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Showing posts with the label green

TBT: Backyard Goats

Ah, youth, when all the world is a buffet of dreams and you can just as vividly imagine yourself running your own organic farm as inhabiting a high-rise apartment in a glittering city with rent as high as your Manolos. Last night, from the snug warmth of my fluffy bed nested inside my humble but cozy house within a spectacularly October-festooned Michigan woodsy suburb, I dreamed of stepping onto a plane to Australia, about the longest trip I could possibly take on a flight. I remember the thrill of flying itself and the excitement of visiting a place I have never seen, smelled, or tasted. Then I woke up and remembered that we're in a pandemic and Australia is now pretty much constantly on fire like California, and I am very, very lucky to have a healthy little family in a humble little house in this sleepy Great Lakes suburb during what feels like an apocalyptic time to raise a child. I also have a more realistic understanding of what it takes to raise livestock responsibly. Backy

TBT: How Do I Love Thee, Manual Mower?

A dozen years after we found it in the shed of the house we bought, our love for this push mower is going strong. Though I will admit that every so often we can't keep up our entire property with this thing, and we do occasionally use a gas-powered lawnmower, our trusty "Flintstones grass cutter" still gets plenty of use as a simultaneous lawn care tool and workout machine. The next lawnmower we buy will definitely be an electric one, but nothing can replace the satisfaction of getting the job done with the power of the human body. Long ago, in the time of the Great Recession, I wrote the following sonnet as an ode to this simple joy. How Do I Love Thee, Manual Mower? How do I love thee, manual mower? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height Of my suburban lawn, when reeling out of sight For the ends of Mowing with quiet Grace.   I love thee to the level of every day's Most emission-free trim, by sun and moonlight. I love thee free

TBT: Complete Streets

More than a decade after the greater Lansing area began projects to build, improve, expand, and connect pathways for pedestrians and cyclists, my family has been enjoying the opportunities to go for scenic bike rides and to commute by walk or bike to school, work, parks, and stores. The new site of my workplace, a non-creedal church that serves a diverse community, was chosen partly because the new network of pathways (in addition to the old network of public transportation) connects to it.  When I wrote the post below, the Great Recession had shut down local General Motors plants and left big areas around my neighborhood looking like post-apocalyptic wasteland. Where some people saw devastation, my husband and I saw opportunity for something better. As of 2020, some of the "GM Wasteland" is still a mess. Some of it has gone back to work manufacturing automobiles. Some of it has been filled in with arrays of solar panels to generate clean energy for the Lansing area. And aro

TBT: The Harmonious Homes of Dr. Merle Kindred

Near the beginning of this millennium, I enjoyed the privilege of meeting Dr. Merle Kindred, a woman of the world who has dedicated her long, beautiful life to building a cozy future for all the people and other living beings that inhabit our planet. Although Merle no longer owns a house in the Keweenaw, she has left a legacy of wonderful human habitats for others there and in many other locations around the globe. She continues to educate and inspire developers and home builders with the warm care, wisdom, and complex technical knowledge she has gathered over many decades of thoughtful work, building not just structures but relationships and sustainable ways of life. Below is the post I wrote when I was a young, traveling activist in the 2000s. Merle offered me and my supervisor hospitality on a journey to organize rural Michigan for health care reform, and she also gifted us with a tour of her showpiece Northern Michigan home as well as a photographic tour of her house in Kerala, Ind

TBT: Sweet Corn and Fire (Campfire Corn Recipe)

Thanks and blessings upon the original inhabitants of this hemisphere we call America, who developed sweet corn and the delicious practice of roasting it on hot coals. Sweet corn isn't ripe in Michigan yet, but the time is coming soon! This is one of my family's favorite summer dinners. Below is a picture of campfire corn from last year, when we were entertaining guests. This year, we'll have to eat it all ourselves! Below that is a vintage memory of fire-roasted sweet corn, from back when we had a cellar dweller roommate instead of a child. Sweet Corn and Fire Sweet corn season has begun! Last night, we feasted on simple, delicious grilled corn. The ears in my garden aren't ready yet, but I found some gorgeous, fresh, juicy ears of corn at my local grocery store for 25 cents an ear. Can't beat that price! New roommate Mr. C and I rode our bikes to the supermarket to pick them up. Mr. C towed the baby trailer that Mr. G bought for us to haul groceries

TBT: Full House

Remember when co-housing, roommates, and multi-generational family homes were good ideas? Those living arrangements still have their advantages, but during a pandemic, it is much safer for individuals, romantic partners, and caregiver/dependent units to have their own spaces, amenities, and entrances. I miss the days when that wasn't so. I hope that one day soon, this pandemic will end, and the Great Recession-era post below will once again be relevant... at least for some people, at some times in their lives. I'm sure it is still relevant on well-governed, geographically isolated island nations such as New Zealand and Iceland. Oh, to be in one of those nations at this time! I sure do miss hanging out with my friends and having overnight guests, but in this very particular moment, I am grateful to live in a single-family home with only my husband and daughter and to enjoy the ability to stay put in it most of the time. I sure did not see an out-of-control pandemic coming

TBT: The Home Library of Books, Music, and Films

I wonder whatever happened to that Borat DVD I mention at the end of the old post below! I sure don't have it anymore; we've gone through several purges of old media since Borat times. These days, most entertainment is accomplished via streaming services. I listen to Eclectic24 Online, and I regularly stream movies, sometimes podcasts. But I still prefer books on paper, and I don't think that will ever change. My bookshelves packed with old beloveds have been a great comfort to me in quarantine. And I've had fun going through my old CDs and DVDs lately. Have you rediscovered any #ThrowBackThursday gems in your home collections? During a stay-at-home order, multimedia home entertainment has increased in importance somewhat, and I find it useful to have access to a combination of streaming services ( none of which I pay for , more out of concern about data breeches than because of cost) and old-fashioned physical books and discs. I've had fun rediscovering old DVDs

TBT: Dandelions for Wine, Salads, Bees, and Beauty

Spring is coming! Soon the snow will melt for good, buds will emerge, birds will nest, and dandelions will decorate green lawns with bright yellow polka dots. Long ago, when I wrote the post below, I branded myself the "Recessionista Genie" and lauded the joys and benefits of an organic dandelion crop. Since then, the trend (at least in my kind of suburbia) has continued away from Hank Hill lawns and toward colorful, maximalist, slightly wild urban landscapes that support pollinators and healthier ecosystems. We are still all about the dandelion life. Dandelions for Wine, Salads, Bees, and Beauty I don't mean to brag or anything... but I have had a bumper crop of dandelions already this year. As all children under the age of five know, dandelions are pretty flowers. They are sunshiny yellow and signal the beginning of warm weather. Since the 1950s, the era of the suburban "postage stamp" Astro-turfy lawn, we have been taught to see dandelions and ot

TBT: Grow Your Household... Laterally!

As a "poor and fabulous" 25-year-old who branded myself the "Recessionista Genie," I bought a beautiful and spacious house in a desirable suburb with my husband at the very moment when the housing bubble burst, when we were making under $40K a year total and drowning in student loan debts. Home prices hadn't quite plummeted to exciting lows yet, but the door also hadn't slammed shut on the ridiculous lending practices of the bubble times. We were approved for an unimaginable six-figure home loan with no money down (we didn't even pay closing costs), and we took it. We were tired of living in a moldy, drug-soaked apartment building in a high-crime downtown neighborhood, and we were willing to do just about anything to escape living in a cesspool of filth and sickness. Our secret to success? Filling the house with roommates to help pay the bills and share meals. We lived with at least one roommate at a time for about four years, until we had an exception

TBT: Another Woman's Treasure

The world is drowning in extra stuff. And some of that stuff is really nice, if you go looking for it in wealthier neighborhoods. Estate sales and higher-end, coordinated garage sales are still great opportunities to replenish a home or wardrobe, especially when you need a lot of things all at once. When I first moved into my house in 2007, I found furniture, clothing, shoes, dishes, linens, and more in the front yards and garages of my wealthier neighbors at the annual spring garage sale. Not every year since then has been quite as good for shoppers--you can see how the economy affects how much people spend on new things they don't even bother to use. If you need specific items, you may need to try a few different sales to hunt down all your treasures. "Naked lady parties," or clothing swaps with friends, can be another fun way to try out new fashions (for free!) while cleaning out your own closet. To this day, most of my clothing is second-hand. And I'm proud

TBT: Destroy your lawn.

When I first bought my house in 2007, I couldn't wait to tear up the land and start a vegetable garden. I'd never created or maintained a garden before, but that didn't stop me. My grandpa gave me an organic gardening book and some tools handed down from Great-Grandpa, an immigrant who had relied upon sustenance farming to keep his family alive. Although I made a lot of mistakes and encountered unexpected challenges (as always happens when growing a garden), I kept it going for a few years and was able to make some of my daughter's baby food from veggies I grew from seed. During those years, I grew tomatoes, potatoes, corn, green beans, carrots, herbs, pumpkins, watermelons, sunflowers, squash, and strawberries. I spent hours in the sunshine and fresh air, digging in the soil. It was a lovely way to spend time and energy, and I'm glad I accomplished what I did on a less-than-ideal piece of land and learned the lessons that I did. When my daughter entered the tod

TBT: Never Drive.

Obviously I wrote this post before Uber existed. Remember the days before Uber??? I've never used it or any other app service for a driver. It's not better than driving your own car in terms of pollution, safety, health, convenience, or cost. It's just a cheaper version of a taxi. So when I wrote about "not driving" back then, so-called "ride sharing" apps did not exist. This was also before I got fed up dealing with men harassing me on the bus and the dangers of cycling on unsafe roads. It was definitely the era BC--"before child," when I was willing and able to take higher personal risks to get from one place to another. I still walk rather than drive whenever I can, including walking my daughter to school every weekday (for the past two and a half years now!), and I love riding my bike to the grocery store with my family, now that we have a safe and beautiful wooded trail connecting us to the market and a kid old enough to ride her own b

TBT: Fast-Forward Fashion

This blast from the past is funny, because my personal style and shopping habits have evolved quite a bit since my 20s--in fact, full circle to the advice in the first paragraph I wrote, which I went on to reject at the time. In my 20s, I enjoyed extremely silly fashion. I'd look at Vogue magazines and then imitate designer looks in ridiculous ways. I tried to anticipate near-future trends, which I nailed in the first picture here, where I've "put a bird on it" before the meme was born. Yus! ...But. Now that I am a fully fledged adult with a more relaxed budget, I hardly ever shop for clothes or accessories, not even at thrift shops, where I am now more afraid of picking up bugs. I still have a lot of clothes, but I rely heavily on swaps and hand-me-downs from friends and family. Occasionally I browse garage or church sales in communities I trust to sell clean garments. The world is now drowning in excess clothing, so it's easy to rake in quantities of barely-wo