a done deal. The first night there I will be celebrating my 50th birthday!

And I signed up for Art & Soul Hampton again in early May 2011, although I’m just going for the weekend this time. I wasn’t planning to, since the Embassy Suites screwed up my billing so bad the last trip and staying there is expensive. But I’ll see if I can find a cheap hotel nearby for two nights, drive up on Friday night and come home on Sunday. It is a terrible time for me to take off work, and there is almost always a family reunion that weekend. Still, I really wanted to take this class and this class, and since it is within driving distance and I won’t miss work, I decided to go ahead and do it!

Because anticipation is spicy and juicy and keeps my energy and hope alive!

Oh, there were other things that went on this week that I was going to write about, but writing this made me want to get up off my butt and do something else.

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.