Towards a Good Life

My Journey Towards Living a Life I Can Live With

Summer’s gone 30/09/2009

So thought it must be time for another blog post and an update on the journey towards a good life.  I thought it might be a good idea to look at my original “So, what’s it all about?” post and measure progress against that:

It’s about trying to make my lifestyle fit in with my beliefs and values.

Well, this is kind of working.  I feel reasonably comfortable with my lifestyle as a stay at home, home educating mum.

It’s about learning to live with less stuff.

I have sold my Garmin and heart rate monitors on Ebay, have cleared out my wardrobe to leanest yet levels, freecycled excess stuff… My main downfall is books – I just can’t quite see them as “stuff”.  Can I learn to live with fewer books?  I’m just not sure!!

It’s about growing vegetables, and learning to sew, and turning switches off at the wall, and reducing waste, and other baby steps towards a more self sufficient and energy efficient lifestyle.

The first year of vegetable growing has gone reasonably well – successes included radishes, salad leaves (particularly the fabulous red mustard) and courgettes.  We are now enjoying home grown tomatoes and runner beans.  Still waiting for the fennel to plump up enough to be worth eating and have sprouts to look forward to in the winter.  The borlotti beans were a bit of a waste of space in the raised bed – they took up the space for ages and, although super pretty, only really provided enough of a harvest for 2 or 3 meals.  Next year I need to be a bit more on top of successional sowing of stuff so as to make better use of the space but I don’t think it has gone too badly!  I have certainly learned that my crops need protection, not only from birds eating my beetroot seedlings, but also from neighbouring cats loving to use any freshly dug soil as a toilet.  Grrrr.

The sewing has been the great success of 2009 so far for me.  I am still enjoying the morsbagging and recently met up with another pod in Norwich to do a bagging workshop in the window of Oxfam there.  It was a fabulous day and really inspiring.  I have now made 47 bags, and have just heard that I will be pod of the fortnight on the Morsbags forum next!

I am in the yellow t-shirt, concentrating hard!

I am in the yellow t-shirt, concentrating hard!

It’s about letting go of traditional models of school and learning to trust that my children will learn what they need to know when they are ready to know it.

The home education adventure is working well – will be blogging about it here.

It’s about coming together with others towards a transition culture.

The transition group has been less rewarding than I had hoped but rather a bit of an energy sapping uphill struggle to generate enthusiasm, participation and support.  The edible garden we have created has been quite a success but not much else is happening there and I am not sure if I have the personal energy and resources to keep banging away at it.  It does feel rather like flogging a dead horse!

It’s about sharing that journey with others and recording it for myself so I can see how far I’ve come and how far I’ve got to go.

Ok, so I have been a bit crap at keeping this updated…but I will try harder!

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Downham’s Not Stupid and Saving the World Geek Style 19/06/2009

Last Saturday, me and the boys took the train to Downham Market to help out the Downham transition group with publicity for The Age of Stupid film showing.  We used our new family railcard and were pleasantly surprised that the fare was only £2.65 for me and £1 for Gman.  What a bargain!  It was a beautiful sunny day and we parked ourselves outside Tesco there.  Downham Trannies (is that the right term?!?) had a banner “Downham isn’t Stupid”, together with their portable argument kit, leaflets and a poster for the film.  Gman was a bit disappointed that no-one was prepared to climb onto Tesco’s roof to unfurl the banner over their logo…he is going to make a proper eco-warrior I feel :-).  Anyhow, the boys did a champion job of handing out leaflets – people weren’t unkind enough to refuse to take one from such cuties.  Did feel rather cynical, but they did enjoy it, honestly!!

The boys handing out Age of Stupid leaflets

The boys handing out Age of Stupid leaflets

You can read about it in the EDP here:

http://www.edp24.co.uk/content/edp24/news/story.aspx?brand=EDPOnline&category=News&tBrand=EDPOnline&tCategory=xDefault&itemid=NOED15%20Jun%202009%2010%3A46%3A13%3A843

In Transition Film

Later on the same day, M² and I settled down to watch the live streaming of the In Transition film, which was available from the Transition Culture website.  I thought the film was pretty good in as much as it showed loads of positive projects that transition initiatives have been part of, from all over the world.   There were also some good titbits of info on peak oil eg one litre of oil is equivalent to seven hours manual labour in energy terms.  On the negative side, it had a really annoying sound track and it was a bit twee in places.  I certainly don’t think it will help to dispel the idea that transitioners are all disorganised, white, middle class do-gooders in woolly jumpers :-).

BOINC

Now I don’t claim to fully understand how this works…but we have signed up to help out http://www.climateprediction.net/.  It’s a project that uses people’s computers to help run a complicated climate change model.  Or summat like that.  The technology is called BOINC – google it and see if you can work it out!!  Do get nice little model of the Earth to look at how the model is working and data on how many work hours your computer has put in.

Morsbags

It wouldn’t be a blog entry without a morsbag mention, would it?  Tally is now up to 30.  Gonna have a break for a few weeks now, while I make some fabric bunting 🙂

 

Elections, Transition and Morsbagging 10/06/2009

Oh dearie me, I am a bit behind with my blog aren’t I?

I stood as a “paper candidate” in last week’s County Council elections for the Green Party.  I must admit, I wasn’t altogether convinced about doing this, having the view that the political process might be just be a bit too damn slow to change things for the better within a timeframe that is going to halt the worst effects of climate change.   I didn’t do any canvassing although did join with others of all political persuasions to deliver anti-BNP leaflets, designed by Unite Against Fascism.  I’m not sure if they did any good though, as the BNP polled 273 votes, against my 196 😦  Mind you, from a personal point of view, I was well pleased with 196 votes as I was terrified that I would only get 2 votes or something!

I have also been busy with stuff for Transition King’s Lynn – see the website for more details.  We are hoping to drum up a bit of support for our Grand Planting Out Day/Picnic on 5th July 2009 from 10am-2pm.  I am a bit worried that everything is a bit late for this year in terms of a superb display of plants, but think it will be good publicity and hopefully will raise a bit of awareness.

Thirdly, I have been continuing on my crusade to convert the world to Morsbags.  My tally is now up to 27.  I took these to the home education group on Monday and have managed to give away all but 3 of them.  Everyone was very sweet about how lovely they were and very grateful so that gave me a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling inside 🙂  And justified my purchase of more curtains at a weekend car boot sale…

Here’s a pic I took of a few of the bags before liberating them to their new homes:

On the home ed front, we have been enjoying a bit of arty stuff, painting some pebbles and making this rather lovely snake between us.  Isn’t he lovely?

 

An Inconvenient Truth 06/04/2009

Filed under: Environment,Home education — snoozerider @ 20:32

Watched this film for the first time at the weekend, as it was on the telly.  Here’s a trailer for it:

I thought it was very good at getting across the message that climate change is real and is already happening, with some great graphs and photography.  I was disappointed with how short it seemed to be on solutions, other than the insulate your house, drive more efficient cars type of thing.   I am considering letting Gman watch it as part of his Climate Change project but will have to carefully gauge his reaction, to make sure it’s not too scary for him.  Although to be honest, after watching an animation of the Earth roll downhill into a mass of flames (Wake Up, Freak Out, Then Get a Grip) it might be quite tame for him 😛

 

Freecycling, recycling and a bit of scavenging too 17/03/2009

Filed under: Community,Environment,Lifestyle — snoozerider @ 17:08

In a bid to clear my life of clutter, I embarked on a bit of freecycling this week.   I had an old rebounder in the shed which was taking up far too much room.  It’s not bouncy enough to be fun for the kids to jump on and I couldn’t ever be bothered to drag it out the shed for an exercise session, so it was just collecting dust, and one more thing to bump into when I try and get my bike out.  I put up an advert for it on freecycle at 11am and by 3pm a lady had been round and picked it up and seemed really thrilled with it.

Buoyed by this success, I thought “why not get rid of the old electric lawnmower?”  Having put this up on freecycle, I was bombarded with responses.  Then I had a dilemma – who do I give it to?!?  Should it be the first to reply, the one who sounds the worthiest, the politest email, the email with the best grammar?  Who am I to decide who is most deserving of the lawnmower?!  In the end, I went with someone who had written a nice email, who could pick it up the next day and who had left a contact number.  Oh, and was a DJ as well.  Got to give priority to the music lovers 🙂

On the recycling theme, took a trip to the tip on Sunday with three bagfuls of clothes, as well as bottles and tetrapaks.  Took me a while to find the textiles section at the perplexingly organised new tip but I found it eventually and it was kind of like a big metal shed, rather than a bank.  I duly deposited the bags there but then happened to notice that there was a brand new, unused, perfectly nice rag rug sitting on the top.  “I’ll have that!” I thought, and it looks rather smashing in the dining room, slowing down the spin of the computer chair.  Not sure if it is green to be coming home with stuff from the recycling centre?!  But hey, it’s being put to good use…

 

Raised beds again 02/03/2009

Filed under: Environment,Garden — snoozerider @ 22:14

Been out this afternoon and filled the raised beds, with a mixture of topsoil and compost (peat-free of course!)

Waif was keen to help out by shovelling compost and getting his plastic spade out to do some of his own digging, but Gman was too busy writing his story about a post-global warming burned out planet inhabited by aliens with comedy names…hmm, not sure I should have let him watch the Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip film :-S  It is most excellent though – check it out here

 

Climate Change and Energy Security 20/02/2009

Filed under: Community,Environment — snoozerider @ 21:31

This week, I went to a talk about climate change and energy security given by Dr Keith Tovey from the UEA, hosted by the local churches together group.  G-man came along with me and diligently took pages of notes! Whilst the information given about climate change and energy sources was of interest (you can view the presentation here) I was disappointed when it came to the solutions given, eg switch appliances off standby, put a lid on your pans.  TBH, I found it a little bit insulting to be telling this to a group of people who had enough interest to come to such a talk and are probably already taking such steps.  Surely it’s time to admit that something more radical might be called for?