About Me

Life is learning. Life is change. Life is good. Life doesn't have to cost a lot. I want to make my life greener, healthier, and thriftier. And I want to enjoy doing it!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Projects And Updates

Yes, I know it's been longer than usual since my last post.  I could go on about getting caught up in other things, or delayed by events outside my control, but the truth is I just kept putting it off until here I am, a week later than I planned.

It's true that a lot has been going on here  -  some of it good, some not so much.

I'll start with a good thing  -  a finished project.  Yes, a sweater is actually finished!  And here it is:

Please ignore the mess behind it  -  the "get-the-workroom-cleaned-up-and-organized" project is not going as quickly as I'd hoped.  But hey, one finished project is better than none  -  isn't it?  And the second sweater is almost finished; I just have to assemble it and darn a few ends in.  So maybe  -  with luck and hard work  -  more things will get done.

This year's food garden was almost a complete loss, thanks to uncooperative weather and steady rain through almost all of pollination season.  So far we've managed to harvest one stalk of rhubarb, two tomatoes, and a handful of chives.  The apple tree, however, contrived to bloom during the only dry few days we had all spring, and the apple crop was so abundant we were afraid branches would snap from the weight of the apples before we could pick them.  One five-gallon pail at a time, they're coming into the kitchen to be canned as applesauce.  We'd hoped to slice a bushel at least and run them through the dehydrators, until we realized that every one of them has had at least one bite taken out of it by the squirrels.

Every.  Single.  Apple.

You'd think that after the first, oh, hundred or so bites, the furry little buggers would have figured out that all the apples taste the same, but no.  Apparently our squirrels, while handsome and sometimes entertaining, are not very bright.

And the basement project is almost at a standstill through no fault of my own.  Or anyone else's, really ... accidents happen.  It's not my co-worker's fault he had a bicycle accident last weekend.  But because of that, instead of having a week off to really clear out the basement, I was called back into work.  Yes, I'll get the days off some other time ... but probably not until next spring, since we are coming into the busiest / most hellish time of year for my department.

This slows the basement work down rather seriously, since the only time left for it will be weekends, when Big Guy always manages to have something "more important" to do and I can't move the big heavy things that need to be moved without his help.  Why do they need to be moved?  So that our huge old clunky noisy 43 % efficient furnace can be replaced with our new (still in its wrappings in the basement) small quiet 93 % efficient furnace.  I would really love to see that happen before we actually need to turn a furnace on again this fall, but I know if I leave it up to Big Guy it will be at least another year before anything happens.

So my plan of attack has morphed into a plan of sneak attack.  I'll be down there in the evenings clearing out all the small stuff, and on the weekends I'll just cajole him into helping me with just one or two large things at a time.  Wish me luck!

In other news, J has rounded up two potential roommates, and their plan is to find somewhere to rent by the end of October.  We'll miss her, and the move to paying rent will slow down her debt repayment plan, but I can understand her reasoning.  She's working two jobs now, one full-time and one part-time, and the almost-two-hour commute each way is killing her.  She goes to work, comes home, sleeps, and gets up and goes back to work, seven days a week.  Living closer to work will give her a little time to actually have a life.  Maybe even get some laundry done ...

This project has had side effects, of course.  Big Guy is not happy with the last "baby" leaving home, of course.  And all the bins and boxes of her stuff from the basement and the attic will be all over the living room until she makes time to go through them all and do the keep-trash-donate sorting.  But ... the day after the last of her possessions leaves that big sunny front bedroom, I'll be in there with a bucket of paint!  That room will become my new workroom, this little 8-by-11 room will become the den / guest room, and she already knows that if things go south and she has to move back in, she gets the den and not her old room.

Some people have said I'm unnatural, or a bad mother, for actually wanting my nest emptied ... but hey.  She's twenty-six, she has a good education and a good profession (chef) ... it's time.  Time for her to spread her wings in the real world, and time for Big Guy and I to be able to sit back, watch our girls all out on their own and independent, and know that we did a good job as parents making sure they could make it on their own.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Am I Redundant?

I've been doing a lot of blog-surfing this past week  -  not just catching up on old favourites, but following links, googling odd thoughts, looking for more information on anything that looked interesting  -  and I'm amazed at how many bloggers there are who are thinking the same things I am, and doing the same things I am.

Am I redundant? Repetitive?  Am I doing the blogger's version of carrying coal to Newcastle?

I don't believe so.

Everyone does things their own way.  A hundred people may be heading for the same goal but getting there by a hundred different paths.  Or as my grandmother used to say, "There are as many ways to make meatloaf as there are people who make meatloaf."  And none of those ways are wrong.

I've learned a lot from other bloggers.  Not just different methods, but different points of view; sometimes even different reasons for doing the same things.  Some of us are just trying to save money.  Some of us are just trying to save the environment.  Some of us are trying to do both.  Some are all-out do-everything-humanly-possible-and-then-do-more types, while some are chipping away at changing their lifestyles bit by bit.  There are radical one-day total life makeovers, and there are one-thing-at-a-time ease-into-it gradual evolutions.

Now, I don't want to open that old can of worms about whether ends justify means.  But it seems to me lately that I'm seeing a number of bloggers who are surprised that working toward one goal has had effects that spill over into other areas.  And I guess what bothers me is: why didn't they foresee any of that spillover?

Decades ago, I set out to find ways to provide the best possible life for my small daughter that I could with a ridiculously tiny income ... we were so far below the poverty line we couldn't even see how far over our heads it was.  But we managed.  I managed.  We ate healthy and stayed healthy, our home and our clothes were always clean and neat, and we had fun.  To me, it was a serendipitous side benefit that we were living so "lightly on the earth", as the saying goes.  We didn't just recycle  -  which was pretty much unheard-of as such back then  -  we re-re-recycled.  We used and re-used everything until there was nothing left of it to use.  We put out almost no garbage  -  because we couldn't buy anything that would produce garbage.  We shopped at thrift stores (they were called second-hand stores then) and cheap produce markets.  We walked almost everywhere, especially to the library every week.  

And how could living like that not spill over into health and environmental areas?

No money = no junk food = eating fresh healthy food = minimal packaging = minimal trash.
No money = no unnecessary appliances = doing things by hand = less resources used.
No money = walking everywhere = healthy exercise and fresh air.
No money = minimal spending = re-using or buying used = more useable items kept from landfills.


Even so, I've learned a lot from other bloggers  -  about creative ways to save money, to use fewer resources, to make what we have go farther and do more  -  and I hope that maybe someday I'll hear that someone out there learned a little something from me.  If karma works, maybe I'll give someone an "Aha!" moment like the ones I find in other blogs.

Redundant?  Repetitive?  I don't think so.  I'm not just parroting the current "popular wisdom", or following someone else's practices to the letter.  I'm doing what most of the other bloggers I read are doing  -  telling my own story, in my own words, and hoping that something resonates with someone else the way those other bloggers' words often do with me.