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TBT: The Freedom in Tribal Connection

Way back in the day, I dropped out of grad school. I was doing well academically but not, let's say, spiritually. I asked several people in my chosen field what we could do about catastrophic injustices in the systems we were becoming experts in, and I received the same answer several times: "Uh, you could call your senator."

I was smart enough to know I didn't need a master's degree to do that, so I quit school and began my career working for social justice-seeking nonprofits. For six years, I worked for a statewide activist organization that sent me on some long trips to reach out and connect with people across county and state borders to work toward common goals. One summer, my boss and I took a road trip from the "palm" area of Michigan's lower "mitten" all the way up to the tippy-top of the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula. We went into mostly rural areas and met with local church leaders and people of faith in humanity, and we gathered s…
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$Monday: How to Get the Most Out of Your Groceries

Many of us have, by now, stocked up on enough groceries to last us two or three weeks. If you're like me, you chose to save money and maximize health by purchasing mostly whole ingredients rather than heat-and-eat processed foods.

Now, to make those groceries last as long as possible, the key is to minimize waste by controlling portions and consuming things in a logical order. If you're not used to cooking and eating this way, it will take some adjustment to accept that you can't just eat whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like it. This is a great opportunity to learn old-school home economics and develop an appreciation for down-home cooking. If you commit to these habits, you will eventually get used to it and start to find real pleasure in the process, and these kitchen witchery skills will keep you healthier and wealthier long after the pandemic has ended.


Yesterday, I had a hard decision to make. Our batch of Scharffen Berger chocolate chunk cookies dwindled to…

TBT: The Home Atelier

You may have heard about intrepid patriots and loving volunteers sewing face masks and donating them to hospitals during this time of shortage. This is a lovely phenomenon, although homemade masks do not provide the same level of protection as N95 respirators and other gear that some doomsday hoarder jerks have taken out of circulation, surely causing the deaths of untold numbers of medical professionals. (If this is you, my impulse is to tell you to burn in hell. But that wouldn't help either; instead, there is still time to repent and donate your hoard of N95 masks to your nearest hospital and then sit in your room for at least three weeks sewing your own cloth masks for yourself, in your own favorite colors and patterns.)

Long, long ago, when I wrote about sewing at home, I planned to get a nice sewing machine and learn how to use it. And I did acquire a nice sewing machine, and my friend Lisa did give me lessons on how to use it. My first garment was a maternity dress. And th…

$Monday: How to Make Do Without Hoarding

As more of us stare down the possibility of weeks in quarantine, it's easy to understand why some people are panic shopping. There's not much else to do when most activity and gathering places are shuttered. And many people are terrified--if not of the coronavirus itself, then of the disruptions to daily life and supply chains. But hoarding is disastrous to society; crowding ourselves into grocery stores is a serious health hazard; and there's no stockpile of stuff big enough to last through a doomsday scenario in which--oh, dare I say it--coffee beans become unavailable for the long term. (Not that I believe that will happen, but...)

What are we to do?

We can take a lesson from our grandparents who lived through the Great Depression and start learning how to do without some of the things people didn't always have. Some of the things we consider "essential" are things which we can, honestly, live without. Here is a list of items that some people are hoarding …