Everybody is thinking about the economy. The generic advice from experts is all aimed it seems at keeping everyone dependent on the system that is creating their pain. "Work any job, make looking for a job your full time job, buy generic food at the grocery store, if you are not going to retire for 10 or more years, just leave the money alone...lets go to a commercial." Where is the real advice for people seriously hurting and needing to make change?
There are so many issues. How about some advice from the experts like plant a garden, get into a bulk buying club or a local coop, completely change your relationship to grocery stores and gas stations, and learn how to setup long term food storage. If the government wants to help people, how about start by letting neighborhoods use abandoned property for community gardens and teaching kids and families self-sufficiency. As a basic human right I wish everyone would focus more attention on learning how to not be dependent for everything from someone else. But we are the product of what? 5 trillion dollars of advertising I think, or is it 5 billion? Either way, we have been taught dependency and the "ease" of buying everything in a store.
For the people that look at buying things as the only way to reward themselves and to feed this addiction they are buried in debt, shouldn't the issue of addiction and happiness be addressed also? Just saying "don't buy stuff" isn't going to help these people. They are missing something crucial and need to look for that. I saw an interview with one woman who had a closet full of clothes with tags on them, bought a new outfit to come on the show and they are drowning in debt. The husband was just as bad, garage full of expensive stuff he never used. The reason she bought a new outfit, "I deserved it." You deserve putting your family in debt and being miserable? That's mixed up thinking. It really is true that the things you own, end up owning you. Putting these people on a budget and having them sell a good bit of their stuff is certainly a place to start. That isn't a long term solution though. Won't they just have a big hole that they don't know how to fill? I think if people would just try finding something outside, in Nature, to throw themselves into they might find some answers. The problem is just so huge and has so many faces. For me, the answer isn't inside, it isn't in an office, it's gadgets at a mall, it's not at the bank. The answer for me us is carving out a life from real things right here where we are, learning something new every week to go one step further, it's as much freedom from dependence as can be figured out and it's beautiful simplicity in the abundance of free things right outside the door. We have just as far to go as many people do, but we going in a good direction I think. Maybe with money being tighter than ever, people will find comfort and a different direction in their landscapes:
"That landscape has been described in a thousand different yet subtly related ways. And the experience it delivered to those who approached it correctly has also always been this experience of wholeness - of recovered personhood." - Ptolemy Tompkins
This year to reduce grocery bills and some of the dependency on grocery stores, we grew our basic spices. Peppers, oregano, basil, dill, thyme, rosemary and many others were easy and cheap to grow and dry. We also don't buy expensive cleaning agents and pre-packaged meals. For household cleaning, we mostly use a huge box of baking soda and a gallon jug of vinegar. Most cleaning needs I have are met by one of those two or both. My old boots were moldy, wiped them down with vinegar and problem solved. We keep a water pitcher near the kitchen sink and when running the hot water for washing dishes (when the wood stove is off during the summer), we capture the cold water before it turns hot. We use that water for the animals and for cleaning. When cleaning the toilet, I just pour water into the toilet till it flushes and the bowl doesn't fill back up. Sprinkle with baking soda, drizzle with vinegar and it will bubble just like expensive cleaners for you. Clean with the toilet brush and flush the next time you need to. We use vinegar for fabric softener, for cutting the baking soda after cleaning the stove, and many other things. There are a few other natural cleaners that are used such as salt and lemon juice. There are so many books and online resources about this. Carla Emery's book has a nice little section on cleaning with these basic "ingredients". Not buying expensive sprays, foams and chemicals has saved us money and kept us healthier. Sorry if I've mentioned this before, I can't remember.
Another way is to get rid of expensive boxed foods, cereal being one of those. It is so easy to make granola in the solar cooker. It just takes a day but I don't do anything but pop it in and make sure it is in the sun. I spend about 10 minutes mixing it up. The granola we like is around $4 a box in the store. I don't know what mine costs, but I know its dramatically cheaper to make it. We buy the ingredients like oatmeal in bulk and save a ton.
Well the garden is winding down some. I covered the garlic and have been doing clean up. Pulled the cabbage and they were put in the root pit. I ended up changing the root pit around. I put a door in at the other end too so that I could get to the full length of the pit easier. The door is just a piece of scrap wood with a rope in it laying on top of the sticks and under the hay. I found another burlap sack and filled it with carrots. We thought the carrots weren't going to do so well, but we were happily surprised when we pulled them up a few days ago. They are only about 5" long, but they are fat little things. With the soil we had, the carrots weren't expected to be that long this first year. It was a nice haul and will keep Rufus the pig well snacked this winter. I've been shelling the dried beans that have been hanging upstairs. There aren't a ton of beans, but I've never planted beans before and didn't know what to expect. I learned I need to plant a lot more beans and they need to go in much earlier if they are going to be stored. They are beautiful to look at though and I'm sure they are delicious. The cilantro/ coriander did very well, it really surprised me that it has gone through several frosts. It finally mostly died, but survived the first two frosts completely. I would have had much more coriander to harvest if I had planted it earlier and on time.
We grew coffee chicory this year and I processed them before I found the right instructions. One website said to bake them and they came out rubbery in the middle and burned on the ends. Then I found this website http://www.ehow.com/how_4482021_herbal-roasted-coffee-substitute.html
and decided I should have dried them first. I had the solar cooker going making a batch of vanilla granola so I chopped up the rubbery, burned coffee chicory and threw it in. After they dried for the afternoon I tried them in a cup of hot water. Hey not bad!!! Totally decent. It was very week, but I really liked it. I could grind it if I wanted to, but just don't see the need for the extra effort. Then I tried the same with the Sugar Chicory because I hated the greens, but blech the sugar chicory root was bad, in the compost. So next year I will air dry the coffee chicory, chop them up and roast them on a low heat till brown and toasted. Can't wait. Unfortunately I grew very little Coffee Chicory this year and experimented with the entire harvest. We'll put a lot more in next year because I could easily stop drinking decaf and just drink this.
I have learned so much about Mullein and Coltsfoot lately. They are amazing herbs and so abundant here. Smokers can smoke the semi-dried leaves to help with lung problems, or a tea can also be made, though for the Coltsfoot you can only drink the tea for 4-6 weeks a year. It was amazing to learn that for people that are already smokers, an herbal smoke could actually relieve symptoms and has been used for ages for the treatment of all sorts of lung and throat problems. Infusions and tinctures can be easily made with just hot water for the former and 50 proof alcohol for the later. The Mullein root has been used to support urinary tract health, specifically to strengthen the trigonol muscle at the base of the bladder, leading to improved bladder control and potentially some relief from interstitial cystitis. "Coltsfoot, in a mixture of Chinese herbs, has been evaluated in 66 cases of convalescent asthmatics and found useful in decreasing airway obstruction".
Growing our own herbs (culinary as well as medicinal) is a great way to save money and improve health. The most beneficial and abundant herbs I've encountered so far have been free and growing right in front of my face incognito as weeds. Here are some useful links I found on Mullein, this is an extremely easy herb to identify. Before you use it, make sure you can also identify lamb's ear and foxglove.
Though on harvesting herbs, I've always worried about picking too much. I take very little from each plant. To make the amount of herbal infusions and tinctures equal to what some people drink would require a lot more harvesting than I'm doing. It seems like it would be difficult to pick that much and still have an abundant supply in nature every year. It also seems to me a lot to consume and I wonder if ancient women consumed these large quantities. I'm uneducated, maybe they did. I'm sure I will learn soon enough. With more and more people learning about the abundance of wild herbs free for the taking, I hope people are conscious not to take too much and leave more than enough. When I was researching this topic, somehow I came across this website about a book "Family Herbal" . It looks like a great book, but unfortunately I'll have to wait till I find one cheaper than $50 for a used book.
Jeffrey learned to replace windows and has been replacing our single pane windows with double pane to keep the heat in. I didn't realize how much work went into that job. Maybe it's just more difficult because this is an old house and the walls are really thick. Plus he's replacing them with much bigger windows for more light. There are so many layers of stuff in there and it is nice to see what the old house was made of, I imagine it was beautiful. Getting anything level and looking level in this wacky house has been a big challenge. We love all the extra light the bigger south facing window lets in. We noticed a new house going up recently and they have very little window presence on the South side, guess they didn't think of that.
Jeffrey played a concert recently. We got dressed up and had a free night out. Anyone that has the password for the photos, there's finally one on there of me dressed up. Jeffrey hadn't changed clothes yet though. I also posted a picture a friend took of me with my Scythe and several other new ones.
I had a lot written about yogurt, but it looks like I never posted it. Maybe next time. If I haven't heard from you in a while, I'd love to. I miss knowing what is going on with everyone.