Monday, April 27, 2009

some thoughts

I get my second-to-last paycheck of this school year tomorrow. After I spend what I need to on the necessary bills, I'm not allowing myself any extraneous expenses beyond some minor fun when my best friend comes to town. especially as i don't seem to be subletting my apartment. that is not fun. i plan on knitting, finishing up my albums, and continuing with yoga and resuming my near-daily miles long park walks. and cooking simply, recipes will be shelved for a bit in lieu of simpler, yet still hearty, fare. it's getting back to simple rice/beans/cold grains salad/raw fruit and veg time ... and i'm embracing it.

my time in lexington is winding down. i love being at the school here, nearly exactly how i want my classroom to be run. what an inspiration. the children and the teacher and everyone who works there? lovely, lovely, lovely. i've been working at it (well, mostly the book i want to finish up by tomorrow night) diligently, with the result that time is literally flying.

i have plenty of money ready to go for the summer, but i'm waiting for one last much-needed pop of financial aid money to kick in .... and then i'm going to start challenging myself to save money. i want to finally start building an emergency fund (sure would help for future apartment sublets, i tell ya!), and a regular savings that for the forseeable future will be for a much better rental than the one i have now. yes, i think i'll be moving once more before buying ... that is if i stay in louisville. if things here don't work out, i'll probably rent in new england.

the weather here is gorgeous and i'm looking forward to a quick last two weeks of school, followed by three weeks of SLOW fun before eight weeks of school ... and then hopefully a tiny post-training retreat at a KY bed and breakfast on a working organic farm!

be well out there and send us positive energy during this time of trial for our nation (i'm sure you all know the few things i'm thinking of here, i won't be repetitive).



Friday, April 24, 2009

here's to ... this posting without a kickoff!

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."


So, I've been very scattered with the blog reading/posting lately, sorry for that. mainly due to frustrations at home with the internet (i think i need a new router, do they come with passwords? i have broadband service but the wireless doesn't annoying), and to the fact that every time i tried to stay on blogger, i was getting an error message that "internet explorer needs to close" oh, no you don't!! well, i downloaded mozilla firefox and hopefully that will work.

anyway, my thinking is i'll be scattered a little longer due to being here in lexington in montessori-land.

this is from the school i work at, not the one i'm currently going to to observe ...

i'm literally breathing, sleeping, eating it. days spent observing at the school i love, afternoons spent reading (passed a very pleasant two hours today here by a coi (spelling?) fish pond) Montessori books, and nights spent completing assignments .... Then when I get back to Louisville next Friday I'll have to settle back into things for two weeks, before my best friend arrives for a week! I am very excited that she has decided we should do "simple life things" and just basically relax when she's here. (Yes, this is why she's my best friend, who just wants to do "simple life things" on vacation? yipeee!!)the loose plan is to drive out to a farm or two for the pretty kentucky scenery, cook up a storm in my kitchen, hit the farmer's market, have dinner at the nonprofit vegetarian asian restaurant and tea at its neighboring tea house, take scenic walks, and have her meet my friends .... i'm actually looking forward to not have to feel like we have to cram every tiny thing in (you know how it is when visitors come to your city, and you're exhausted when they leave 'cause you haven't been living your real life either, rather some surreal touristy version of i live here but suddenly i'm spending money everywhere....ugh. the idea of spending turns me off more and more ... which is good by the way but a slow process. ugh. yes, sometimes i get frustrated with the wait for my AHA! moment of JUST DO IT. but in the meantime ... i have made positive steps ....)

so on that topic change, here are two things i've been thinking about as i drive through the rape of once-farmland-now-car-dealerships-and-warehouse-type-chain stores these past days: 1. living without a cell phone contract for one year, and paying the money instead into savings. i'd still have a cell phone, but it'd be for the occasional long parental call, and quick meeting up with people calls/texts. Or emergencies, of course. 2. try not using any chain "all purpose" store -- my vice is TARGET -- for one year. at all, as in not even stepping foot inside their doors. this one will be tough. for some reason, myself and many others i know can eschew wal-mart wholeheartedly (i get sick within a 1/4 mi. radius of the place), target, because it's somehow marketed itself via brainwashing of some sort as a "better" place (for sure i never feel sick or overwhelmed in there, but there's definitely something to that "i went there for one thing and i wound up with 10" phenomenon). i wonder, can we live without using chain stores anymore? my biggest thing will be where to get stuff like toilet paper and lightbulbs, luckily for the latter i'm mostly all on to CFLB's right now, which last years, but tp ... well what's the option? another chain? kroger? walgreens? that may be a challenge. i mean, i could go to those places because i'm only saying no target, but they're essentially the same thing, aren't they? i know they sell tp at the local grocery shops/health food stores, but it's just not economical. i never see it in bulk. ....

... well these are why these things are just thoughts. isn't it frightening how these things have embedded themselves (cell phones and chain stores) so thoroughly into our consciousness that we're afraid to "take the plunge" and be "lost" without them? i'm not against all technology, though i refuse to buy cable television (have you seen what's on it these last few years, and what those ugly dishes do to an otherwise pretty home?) or own a microwave. i love the internet for how it can bring people together/be a learning tool/etc. but when i start seeing people change phones, "personal assistants" (whatever happened to scrap paper/pencil?)), and loading up at target all as often as they change their underwear (probably bought at a chain store), yes, it's worrisome to me. it's worrisome as well when chain stores look at me like i have five heads when i say i don't want a bag (no damned plastic bag, what is so hard to see, garrrrr....). and the fact that they tout reusable bags but keep the plastic ones ....

anyway, enough rambling. i'd love to hear your thoughts. it's funny, my consumerism got the best of me the other day. i was driving by plato's closet here in lexington, a store i wanted to go in last time i was here but didn't. i wound up spending $50 on clothes. granted, they're all secondhand, but really karen? really? i HAVE way too many clothes already. And the worst part was, I passed close to goodwill on the way back to where i'm staying and it was all i could do to restrain myself from going in. But I was mad enough at myself for spending the $50 that would have been much better spent toward forwarding my simple life goals. which i really need to write down, as someone (frugal trenches?) recently suggested. where do i want to be in a few years, and how can i start getting there NOW? see, i might be eschewing the shopping mall and wal-mart and best buy, but consumerism still drags its sharp fingernails down my back from time to time, when i'm least expecting it to happen. but what can i do? fight it? or remain positive and rather than punishing my indiscretion (well you can't do this and this and this then since you wasted it here), i just learn from the negative feelings it created within me. i don't want to feel those again. so the next time, i'll remember that and hopefully it will be enough to stop me in my tracks when i'm tempted. after all that's what happened just then with the second store, right?

i'm sure many of you striving to lead a simpler life have gone through many of these same inner conflicts. i'd like to hear about them in the comments, if you have a little time. in the meantime, enjoy these pictures i've been meaning to post but couldn't:

this was part of the veg sushi-making night, and those are some of my friends. Maya, the girl with the orange skirt ... her boyfriend matt was the one who directed my attention to the "secret compost pile" (remind me to show it to you, sarah! for the rest of you, i'll try to photograph it sometime soon)

mmm veggie sushi ...

the beginnings of my compost pile in an old brita filter (who wants their water filtered through plastic? ewww) -- it's now full and needing to be dumped. but first, i brought it to school and explained the idea of composting to all three classes. now, if only i had an explanation for "how does it turn into dirt?" .... suitable for the 3-6 age. lol.

a gift of knitting i finished recently (currently working on two very simple projects for a birthday present ...)

the farmer's market still had some of this very nice afterglow coffee left ... lol

farmer's market goodness on recent saturday

a new friend i made last week ... incentive to wait for the bus more often, maybe?

here are the brussels sprouts i recently blogged about, along with my AMAZING homemade french fries with vegenaise.

my plate, filled with goodness from the last Earthsave Louisville potluck. what an amazing evening that was. May 9 can't come fast enough for the next one! that's my bread with the carrot/cashew spread on it(glad you liked it josh, did you actually make it?)

recent brief power outage kitty ... i was enjoying reading by candelight

no power? no problem! carrot/cashew spread and homemade bread, coming right up, thanks to my beautiful gas oven! (we won't mention that the bread wasn't quite done when i took it out, and then i couldn't get the oven started again till next morning, and then it overcooked because it had dried out ... oh, well. let's hope the loaf i froze is soft once thawed....)

Peace, all. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.



Sunday, April 19, 2009

long and contemplative

Those are the brussels sprouts I blogged about the other day. I have tons more recent pictures to post, but lately every time I try, my Internet shuts down. I'm hoping this won't happen when I'm in Lexington over the next week and a half (I leave Tuesday night, I'm so very excited to stay at my friend's quiet log cabin again...what a great place to just sit outdoors with a book and read!) .. that's when I'll try to update it all for you, the way it should be (no pun intended lol.

Anyhow ... I've recently been setting some forward-looking goals for myself. Here's what I'm planning come September. Not that we should plan too far ahead of ourselves, but it's good to have "intentions," as I call them.

*making breakfasts ahead at the beginning of a week, because I'll have to leave for school an hour and a half earlier. I'm thinking, chopped up fresh fruit, cranberry/walnut scones with flax or germ added, and occasionally hard-boiled eggs.

*having one car-free day a week. I've recently, due to some minor car trouble, become acquainted with the bus routes to and from my house. It's not too bad, except I don't have times down yet so the waiting is sometimes long. I have patience, though.

*Volunteering with some type of farming/gardening work (yep, still haven't quite found it yet) ... and also possibly for an organization called Stone Soup, which works in one of the poorest areas of town and whose slogan is "creating community through cooking." okay!

*sewing, getting the machine from my dad that he has to give me and somehow learning the craft ...

Next spring, I'm planning to start looking for a place to move into by June. I want hardwood floors, two bedrooms (one for a craft studio!! yay!!), maybe a nook for books/reading corner, large sunny windows, and a space, even if its small, to experiment with some gardening. I'm looking for an older home to rent for the next two years that I'll definitely be in Louisville.

I'm pleased with how I'm doing on my New Year's intentions. Let's review:

The Partylite idea didn't quite work out, thanks to a crashing economy. But I did begin tutoring instead. That lasted briefly, but I do still babysit for extra income. I'm being a bit lazy about selling some things I think I could get rid of on eBay, but I'll get to that point, too. There's not an extra income scheme that would be as good as Partylite that's yet crossed my path, nor am I sure I want it to. I'm thinking of ways to work within what I already make, such as giving up my cell phone contract for a year (I think I'd still have a cell phone, for quick calls to meet up with people, emergencies, etc.), which I can do at the end of August. Also I'm going to make some very simple meals for a while, and kind of cut down on the experimenting with recipes. I went a little overboard on that for the first few months of the year ... not that I'm complaining, I found some great new favorites! But part of living simply is living that way within the framework of what's already available to you. I don't want to add more stress to my life by picking up "second work" that's overly taxing/demanding. I don't want to be on someone else's schedule. So I just need to continue to be creative and focus on what's truly important, regardless of what others do/think. This isn't always easy. I'm finding that simple living is not so much a struggle to "achieve" as it is a gradual pecking away at the hard shell we've grown complacent in for so long. Some days we falter, we get tired of the pecking and give in. But ultimately, we arrive, into the daylight, into the "new world," so to speak. We must enjoy each peck for the huge milestone it really does indicate.

On this topic a little more deeply, I went to Louisville's annual Derby kickoff festival - Thunder over Louisville, airshow and fireworks event - yesterday. And was reminded that most people really don't live the way that we all strive to. I'm not saying I didn't have fun on my picnic blanket all day, finishing up Anne of Avonlea and knitting and eating delicious goodness out of my wicker picnic basket. But I was saddened, when I looked at what some people were wearing and the volume and pace at which many of them spoke, when i saw drunk people fighting (no one was supposed to bring alcohol to the family event), and most especially when I saw all the TRASH strewn about the place ... not just remnants of the fried food they had for sale, but numerous plastic forks, cups, styrofoam containers. People couldn't be bothered to take proper care with their trash, especially being so close to the Ohio River (right on its banks, more or less).

I'm not sure where i was going with that, except to say it's not always easy to walk the other way when you're getting trampled by the herd. but we must keep on keeping on.

As far as my other New Year's intentions go, I've plowed my way through two wonderful books, and plan on counting The Omnivore's Dilemma as one of the six books I've set for myself to read, because I've read all but the last third, it's taken me forever, but it's on my "reading now" list again. What a mission it feels like to get through it! An excellent, informative read, but very slow reading indeed. I'm also currently on the Anne books again. I'm going to take a break before Book 3 to read Chronicles of Avonlea. After all this, I'm probably going to read (don't laugh) Twilight. And then ... (you CAN sigh relief here) ... I'm going to attack my classics shelf!

My farming/gardening volunteer intention is still a work-in-progress. I'm still doing networking, mainly, in this area. Will keep you updated as things progress and I find my niche.

I DID get the yoga membership I'd wanted, and I now go two to three times a week. It's been amazing what this has done for my health and anxiety. What a beautiful practice I now have. Namaste.

I HAVE gone more vegan. I only buy cheese for special occasions, or eat it where there's free samples somewhere. Some of the very few sauces I still have on stockpile do have milk products in them. I recently tried, and hated, a vegan cheese ... but I give myself kudos for sticking with it for a bit. I think if I go vegan someday, and I don't see it happening completely in the near future (i heart eggs and that's okay), I'll just skip those alternatives. I wanted my emphasis to be on eating more grains and fruits/vegs. I've done pretty well with this so far ... but of course I could do better.

I have *not* yet become more of a morning person, but neither have I put my best efforts forward on this one yet. This is a tough intention to have, but I made it because I really do want it ... however you'd never know it from my bad habits re-emerging as of late (waking up 20 min before I need to leave, hitting the bagel shop ... oy vey.).

haven't done any knitting for charity yet ... but did finish two gifts that should be sent off to their recipients soon! so half that intention is golden so far.

become lots closer to two KY friends: well, yes, I've become closer to three, actually!

i wanted to walk/swim a few times a week. i do walk quite a bit. haven't gotten to the swimming yet.

a letter/card to my soldier friend in Afghanistan once a week? Check. I've been a good friend. and i do send him a package at least once a month.

finish Montessori albums? er ... not quite yet.

debt-free from CC's by New Year's 2010 ... i have no doubt i'll do this, barring any emergencies.

no new clothes, or books. er.....................
ordering apps and side dishes not entrees at restaurants. er ............ well in my defense i usually hit up indian food (cheap and you get a ton) or the taco place near my house ...

and on my secret vow, well, so far, so good.

I guess that overall, 2009 is progressing well. I've started composting, and hope to get those pictures up for you soon, as well. I really need to get my Internet issues sorted out. Do any of you ever have trouble connecting to your wireless? I'm thinking my router is just maybe outdated. Of course, I'll call the company soon, when I feel up to it. I also plan on making some homemade cleaners before I go away for the summer.

Have a good week everyone.



p.s. I read a very beautiful thing last night in my "A Simple Life" book by Charles Wagner, and I'd like to share it. It's actually from someone called Camille Lemonnier: (imagine, written in 1904!)

"Nature has given to the fingers of woman a charming art, which she knows by instinct, and which is peculiarly her own - as silk to the worm, and lace-work to the swift and subtle spider. ... All the talent she expends in her effort to equal man in the other arts, is never worth the spirit and conception wrought out through a bit of stuff in her skillful hands. Well, I wish that this art were more honored than it is. As education should consist in thinking with one's mind, feeling with one's heart, expressing the little personalities of the inmost, invisible I - which on the contrary are repressed, leveled down by conformity - I would that the young girl in her novitiate of womanhood, the future mother, might early become the little exponent of this art of the toilet, her own dressmaker in short - she who one day shall make the dresses of her children. ... The dress you have made for yourself is almost always the most becoming, and, however that may be, is the one that pleases you most. Women of leisure too often forget this. ... Has anything more surely the gift to please than the fresh apparition of a young working girl or a daughter of the fields, wearing the costume of her country, and beautiful from her simplicity alone?

I will share much more from that lovely little book in future ... :-)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

technical difficulties, bear with me.

bear with me ... i've been trying since sunday to update my blog but i keep getting kicked off the internet every time i try to load a picture ... gar......



** ******************* okay, my new post appears below this one! please read!**************************************************************************

Sunday, April 12, 2009

not al the pictures are here, but the heart's content

Hello, everyone!

It's been an interesting set of days lately. Following this short post will be a little pictorial about what's in my viewfinder lately, what's crossing my path.

I went to the Earthsave Louisville monthly potluck last night, which i'm happy to say was a very inspirational success -- and my homemade bread and carrot/cashew spread went over very well. I met some exciting new people in the food education/activism arena and have some new ideas on where to stick my head next ... if you recall, i'm still trying to find a foothold in this area which i'm very passionate about. I also learned about the magic of biodynamic farming! What an amazing concept, that less than 1/4 bag of transformed-into-humus cow manure stuffed into a cow horn can fertilize over FOUR ACRES of farmland! Phenonmenal work the Foxhollow Farm is doing.

I'm going to soon bid farewell to two friends, one of whom has introduced me, in some way or other, to virtually everyone I know/am getting to know here. I'm learning to be okay with it, as I think I'm going to be okay on my own here now that I have this community surrounding me, containing many that I can call upon for fun, networking, support, making change, and more.

I'm working on getting more consistent sleep hours on a regular basis.

I'm going to read about compost, and hopefully do some compost piling up/dumping before I leave for my summer in St. Louis.

here's what it's been around here lately:

I'll try and post more pictures soon if I can, but I'm just anxious to have an update post put out ... it's now Tuesday ... seems I can do everything on the Internet but upload pictures. uh ... okay.

So tonight I made the MOST DELICIOUS item, but I can't take credit for it. It's my friend Jess's idea. Take some brussels sprouts, cut them in half, saute for a while in some sesame oil, red pepper flakes (i didn't have any and used some old hot chili oil i had), tamari, black pepper, sliced thin garlic, onion, and walnuts. holy holy YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMy!!! where in heavens did brussels sprouts get their bad name?

i also have learned the art of making french fries from -- gasp!! -- actual potatoes, cut in strips with the skin left on. place on foiled cookie sheet, with tons of olive oil and a little less sea salt sprinkled on. put in 400 degree oven (450 for people with normal ovens, i believe) and bake 15 minutes. flip, drizzle with more oil, and cook for 10 more. YUM!! (especially drowned in veganaise, oh my...)

so yeah. dinner was amazing. we had a power outage last night due to some strong lightning in the area. kind of made me want to read by candlelight, every night ... hm. food for thought, i guess. luckily all my frozen/refrigerated food made it okay, as the outage was only for two hours. the funny thing was, the house went black, but there were the carrots on my gas stove for the carrot/cashew spread, simmering away over their blue flame, and i could smell my bread still baking in the oven!! haha.

things are pretty good here, despite some chilly/rainy weather. being happy being on my own again, i was kind of caught up in some guy-maybe stuff that seems to have passed like many of these thunderclouds. that's okay. i can wait for the right one, thank you very much! and be happy in the process!

i should be finishing three cups of tea tonight and moving into finishing the anne of green gables series. thank goodness for reading. i took a long walk around my neighborhood last night as the darkness fell, and realized how much i hadn't missed t.v. once i'd decided to just stop watching it cold turkey a few years ago. i don't know what made me think of it. maybe just enjoying the simplicity of a walk, and coming home to finish baking bread and getting lost in a good book. really, besides some knitting, is there anything more gratifying?

be well out there, friends. i'll try and get the rest of my recent pictures up soon.

love and peace,


Monday, April 6, 2009

i can compost! i can compost!

I have a "secret* new place to dump compost now!! I am so over the moon about it!! Just a short walk down my street, take a left, up a dirt alley to the right and down another dirt alley to the left and ... bada bing!! compost pile, straw, tools. i'm also free to take whatever soil from it i may need for gardening, when i get that opportunity.

i'll post photos of said place, too. now to think how to store the rotting scraps in my apartment ... oh, i'm so excited!!!

now, if only i could move into a two-bedroom apartment with hardwood floors and large sunny windows and some outdoor access for gardening ... well, that may happen within the next one two two years, as well.

one step at a time.

i'm off to marinate some tofu, heather-style: tamari, garlic, olive oil, maple syrup. and read the last quarter of Three Cups of Tea. What a GREAT, inspiring book. The Central Asia Institute is now on my donations list!! I love you, Greg Mortenson.

Happy week, everyone. It's back to work for me. Hopefully near-daily yoga will get me through it peacefully.



this week's baking/cooking plans: vegetable stew, homemade veg sausage/mushroom pasta sauce, 2 loaves of bread, carrot/cashew spread. we'll see if i get it all. i have to make something for a community potluck saturday, as well. hm.........

Saturday, April 4, 2009

love, an antidote to violence ... if it's actually practiced.

I just wanted to pop in quick after hearing about yet another devastating gun violence story out of NY, the very city where one of my ex-boyfriends had an internship not too long ago. This is just the latest in yet another string of devastating, random, senseless gun violence in this country. I'm so tired of it. And I could get all on my soapbox about needing to modify the constitution's gun clause, etc. But I won't. Because it won't solve the root of the problem, and that root is not so much the guns, it's the missing love from people's lives. At the risk of sounding "all new age and hippie," I'm pleading with all of you to please do something kind for someone else. Not today, not tomorrow, but EVERY day in your life, you can find even a tiny opportunity to help someone have a better day, something as simple as saying "can i help you with that?" when you see someone drop something, or struggling, or even just a pleasant "thank you" while looking into your barista or waitress' eyes. Those people aren't peons; they are mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, fathers, uncles, someone's best friend. Tomorrow, I will show kindness by holding in my heart two intentions during yoga class: one for a young teenage boy who desperately needs a heart transplant, and another for healing for all those who feel useless, hopeless, loveless. The energies around us are powerful. But actions are more so. I'd like this to become an ideas post for tiny things we could do for someone else ... that just might save a life, and the lives of countless others. Please help. Read this, take an idea if you can't think of one, and for god's sake act on it. We need massive change, especially in these times of upheaval and distress for many.

Thank you and peace,