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 ... :-)


  1. I didn't realize you drive everywhere! Is it possible to cycle places? I'm very lucky because Toronto has a transit system that allowed me to take the bus or subway everywhere but I know that not everyone has that option. So... Bikes?

  2. i do have a bike, but i can't currently find the pieces i need to put it together from being stashed away inside all winter ... and also i have to store it up two flights of stairs which is a pain. louisville is bike-friendly enough, it's just a really spread out town. we need light rail, but i doubt it will ever happen.

  3. what a lovely entry to read! so proud of all of your progress towards the lifestyle you really desire. and you're not even half-way through the year..! the cheese thing is such a triumph for you. having a time in life to slow down can be really so personally rewarding. i'm really looking forward to that aspect this summer. =)

  4. Those are great goals!

    finish Montessori albums: I remember this one well!!!

    Love the pic of the brussel sprouts, I love them!

  5. Hi Karen,
    Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. It is awesome! I can't wait to bring it to my next get together!!!

  6. You are such a thought-FULL person, Karen. I really DO wish we lived closer; I feel we would be fast friends. :)

    Love your goals. Remember that you can knit while you wait and on the bus! Love your header up there, btw. :)

    I'm not a great fan of vegan cheese either. Even though I wrote up a pretty nice review of Scheese, I changed my mind later. The only one I seem to like is Follow Your Heart's, "Vegan Gourmet," and that only in little doses. I mostly just go without.