Triumph of the Weeds


Update
October 28, 2013, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So four year hiatus, but I am back. Now that I’ve graduated and am now living in Wyoming, I hope to be able to update somewhat regularly.

2nd two years of  school required me to put most of my belongings in storage and essentially live on the road. A lot of my sustainable practices either had to be put on hold or regressed, most significant of all from scratch cooking with SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients. I regained the weight I had lost and then some. Now that I have my own kitchen again, the weight is thankfully starting to come off. It’s a very educational (and also disgusting experience) to eat the “typical American diet” again after having weaned yourself off it.

Practices that I was able to hang on to:

-Air drying clothes rather than using a dryer

-Dr. Bronner’s soap as primary toiletry and cleaning product

-Handkerchiefs instead of kleenex

So in my spare time, I plan to resume cooking, gardening, crafting, and all the other assorted elements of the sustainable lifestyle. I hope to detail my progress and results on this blog. I also plan for this blog to be a place to discuss the deep thinking issues in the sustainability movement.



Moving to Greener Pastures
July 17, 2009, 1:08 am
Filed under: community, food, shopping, transportation, travel, walmart

I’ve moved. Yayness! I’m now living near the Cumberland Gap. I am also going to be starting school in a couple of weeks. I will try to keep posting regularly, but if a long span of time goes by without an update, then you’ll know why.

Time past, whenever I moved, I simply took stock of the chain stores in the new location. Despite their many drawbacks, box stores have the advantage of comfort and familiarity for people, like myself, who move often and/or have RoadTripping in their blood. I know that wherever I am, I can walk into a Walmart anywhere and know that I will can get exactly what I need and that it will be solid quality for a low price. I’ve got the inventory memorized, and the stores only have two layouts which are mirror images of each other, so it’s also easy to get in, get out, and get on with my life without even thinking about it.

But mindfulness is the name of the game now, which means that moving entails not only physically transferring all my possessions from one place to another, but also reassessing how to acquire all the goods and services I need in the most sustainable manner possible. I’m now living in a small rural town as opposed to living right in the city, which requires quite a significant adjustment in this regard. Aside from Walmart, the town has a Kroger and a Food City, a handful of fast food and casual dining, a smallish mall, a Good Will, and a handful of smaller stores. Like many small rural towns, the downtown is a bit shabby and most local businesses are struggling, though there is supposed to be a nice coffee shop that is a popular hang out. I’m going to be good and check out the local businesses to see what they are like, but I suspect that they won’t carry most of the goods that I use on a regular basis. One promising thing is a farmer’s market downtown that I have yet to check out.

This sounds a little limiting the way I’ve written it, but frankly, I’ve never been a fan of cities or suburbs, and I’m far happier living in the middle of nowhere, like I am now, than be within a stone’s throw of all the shopping I need. It just requires a bit of planning and strategizing, like scheduling long distance shopping trips, mail ordering, and doing without. What I’m hoping to do is make a once a month trip into the city to visit the food coop and Earth Fare and any other shopping that I need, visiting the farmer’s market on a regular basis when it’s open, and shopping at Kroger and Walmart as sparingly as I can. It’s possible that I’ll be able to network at the farmer’s market and find some more local food sources. I’m particularly hoping that I can find milk locally, since I really liked being able to buy local milk from pastured cows when I lived in Raleigh. It’s pretty much the only thing that I won’t be able to get from the food coop, since milk only lasts a couple weeks at most.

There are other advantages of living here too. One is that the town is very amenable to walking and biking, much more so than Raleigh. I may even be able bike commute to school (which is in the next town over). So I’m hoping to limit the driving to these once a month trips into the city and any other necessary long distance trips. That will be a great relief for me, because as much as I love RoadTripping, being forced to drive to get around anywhere in town has always really bugged me. I’m also planning on move to a much more rural location eventually, so living here will be a good way to transition.

As I’ve been packing and unpacking, I’ve found myself pondering about how people moved in the olden days, before our infrastructure supported such a mobile lifestyle and people’s wealth was much more tied to place and community. I guess that the only people who moved frequently were the very rich, who could bring enough material wealth with them to survive comfortably until they could establish themselves in a new place and build new social ties, and the very poor, who having nothing left to lose, either hit the road and survived any way they could…or they didn’t. As much as I love the mobility of contemporary society, I can’t help but be troubled by how it contributes to the eroding of community and the ties between human beings and their environment, when there’s the expectation that almost anyone can up and move to a new location if needed or wanted because of a job or anything else, but wherever one goes, it’s exactly the same, comforting and familiar. Migration patterns end up being based more on economics than on the ability of the land to sustain population.



She Crafts!
July 2, 2009, 1:18 am
Filed under: crafts

I finally taught myself how to crochet. It took a little while to get started, but once you get the hang of it, it goes really fast. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

A feather boa. OK, ok, it’s actually a scarf, but I’m using it like a feather boa. It’s very fluffy and soft like a boa.
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A tree skirt. I know it looks like a blanket, but really, it’s a tree shirt.
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See?! I’m doubling my rosemary bush for use as a Christmas tree. This would probably look better if I had put the bush in a wider, shallower pot, but you get the idea.
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I’m not sure what my next project is going to be, but I’d like to get into making something functional like socks. (If anyone can point me in the direction of a simple, easy sock pattern, feel free to leave a comment.) I’m also planning to use up my stash of plastic bags to make some tote bags.

I’ve recently acquired my grandmother’s knitting supplies, so I’m also going to get into knitting as well. My grandmother taught me when I was little, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to relearn.



Garden Update- June 2009
July 1, 2009, 11:00 pm
Filed under: garden

I took these pictures at the beginning of June, but didn’t get around to posting them until now. Oops.

Lemon Thyme.
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Greek Oregano, which started growing like gangbusters.
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Mint, which really does grow like a weed.
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Parsley.
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Rosemary. My attempts to grow rosemary from cuttings completely failed, but then I picked up a bush from the Duke Homestead Herb and Craft Fair. And yes, I do realize that using the grass as a backdrop was not the best idea.
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Catnip. I also got this at the Herb and Craft Fair.
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Garlic. This died off at the end of May and I’m not sure why. I’m not really sweating it because I was just growing it on a lark. I got the cloves from the supermarket and I have no idea what variety is or where exactly it’s from, so I don’t know the specifics about ideal growing conditions and so forth.
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Strawberries. These have been growing very well. So far, I’ve gotten a yield of about 5 strawberries, ripening one at a time.
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Tomato. The plant is growing pretty well and there’s a dozen or more tomato-lets growing. They seem to be small, but bigger than a cherry tomato or a Roma tomato. Slightly bigger than a golf ball, I guess. Still not sure what variety it is.
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Garden Update- May 2009
May 8, 2009, 1:37 am
Filed under: garden

There’s been some good growth on all the plants in the past months, as well as some new additions.

Lemon Thyme- I took a few cuttings for the plant exchange at work.
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Greek Oregano. Also took a few cuttings for work. It looked a lot bushier before I did that.
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Mint. I picked this up at the plant exchange.
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Parsley. I also picked this up at the plant exchange.
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Rosemary. I picked this up at the plant exchange. It’s actually a cutting, and may not be the right kind for growing a new plant. I’m going to try anyway and see what happens. The big one is the original cutting, then I took three smaller offshoots from the big one and I’m going to try getting those to root as well. Everything I read online really confused me as to what type of cutting will work, so I’m hoping that one or the other is the ticket. Here goes nothing. *crosses fingers*
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Garlic.
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Chandler Strawberries. I’ve had about two strawberries, one at a time, ripen so far. I wonder if it’s always going to be this way.
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Tomato. Bottom leaves turned yellow and died while the upper part of the plant was thriving, which worried me until I finally read something that said that the lower branches typically die off as the growing season moves along. Phew.



My Trusty Steed
May 2, 2009, 7:46 pm
Filed under: transportation

I bought a bike! Let me tell you that I am such a wimp that the first time I went for a ride, my legs totally gave out after wards. Anyway, practice, as they say, is key. Riding with the cars really freaks me out, too, and the Piedmont topography is also a little challenging. So far, I’ve biked to the Farmer’s Market and back a couple of times. I’ve got a running calculation of bike expenses and money and gas saved and I will do a periodic update on the balance. I will also post updates of my progress in shifting from car to bike as my primary mode of transit.

Here is a picture of my baby. I need to give it a name, but haven’t thought of a good one yet. Any suggestions?
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Garden Update- April 2009
May 2, 2009, 7:27 pm
Filed under: food, garden

Yes, it’s May already, I know. But I took these pictures at the beginning of April and the time got away from me. Everything seems to be doing rather well, but I’m still holding my breath. Also, I discovered this platform of sorts below the porch, so I moved my plants there because it seemed like that’s what all my neighbors were doing.

Lemon Thyme- there’s been some nice growth already. I’m expecting it to start growing gangbusters once now that spring is here.
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Greek Oregano- again, there’s been some good growth. Anticipating a lot more in the coming months.
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Garlic. I planted 4 cloves and three sprouted. Not bad. I then transplanted them to this larger container.
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Chandler Strawberries. Got these at the Farmer’s Market. There’s actually three plants in here, but I only have a limited amount of pots (which I got from Craigslist and other assorted places), so I’m keeping them together for now. I’m tentatively planning on separating them next year to let them grow some more. That strawberry you see ripened the day or so after I bought the plants. Tasty.
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Tomato. My roommate got me this for my birthday. She works in a greenhouse and is apparently sick to death of tomato plant so she thought of me when there were plants not being used anymore. She has no idea what variety it is. Possibly a Money Maker? If anyone has an idea, please leave a comment. Also, I’m going to have to figure out the best way to handle tomatoes if/when they do ripen, since I don’t like raw tomatoes, only cooked or in sauce.
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