Thursday, October 23, 2008

DIY Blog Carnival

One of my main interests this winter is learning to do more things for ourselves. Becoming more self-sufficient is not only environmentally-friendly and economically advantageous, but also fun and a great example to our kids, friends, and neighbors that not everything comes pre-packaged from a store. So if you're a blogger and want to submit a "I did this myself" blog post for the Carnival, you can email me at:, with "DIY Carnival" in your email title. The more details you can include to help others, the better! Deadline: November 15.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Decluttering #1: The Feng Shui of my Kitchen Junk Drawer

I'd like to think that everyone has a Drawer of Hell somewhere in their house. You know, the drawer that you stick every thing that you don't have a place for or you don't know what it goes to. I've tried to confine myself to just one such drawer, but occasionally, like the Kipple that Phillip K. Dick rails about in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (better known in the film world as Blade Runner), it multiplies.

A quote from the book: "Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday's homeopape. When nobody's around, kipple reproduces itself ... the entire universe is moving towards a final state of total, absolute kipple-ization."

Total, absolute kipple-ization is about what happened to the only drawer near our telephone in the kitchen. First of all, I have to explain our weird house. It was designed by someone who perhaps never used objects in the same way as most average humans use them. Someone who might, say, never use a pen and paper next to a telephone, because there's almost no room between the only telephone jack on the entire floor and the stove top to put such a thing. But I digress. This is the only drawer in our kitchen that can be used for pens, paper, phone books, etc. But lately it has gotten so kipple-ized that even our phone book wouldn't fit without some shoving of stuff around to make a phone-book-sized hole in the kipple first.

So the Kipple-ized Drawer From Hell was determined to be my first de-cluttering project of the year. I have decided that many parts of this house could use a good decluttering and downsizing of stuff, and the ripping cover of the phone book as the drawer was shutting on it made this one a good place to start. It only took me an hour or two, but the end result was well worth it. Look what I did!

I decided I would post my decluttering updates here on my Urban Farm blog because I think it all relates to simplicity and sustainability. On the one hand, I have my instincts to save and re-use, handed down from my grandmother who lived through the Depression and never ever got rid of any single thing if she could help it. Her legacy of boxes of yarn scraps and old magazine clippings makes me want to run as far as I can in the opposite direction. On the other hand is my husband, who would make a Spartan seem slovenly. If he ever left me, it would be with 10 pairs of underwear and t-shirts, 2 pairs of pants, 2 suits, the baseball from the Little League All-stars game he pitched, and a beer stein from his 4 years living in Germany. That's it. That's all he owns. The rest of the kipple, I mean stuff, is mine.

Between those two warring factions in my brain is me, trying to find the balance between keeping stuff that might become necessary in the future (should we really, as many decluttering gurus suggest, be depending on the fact that whatever we throw away today we can always buy again tomorrow if we need it? How long can the world keep operating like that?), and getting rid of stuff that is only dragging me down and causing my time and mental energy to care for it.

So come with my on my decluttering journey. And if you want, you can join in and send me some pics or links of your own war on kipple.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bike Envy, Again!

My friend just got one of these bikes, a Rans Fusion, and wow is it fun to ride! I found myself laughing and smiling just toodling around the block on it. It's not quite a recumbent, but comfortable and easy to maneuver around. It's kind of like those chopper-bikes that the cool kids had back in the 70's when I was growing up, and reminds me a little bit of my old Stingray with the cards in the spokes. So yet again, I have bike envy. There's obviously not enough garage space or money in my life to have all the bikes I'd like to have in my stable.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Home to the Harvest

It's hard to believe we've been gone so long. The weather has turned in our absence from summer to fall. Autumn is the hardest time to leave here, partially because it's such a lovely season in Oregon, and partially because leaving the harvest behind feels almost sinful. It was dang hard to walk away from my vegetables! I managed to put about 6 quarts of green beans in my freezer a day or two before we left, and my good friend thankfully threw some of my tomatoes in there for me too in our absence. I still have a bunch of tomatoes and peppers on the vine, plus plums and apples falling off of our trees, so applesauce and dried plums are next on the agenda.

I was really in awe of the gorgeous kitchen gardens in Italy, as well of course as the olive orchards and vineyards. I'll try to post some photos here as I sort through them all. We also had a wonderful time cycling through Italy, a country that really knows how to appreciate their cyclists! You can catch up with my journals and photos from our Italy trip, which I'm posting in installments on my Blue Skies blog.