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!

 

Not Stupid Courgettes 10/07/2009

Filed under: Community,Food,Garden,Home education,Lifestyle,Sewing,Transition — snoozerider @ 22:04

Yes, yes, I know, it has been ages.  I’ve been pretty busy living life – working on Transition stuff, sewing bunting (yes, it is useful, honest!), paddling in the sea, making and eating cakes, reading “The Joy of Not Working” (thoroughly recommended by the way), signing petitions and writing to my MP about the Badman Review, making use of my Family Railcard…

Anyway here’s a summary of the Towards a Good Life bits:

The Age of Stupid

Went to see this film a week or two ago, which was put on by Downham and Villages in Transition.  I was pretty excited about seeing the film and it almost lived up to expectations.  I imagine if you didn’t already realise the scale of the climate change issue, then you would find it quite a wake up call, it’s fairly visual and hard hitting.  My only criticism would be its bittiness.  It’s made for the channel hopping cable TV generation I think, skipping from one thing to another.  The best bit for me was a cartoon segment showing the relationship between the stuff we buy and coal emissions in China – can’t really describe it very well in words!  I may have missed a few key bits of the film due to the fact that there were lots of subtitles and a tall man sat in front of me 😦 .  I would recommend it, but still prefer the Wake Up, Freak Out film – which has the added bonus of being only 11 minutes long!  For those that haven’t already seen it:

On the Plot

Much excitement heralded the arrival of the first harvestable courgette, as you can see:

IMG_2126

Since this picture was taken a few days ago, we have harvested a couple more, but have also had 3 go rotten on the plant.  Looks like it may be a good idea to remove the flowers once they wilt, so will try this. It’s all a learning experience.

Elsewhere on the plot, the first few beetroot have been harvested (the ones that survived the initial sparrow attack), the next batch of radishes are nearly ready, the red spring onions are proving delicious – if a little potent, and we have beans growing on the runner bean and borlotti bean plants.  Got plenty of salads in pots, a chilli pepper on the Hot Wax plants, some little green tomatoes…sure to have missed some stuff!  I am discovering that I am giving everything a bit too much room in the raised beds, so there is the potential to have much more growing.  Can’t decide what to put in the gaps at the moment though – more salad leaves, radishes, oriental veg?!?!  Decisions, decisions.

Politics

There is to be a by-election in my ward in August and I have agreed once again to stand as a “paper” candidate for the Green Party.  Don’t yet know which other parties will be represented, but might put a bit more effort in to campaigning this time!  I WILL beat the BNP!!

Sewing

Sewing is coming on well.  I have made some bunting from scraps of material not big enough for the Morsbags, and I must admit it looks rather fab, although does remind me of a row of knickers hanging on a washing line!  I will post photo next time I have it strung up somewhere :-).  The bunting that is, rather than my knickers ;-).  Bagging has taken a bit of a sideline to that, but total is now up to 33, a rather poetic one bag for each year of my life.

Transition King’s Lynn

Have been working hard on keeping the momentum going on this.  We recently had our first public event, a picnic and planting day in the Walks which went pretty well. Hopefully the event will have spurred some more people into action so there will be more of us actively involved in keeping the bed going.  Read more about it on the Transition King’s Lynn website, here.

That’s all for now folks – will try not to leave it so long next time in the hope that I might actually remember what I’ve been doing!

 

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…

 

Fairy Hammocks and stuff 10/03/2009

Filed under: Lifestyle — snoozerider @ 10:08

OK, a warning to any squeamish (male) readers, look away now, I’m going to be talking women’s stuff 😉

Having decided that my tampax compaks were not all that environmentally friendly to say the least, I finally bit the bullet and bought some washable menstrual pads.  It took me a while to get to this point, having a few of the doubts mentioned in this article, but here I am!  I ordered a selection from a site called Feminine Wear, my favourite being the wonderfully named Fairy Hammocks.

So now I am “enjoying” my period and have got chance to try them out and actually they’re great!  They’re soft, they don’t bunch up in your knickers, they’re fun colours, one is made from hemp, which makes me feel a bit rebellious lol, and it’s really not all that yikesy to wash them, honest.  I have got a big kilner jar, which I filled with cold water and popped into a plimsoll bag (v discreet).  Then when time came to wash them, I just took them out of the jar, popped them in the washing machine with my other stuff on a normal 40 degree wash cycle,and er, watered the miniature rose with the water.  It’s got to be good for the plants hasn’t it?  Mind you, wouldn’t be so keen to water the salad leaves with it!

Anyhoo, here’s a pic so you can see how fab they are.

And hey, when my sewing skills improve beyond hemming a bit of fabric to make square cloth napkins for the boys, maybe I’ll even make my own.

 

Normal? No thanks! 06/03/2009

Filed under: Lifestyle — snoozerider @ 09:53

“‘Normal’ is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to the job that you need so that you can pay for the clothes, car, and the house that you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it.”

– Ellen Goodman

 

Where I’m at 20/02/2009

Filed under: Lifestyle — snoozerider @ 20:55

I’ve spent a lot of years reading books about environment, ethics etc and now I feel that I want to do more, to live my life more in line with my ideals. I’ve got to a stage in my life where I don’t care so much about being odd/eccentric/non-conformist/insert more insulting word here.

So, here’s where I’m at on a personal level:

  • Stopped eating meat and drastically reduced dairy consumption too
  • Stopped relying on plastic bags, using a mixture of lovely jute bags and my shopping trolley (pic to follow)
  • Taken children out of school to home educate them
  • Making conscious effort to reduce use of gas and electricity in the home
  • Started collecting veg peelings etc for composting
  • Reduced amount of money spent at supermarkets, choosing to buy from local shops, markets and Suma cooperative
  • Learning to sew, after deciding that it was quite shameful that I couldn’t do even the most basic sewing tasks
  • Using bike or bus where possible to get around
  • Trying to use less disposable stuff, looking for reusable alternatives

I have also realised that being more green and “ethical” in my own little world is not enough and so am joining together with others to try and get a transition town initiative rolling in the town I live in. I am attracted to the transition movememt above any other, because of the positive action and optimistic message. I am pretty excited about it 🙂

So that’s where I’m at at the moment. The next challenge is growing some of our own veg this year. M² is very kindly building two raised beds in the garden for this, making the frames out of our old gates, which were blown down in the wind last year. He is a bit worried about them being “pikey” but have reassured him it’s not pikey, it’s “permie”.

Keeping reading the blog for how the vegetable plot goes, hopefully with lots of lovely pics of gorgeous juicy organic vegetables later in the year 🙂

 

So What’s it All About?

Filed under: Lifestyle — snoozerider @ 20:03

It’s about trying to make my lifestyle fit in with my beliefs and values.
It’s about learning to live with less stuff.
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.
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.
It’s about coming together with others towards a transition culture.
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.