Wednesday, June 18, 2008

This has been hanging fire for a while.  I started it on the date listed on the post--the 16th, I think.  It is now the 27th.  The last three weeks have been hell on any routine.  I am really tired of the political scene.  I was getting sick of it before Senator Clinton 'suspended' her campaign and the feeling has only intensified since.  Medical appointments have thrown any typical schedules into chaos.  And the house cleaning spirit has finally moved us to a major reorganization of our living room.  The spirit doesn't move often but when it does it is best to answer the call.  As a result we did little for a day and a half except clean and rearrange furniture.  We still aren't done because two small and empty bookcases are still in the kitchen waiting for a relative to remember to come and get them.  We started off with, I think, 19 book cases when we moved in almost ten years ago.  We now have 12.  It has been a long process of paring down and getting rid of various things.

Let me see if, after all this time I can remember what I was going to say about the following sites I visited recently.

 Jeneflower has an interesting problem-- 'green burnout.'  I can relate to it somewhat. She feels overwhelmed by the struggle to live a green lifestyle.  She is caught between her children who want to go out for a burger and be like other kids whose parents are not so particular and desperately wanting to do even more to achieve her goals of sustainable and green living. I think a major difficulty is balancing good intentions with a common sense recognition of limitations.  I can't implement many of the suggestions I read simply because of my situation.  I can't grow very much of my own vegetables because I live in a rented unit and have only a 12x12 slab of fenced in concrete behind my house.  I do what I can with pots and look forward to my own home-grown tomatoes soon.  We limit our driving, our air-conditioning, and heating.  We have started cutting the power to our tv/vcr/cable box and our computers at night. Simplegreenworld provides a nice solution to the doldrums of green burnout: list all the things you are doing to accomplish your goals of living greener, more simply, what ever.  I looked at the list and saw many of the things I have started doing and noticed several that are stumbling blocks for me as well. 

Take a look at this new tomdispatch post.  I remember a little about the North Korean famine of the 1990s.  Very little because there was very little information available through the news.  Most of what I saw focused on the draconian measures the autocratic, authoritarian, repressive and Communist government took to meet the crisis.  Often the stories implied that the government directly caused the crisis.  Instead, this author indicates that the crisis was caused by a confluence of environmental, agricultural, and climate conditions and that the North Koreans were 'the canary in the mine.'  It is worth thinking about.

I have seen this article on several blogs.  The project is interesting and reminiscent of some stories about urban gardening and 'guerilla gardening' I have seen recently.  I looked for community gardens locally but haven't found any yet.  

There are times when the various bloggers converge on issues.  Another new tomdispatch post looks at attempts to renew uranium mining in the west, a theme that has come up frequently on Native Unity.  I wonder how many others are as concerned and skeptical about Senator McCain's proposal to build 45 new nuclear power plants.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My normal schedule has been put badly out of kilter this last week and probably the one to come will be out of whack as well.  I think the weather may have affected our computer service because Saturday and part of Sunday it was so incredibly slow it was frustrating just to try to read e-mail.  We do our grocery shopping on Monday's and don't do as much on the computer as we otherwise would.  But this week and next we also have medical appointments and had to take Mom's car in for repair when the window motor decided it no longer wanted to work.  I am just beginning to catch up with my news and blog sites.   On the shopping front, we decided patronize the local Wal-Mart Supercenter since we needed a couple of things from the garden center and we were looking for new drapes to replace the pair in our bedroom.  Might as well do it all at once and check out the prices at the same time.  Our assessment--We would not save any money by going to Wal-Mart.  Only a few items were cheaper than those at our much closer supermarket and those were more than counter-balanced by the more expensive items.  Worse they did not have the kind of drapes we wanted.  We also noticed a definite reduction in the variety of items at Wal-Mart.  Interestingly an American living in Japan looks at a similar scene somewhat differently.  I guess it really is a matter of perspective.

I have been thinking for several years now about sustainable living and frugality.  This Australian Mom makes points that reflect my thinking on much of this.  I have described our society as 'gluttonous.'  I think there were good reasons why gluttony was one of the seven deadly sins.  It is wasteful when people consume more than they need.  Gluttonous consumption encourages envy in those who cannot consume on a gluttonous scale and envy was another of the deadly sins.  It is also thoughtless.  We don't really think about what it is we are consuming.  Instead of condemning the sin of gluttony our society/economy encourages it.  We are constantly exhorted to buy.  After 9/11 spending became synonymous with patriotism.  Breaking the mind sets and habits of gluttonous consumption are hard.  We are making a start.  We try to remember to cut the power to the computers and the tv.  We don't use the air conditioning much unless the outside temperatures hit the mid 90s or higher.  In the winter we keep the thermostat at 70 because that makes the average temperature in our apartment around 68.  We figure that we can put on a sweater or use one of our lap blankets if we get too cold.  Our trips by car have been consolidated and are absolutely necessary.  I like reading blogs on sustainability and frugality because they encourage me and give me ideas.

Are we in a recession or are we not?  According to the news last night some 'experts' think not.  I have long been bewildered by the disparity between my experience and perceptions and the economic news.  For several years now Mom and I have watched as companies laid off thousands of highly paid workers but the unemployment rate barely bobbled and wondered where those workers found new jobs and at what pay.  We watched the latest news about job cuts at Ford and wondered why the news readers didn't also note that Ford is opening a new plant in Mexico with 4000+ jobs for Mexican workers.  Often we saw the stocks of companies announcing job cuts bounce much higher on the news so someone benefitted but definitely not those whose jobs were eliminated.  Over the years we had our own economic indicators which seemed to be at odds with the official ones.  For several months a couple of years ago, just when the gas prices spiked the last time, I had a second job at a little gas station.  The last month I worked there, when prices were highest, I had four drive-off thefts on my shift.  I know there were more from the talk of my fellow workers and the boss.  We hadn't had one in the previous five months.  During that time I also worked at a small party supply store.  I had that job for nearly three years and during the first two we had no noticeable theft and no returned checks.  That last year however we had several large checks returned for insufficient funds.  My former boss told me that she was finally able to collect on the biggest one more than a year after the store closed and 18 months after it was passed.  Not only did we have an increase in outright theft but a number of incidents of vandalism--as though the thief didn't really want the item but damaged it so that no one else would buy it.  This blogger has noticed a similar pattern.  And here is another story to emphasize this sign of the times.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

This post reminded me of one of the downsides to working for someone else. Your schedule is always controlled by someone else. I have never found a good carry-in meal. I don't like warm sandwiches and wilted lettuce. The employer may or may not offer a break room with microwave and fridge. More often my employers had vending machines for us. I can't count the number of times I finally got a late break and was so hungry I went for what ever was handy regardless of cost and nutrition. Or finally got off work and was so hungry I stopped at the nearest fast food joint. The cost wasn't the only draw back. I have always gained weight no matter what job I had. The more boring the job, the worse the weight gain.

I ran across this post and debated a bit before I decided to comment. As I read it I asked myself the same question I asked when I read posts about the mining company that wants to exploit a rich vein of gold that happens to be under a mountain that is sacred to the Western Shoshone and pollute the local stream with its waste. Or the mining company that wants to drill test cores for uranium in the Grand Canyon and on public lands adjacent to the Navajo lands in the southwest. Or the mining company that plans to lop the top of a mountain to get at the coal and dump the rubble in the adjacent valley. When do the environmental effects of our 'harvesting' mineral resources outstrip the value of the resources acquired? Unfortunately we have never found a way of valuing the birds, the streams, the land, or the air so a reasonable comparison can be made. And we have a long history of companies harvesting the resources and leaving the mess for others to clean up, maybe.

Mom and I were admiring our tomato plants. I showed her the blossoms coming out--a lot of blossoms. We are so looking forward to tomatoes that will have some flavor. The first ones will be taken green and fried. Yummm!!! Mom remarked in passing that we won't have to worry about salmonella. So right about that!!

This blog entry features a couple of thoughts that have come to me frequently of late. I have used the embroidery features on my sewing machine. I have drooled over the computerized machines and their embroidery capabilities. But, on reflection, I find I have no real desire to use acquire one of those machines or even to use my own machines features very much. I enjoy the hand work. I love the feeling I get when the embroidery turns out as or better than I thought it would. I will leave the machine work to others who enjoy it as much as I enjoy the hand work. I also think it sad that we equate efficiency with machines, speed, and the increased number of things done to the point that mechanization has become an unquestioned good. At the same time all hand work has taken on the aura of drudgery to be avoided.  Most of the jobs I have had provided little in the way of aesthetic satisfaction (and often almost as little in financial joy) so my needlework feed my soul.  Doing it by hand yields, for me, the most pleasure.