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.




  1. Karen,

    I am so touched by the honor of "that's why she's my best friend." That *really* touched my heart. And because you are totally down with my pace despite it being SO exciting to travel / visit together, & for all the right reasons, I know that's why you're my best friend. So I had done a bit of crossing of my fingers this wouldn't appear "boring" but secretly knew you'd be happy & relieved to hear it! It's possible that a year & a half ago, I might have come with regular "tourist" eyes had I not been compelled towards all of the inner or simple treasures you've discovered in your journey. bread-making, farm-visiting, potlucks, seeing how people tend chooks. I hope you can feel a sense of victory when you can have fun and for cheap, too. I think of it this way.. If I spend $5, the consumer side of me still expects that I'm investing in $5 worth of fun, and when I spend $50 I expect that I'm investing in $50 worth of fun. I'm investing in *More* and have higher expectations. so when I have equal or MORE fun at $5, I feel so happy and accomplished that, "wow I had a great time and don't have the pang of spending $ i should save for a rainy day." I mean, I definitely would like to see the area.. take a daytrip. riding the bus seems fun. taking long walks. (I really badly need to get in shape for farming season!) But really, I just want to see.. you.. and experience your new life and the new haunts you love.

    I think I've also learned my lesson from "playing tourist" last time I saw Chloe. We both were exhausted and kind of miserable by the end! I felt weak and ready to pass out the day of Liam's scavenger hunt, something he had looked forward to for so long! Then again, it's a lot easier to do this in a big City that offers endless consumer attractions - sigh!

    Ok let me post this, for fear that the computer is going to crash before this gets said. I may comment more, soon! Have a beautiful day!!

    And I wish you a Trader Joes so you can settle the toilet paper problem. :( Economic & recycled.

  2. the rumor is that trader joe's won't come here because you can't sell alcohol in grocery stores here, and i guess that's where they make a lot of their money ... still, they'd do FABULOUSly here. it's common knowledge, everyone's always talking about it. sigh ... for now, i'll have to settle for mom and dad sending me stuff, and stocking up in missouri and ohio whenever i get the chance. goodbye, local tax dollars! hello toilet paper!! lol.

  3. Oh, sounds like you and Sarah are going to have a great time! Often the most fun is just spending time with people you care about and it doesn't matter what you do.

    I received your lovely gifts in the mail today! The scarf is beautiful, and I will definitely get lots of use out of it in VT. I truly love the asymmetrical look of it and the yarn is beautiful and soft. The soaps smells great and I love the card too! I can't wait to read the book (but I fear I'll have to do it very slowly because I'm still dealing with some irritation to my eye that I can't seem to get rid of). But that's ok, it will allow me to take it in in small doses.

    About shopping in chain stores... I find it most difficult to figure out alternatives for the practical things. Luckily for me, the chain stores are all about 35-40 mins away so I really have to think about it if I'm going to use one for something. It's a struggle because they've made themselves the-be-all and end-all and you really have to search for alternatives.

  4. the alcohol thing never stopped trader joe's here from being in operation; they don't sell alcohol at the W. Hartford one, and many others.. weird.

    bonnie, i would *love* if you posted pictures of karen's fine creations! eye irritation? i am so sorry! :(

    and i totally agree with how the chain stores market themselves as the be-all / end-all out of sheer "convenience." but i realize, in some areas of the country, they probably *are* the only thing around.

  5. I hear you on the Target thing. Like you I have no problem intensely dislkining WM and likewise no problem visiting Target every week! Yet, they are essentially the same. But then what are my other options?? More big chain stores. If you figure out the solution let me know! And what I wouldn't give for a Trader Joe's here in is probably the one place I miss the most from Indiana. In fact, my dh will be in Chicago this coming week and he has a loooooong list of things to bring back with him!