Sunday, June 15, 2008

What I Would and Wouldn't Want to Give Up

Hey, I've been tagged for a meme, yay!!

Thank you, Phelan! A Homesteading Neophyte was one of the very first homesteading blogs I ever read, and still at the top of the list. Thank you for the honor of being tagged :)

The topic is what I wouldn't give up to go "green"...

Which isn't an easy decision!

OK, here goes:

I don't think "Green" and I don't think along the lines of saving the earth. There. Pass the bowl of rotten tomatoes and I'll prepare for impact, ha!

Let me qualify that statement!

Those phrases get bandied about so often in so many different contexts that oftentimes I feel like it's a Drink-the-Koolaid situation. They cover a gamut of propositions and expectations, and I'm not ready to embrace the whole kit 'n kaboodle. Why? Because I don't perceive "being green" and saving the planet the same way as the next person does, and because I'm a staunch individualist. I don't think there's a One Size Fits All set of answers or solutions.

(You knew I couldn't keep this simple, did you??) lol

That said, I take stewardship of my little sphere, and the larger one, very seriously. I DO believe in the responsibility of sentient humans towards creation at large and within the smaller realm. In fact, I see this as one of the most important jobs we have during our lives here. But my choices may not look like someone else's, and I have inherited a world shaped by the choices of many other people with whom I don't often agree. So many of my decisons are based on UN-doing their legacy. Others are very worth preserving, or re-discovering before their memory dims or is lost entirely.

Here's what I'm willing to give up...if survival of my family depended on it:

Everything that's not immoral.

Here's what I'm willing to give up to ensure a better world for those who come after me:

A lot. And I have to confess that many of the things I think of as benefitting the world at large I also think of in terms as benefitting our family now. Or as being responsible citizens and neighbors in the larger sense. We're working on this list, since it seems that with everything we forgo, we have to ADD a skill we previously didnt have to compensate for it. We're presently doing just that...doing without one thing while trying to acquire a new skill to provide something we need, in a different and more sustainable way. In many ways, the things we're embracing are considered "green." We're doing each of these things cognizant not just of how they're perceived by others as environmentally responsible, but also how they fit into our own personal sustainability. It would be foolish for us to throw away things we already have, but we're making differen choices as we acquire anything else for the future. What we have and use are viewed now with an eye to long-term usefulness and their relation to doing things in the most natural way...utilizing more traditional ways and skills and returning to simplicity. It's a process and it'll probably always be one.

That said here are some of the things I'm reluctant to do without at present...not that I wouldnt, but I wouldnt enjoy it :

1. Air conditioning. We may have to do without this someday, but living in Florida without some way to cool ourselves is akin to putting chickens in a henhouse that's a convection oven. I step outside, and the rotisserie begins. The only way I seem to be able to bear it, presently, is to have some relief from the heat, ergo the A/C.

2. Computer. As much as I want to throw unnecessary technology (and sometimes ALL technology away), the computer has proven to be a valuable tool for us, especially the internet. It saves us trips to the library and gives us a vast menu of research choices, and accessibility to people we'd otherwise be too far away from to meet or stay in touch with regularly. It's a quick way to letter-write and journal. I can read the world news from about anywhere. I can find recipes, medicines, blogs, books, supplies. It's a great way to meet a broader community and compare ideas...and learn from others. Could I do without it? Oh YEAH. I LOVE being unplugged! But I do have to admit it's a very useful tool for right now.

3. Books. The world would NOT be a better place, to me, without these. The tradition of oral storytelling as a vehicle of preserving history and legend seems to have faded, but books preserve their voices. I love a good story! There is nothing that can satisfy the same way as a book when curled up in an armchair or in bed at night...a computer screen is little substitute.

4. Bathing. It's what we do in Florida after Basting. You live in Florida, you're basically doing what my hilarious friend Kristy calls "making gravy." Florida is the self-basting state, what with the humidity and the constant high temps. I can also say that about most of Mississippi, Arkansas and southwest Tennessee...places I know well from having lived, and basted, there. After a good slow-bake, I love me a good bath...or shower. Yes, I could survive without one. But I'd be counting the minutes till the next bath. So, in our plans for our future homestead, we aren't limiting the baths...we're prepared to use the water as greywater for our garden.

5. Other conveniences. I guess most of our primary belongings fall into this category. I could live without them. We'll forgo some of them, but I'm not sure which ones, yet. Into that category fall things such as telephone, vehicle, tools, washing machine and dryer, hot water heater (we'll do solar soon), kitchen appliances, stove. Ones I'm least likely to forgo are things we need for frugality...canning supplies, grain mill, refrigerator for milk, garden tools, fencing and animal enclosure materials. I don't see us whittling wooden pegs to use in place of nails, or splitting all our own rail fencing instead of using cattle panels or other wire thingies. We'll likely construct raised beds with concrete block. Our ages and physical condition figure into this a lot. Yes, we could sit outside our hut and eat betel nuts and yams for the rest of our lives if we had to. Maybe we'll have to? If not, I see us preserving our ability to homestead into our later years by keeping the conveniences that will not be high-maintenance, high-expense, and extend our strength beyond what it'll be as we age. We're trying to set ourselves up for frugality for the long-term...and survival. Survival is the most frugal thing we can do for ourselves, or else we're dependent on someone else.

6. Beauty. By this I don't necessarily mean Style. I've given up things like the latest styles of clothing and hair cuts, hair maintenance with expensive products, etc. We don't pay for style any more. But I love beauty, and this is important to me right up there with function. No, something does not have to conform to society's tastes to please me. But I do like some order, and I do appreciate beauty. So yes, the things that cost us in that department are going, and will have to continue to go. But there is much that beautiful that I'll nurture, and these are things such as growing flowers among our veggies, animals that are well cared for, clothes that are clean, and a house that is well-maintained. If we have curtains, they'll be the nicest ones that I can put up with what we have. Rows of home-canned fruits and vegetables, pickles and jams, are so beautiful to me. So is a loaf of home-baked bread, or a table with friends. I'll still paint paintings and want to create things for no other purpose than beauty. But what I think of as beautiful doesnt have to align itself with what others prefer, or with a current style. And I'm still trying to adjust to seeing my incoming grey hairs, which I'm not longer coloring over, in that light :)

7. Safety. Yep, I believe in being able to have a gun if we need it. I anticipate our needing it. And a couple of good dogs. I wonder if I'll be that gray-haired old granny that sits on the front porch with a shotgun in her lap, staring down the occasional sight-seer?? haha All I can say is keep your stray dogs away from our livestock in that day...

8. Indoor plumbing. Well, for me it's just a preference. I don't have to haul water for bathing and cooking, or trip over snakes on the way to the toilet. To me, it's a time-saver and a matter of comfort. But yeah, if I HAD to, I could do it the other way. Just wouldn't prefer it...

9. Certain foods that aren't local. Olives and olive oil. Certain spices. Apples. I wouldn't want to go the rest of my life without an apple pie now and then. Or chocolate.

Ok, I'm passing this meme along and and tagging these folks:

Monica at Small Meadow Farm

Pat and Steph at Bifurcated Carrots

Laurie at Slowly She Turned

Patrik at A Posse Ad Esse

Ilex at Homesteading in a Condo

Actually, I wanted to tag everyone on my blogroll (see sidebar) , so please don't be offended if you don't see your names here! If you want to post on this meme subject, go for it...I'd love to see what each person has to say on this topic :)


Brenda Kula said...

I enjoyed your observances, as always. You are forthright and down to earth in your summations. I live in East Texas, so I know all about the heat and humidity! I would not want to go without air conditioning, especially not during menopause! I tell you, I could do without that! And as for the computer, I was just reading in the Sunday newspaper this morning that one of the ways, of course, to conserve gas is to buy online. Of course, then someone has to bring your shopping to you!

TOCCO said...

Ditto..... I hear ya! Wouldn't nessasarily want to give up some stuff. But would for the greater good! WELL said!
:) Christina

Razor Family Farms said...

Whew! I am so glad that you didn't tag me! I'm rotten at these things. Why? That would require planning and I am not a planner. I'm a project person but not a planner!! LOL!


ilex said...

Um, ok, dumb question here-- will I get some sort of notice on this? You're my first tagger EVER.

I've only been blogging since February- I don't even know how to activate text to a link... Lame? Yes am'am, I am.

John Wesley said...

I'm glad you're contemplating things to possibly do without. We may get the opportunity to do without much one of these days, whether by choice or not. There will be much weeping, wailing, and nashing of teeth when it happens though.


Robbyn said...

Brenda, thank you...I have a feeling my list will change over time. There was a day I considered making food homemade a chore, and now it's more of a pleasure as I'm doing it to be responsible...It'll be interesting seeing what conveniences I simply don't miss anymore as we walk this path :)

Christina, yes...though I'm not all about labels, we are big on sustainability and being responsible with nature. Let's see what's really important as we'll look different a year or two from now, won't it? :)

Lacy, ha! Oh wait till I make a special subject just for you, lol! Actually, I wanted to include everyone in the meme, so if you'd like to do it, jump right on in! I'd love to see what you have to say!

Hi Ilex...I left it on your, you just jump right in by answering the questions your way, and then passing it along to a few more folks of your choosing. There's no official notification or anything, other than my giving you a heads up :)At least not that I know I'm even lower on the food chain of computer-savviness than most, heh heh

Patrick said...

Hi Robbyn,

Thanks for thinking of us.

I enjoyed reading the things you wrote, and agree with most of them.

Steph says she has someone in mind to tag and wants to do this meme, so I'm going to let her. I can't make any promises about when she'll get around to it...

I hope everything is going well with you!