November, where have you gone?

I’m finally nearing the end of two months of constant busyness (I hope), and my December calendar is beautifully clear (in comparison), which hopefully will mean more frequent blog posts and writing in general.  All of my journals have been feeling empty these days…

In the meantime, a brief update on a number of things I’ve written about before:

  • I did not do NaNoWriMo.  This was a good decision.  I still want to write a book though, at some point in the future.  It will likely be about the home search, or something like it.
  • I am enormously thankful for many things, among them: wonderful friends that will both attend my crazy parties and entertain my wild musings, access to delicious local food and a system that supports its continued expansion, the health that comes from the latter as well as bicycling every day, and my wonderful Benjamin– we really do balance each other beautifully.
  • Yesterday was a glorious and much needed relaxation day.  Apart from shopping at the co-op for tons of fruits and veggies- I’m doing a cleanse between Thanksgiving and Christmas, sort of a combination of this and this– I napped, went on a walk, finished The Heretics of Dune (the marvelous fifth book in the Dune series) and watched Pirate Radio, now my most recent favorite movie.

Be good to yourselves this holiday season, friends.  Drink tea, visit with friends, and relax into the naturally slower rhythms that winter brings.

Visions of sugarplums, or sugar beets more like.

Giving up is easy.  Becoming jaded, disillusioned, very nearly bored with the relentless march of our screwed up systems toward self-annihilation, it’s easy.  Persisting in change, however, is not.  Remaining optimistic, idealistic, dare I say HOPEFUL, is not so easy.  But to persist is to live, and those who provide a reason to persist, particularly without intending to do so, are valuable beyond recognition.

So you can imagine my heart’s gladness when I read my dear friend Caleb’s thoughts on Occupy and my being responded with a resounding YES.  YES I want to create.  YES I want to grow.  YES I want to be part of imagining and building a newbettermoresustainableandjoyful world.

His whole piece resonated with me, and many of the system criticisms, from food to politics to banks, are questions I myself have asked, wondering at how there is a person left on the planet that feels like things are going well.  Our systems aren’t working!  Capitalism is failing the majority of citizens!  We don’t have accountability, for corporations or politicians, and yet we give an inordinate amount of power to both of these sectors!  As Jess Zimmerman writes for Grist, “combating climate change will mean overhauling the free market economy and contracting the corporate sector, and people whose livelihoods depend on big business have a reason to be afraid.”  Those who have managed to suppress their conscience enough to make their way to the top of this inherently unstable and immoral food chain (an incredibly disproportionate number of straight white males, to boot) should expect to be challenged, and eventually to relinquish their stranglehold over the livelihood of the populace.

But it is not the criticisms that really got me going.  It was Caleb’s vision of the future, a co-created, human scale future.  A future of community and beauty, where work is play and we have not given up on our own lives.  Where the world is Our World, a place where we have stopped artificially segmenting our lives, our relationships, our homes from our workplaces from our parks from our play places.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Wonder is essential in this future vision, a wonder that manifests itself in curiosity, and eventually a drive to create something magnificent.  It is not duty or responsibility alone that will create the new.  It is through longing for a better world coupled with a sharp vision of how we might get there that we will persist, that we will truly live.

To not give up, that is the first challenge.  And to illumine our place in the vision, that is the second.  In the last few weeks Ben and I have committed to finding and purchasing a house without succumbing to the system, instead remaining true to our values of simplicity and human and earth sustainability.  We will find our home through building relationships, through moving into opportunity as it comes while practically examining our personal realities.  I have also personally committed to examine my work, my vocation, and to do the best where I am while honing in on where my passions meet the world’s need.

More concretely: we will have self-declared hours of creativity, to write or play music or paint or cook or whatever.  Once we have a house we will have a garden of food, medicinal herbs, and native plants to support bees; a bike building and maintenance area; monthly potlucks and intellectual salons; safe space for both conversation and quiet; a root cellar in the basement and crafting space in the attic.  Most importantly, we will invite others to join us.

I am idealistic, I know.  I have been berated for it at times, celebrated for it at others.  But what better way to live in the world than in hope, a critical hope that opts out of that which is failing and builds something better?

Bulk is Beautiful

Lists on ‘ways to be green’ don’t really phase me anymore- I often find that the sustainability geeks I know are already doing many of the listed suggestions, and that some of the list frequently borders on condescending in its ease.  Use a cloth bag at the grocery store.  Put in a CFL!  However, until our society is more open to considering more substantial lifestyle changes like No Impact Man and RowdyKittens, lists of how to be green are a manageable tool to encourage the individuals toward an intentional lifestyle.

So today I share with you one of my favorite accomplishable, non-condescending ‘green’ actions: buying in bulk.

It’s a pleasant challenge for me to limit myself to grocery shopping for almost solely bulk items.  And it’s cheaper!  Above is my recent $30 shopping trip at the Co-op, which includes eggs, caraway seeds, white flour, wheat flour, granola, honey, maple syrup, sugar, oats, lentils, and two cans of coconut milk that weren’t on my shopping list, but were on sale.

Bulk shopping takes a bit of forethought to be sure- one has to collect the jars and tupperware needed for various items, or use a whole bunch of plastic at the store.  There is something deeply satisfying about the lack of packaging though, and it’s almost impossible to end up with things you won’t use with bulk because most items are 1. preserved already (often they’re dry) and 2. take more time to throw into one’s shopping cart, so picking something up off the shelves absentmindedly doesn’t really happen.

The lineup of jars filled with grains, legumes, spices, and baking supplies is lovely too, particularly when coupled with fresh veggies from the garden.

(the last of my garden’s produce- purple dragon carrots)

Bulk: try it, you’ll like it!