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Showing posts with the label money

TBT: Pumpkin Underpants and the Free Range Vegetables

Long ago, back when the trees were smaller and I didn't have a child, I started a rather ambitious vegetable garden without knowing what I was getting into, and it was great fun. I turned out to be a pretty deadbeat gardener because I kept on starting other ambitious projects at the same time, like epic novels and labor-intensive dinners, but I did learn some things--like how much fun it is to ride my bike to the farm market and buy a pumpkin someone else grew when I feel like making Moroccan-spice pumpkin soup, and also that I can get away with being an even lazier gardener by throwing away a decorative gooseneck gourd in my compost pile and looking out the window the next fall to discover that a huge vine full of its descendants has propagated itself all over my apple wood stick stack.   Below is a post I wrote during the Great Recession, when I was exploring the idea of growing as much food as possible on my own suburban homestead. I learned that I don't get enough sun anywh

$Monday: Bog Witch Style on a Budget

Autumn in a pandemic is the perfect time to tap into your inner bog witch with wild hair, cozy clothes, forest rituals, creepy cats, fire, books of spells, and Dark Cottagecore home decor mood boards on Pinterest . You don't have to live in a literal swamp. The word "bog" comes from a Gaelic term for "soft," and it sounds nearly identical to Slavic words for gods or divinity with Proto-Slavic roots that refer to earthly fortune. Bog witches burrow into the true goodness of life nestled beneath all the hustle and polish and show of making a living. They focus on soft wealth and spiritual power. The vibe is slow, earthy, comfy, moody, sneakily seductive, maybe sticky, wise rather than smart, preferring old things to new, charming rather than impressive. It's about harmonizing with the natural environment, blending, melting, enveloping, and sinking into earthy, downward energy. Bog witchery vibes with hygge, friluftsliv , and the indigenous earth wisdom of whe

TBT: Song of the Apartment

Leading up to the Great Recession, from 2006 - 2008, my husband and I lived in a cheap downtown Lansing apartment. While we don't miss the apartment itself, we do have some fond memories of our time there. Yet looking back from where I sit now (a cheap house in an affordable, diverse, beautiful, and comfortable suburb), I realize that living in a low-income apartment can be a much more healthy, safe, and dignified experience in a community that cares more about its poorest residents. By "cares" I'm not talking about feelings so much as actions and physical realities. I mean municipal-level design, planning, and implementation of social services that raise the tide and lift all the boats. In a more humanely run community, people of humble means don't have to choose between laughing or crying at all the drama in their own lives and their neighbors' lives created by untreated mental health and substance abuse struggles and lack of access to basic needs. There is

$Monday: The Value of Living Close to Your Care Network

Right in the nick of time, before Covid lockdowns, my family shared our best-ever Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 9th birthday party, all at my parents' new house down the road from my house. Looking back at that time feels like a dream now. Those memories are going to be priceless in getting us through a very different kind of holiday season this year. My parents and my immediate family are holding the line and not visiting with any other households indoors, and my parents' proximity to my house has made it easy for us to visit with them frequently, in each other's backyards. They come up with fun things for us to do together from a safe physical distance, like watch my daughter play in the sprinkler or an inflatable pool, or put up a badminton net. It has been good for our mental health and family relationships to have that access to safe ways of socializing without having to go through all the complicated logistics of traveling in a pandemic. My grandmother and several exte

$Monday: Remote Work and Class in a Working Class Household

In a chaotic year, a tidy little home workspace is everything, and I do mean everything. It's work, school, shopping, socializing, news consumption, cooking class, physical training, and entertainment. It's the hub of daily life in a pandemic. While I look forward to the day when we're not tethered to our home computers, I know that realistically, we're in this for another year at least. This is how my own working class / lower middle class family is making the best of it and savoring the silver linings wherever we can find them. There are as many ways to set up home offices and school desks as there are families and individual circumstances, and it can take time to figure out a setup that works for you. While there are unique challenges for everyone, except for maybe the disgustingly rich, I've found that there are also some benefits of working and learning from home that we, as a society, may want to not only extend into the future, past the pandemic, but also ext

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

$Monday: We Can Rise Above Death Cult Capitalism

Mmm, doesn't the smell of a bonfire make you feel punkin' spicy? Growing up, I internalized the United States cultural values of hard work as its own reward, high scores, and monetizing everything. From the age of 13, I scrounged for paltry wages (childcare, tutoring, arts and crafts sales, retail and food service and office temp jobs) while earning high grades at expensive private schools. I learned to feel guilty about "wasting" time relaxing without multi-tasking or enjoying a hobby with no intention of turning it into a hustle . I didn't have enough time to eat or sleep properly, and it made me sick and tired all the time. I was curious and drawn to new experiences, but I always felt ashamed of spending any time or resources pursuing an interest that offered no clear path to a paycheck or an award that would reflect a flattering glow upon my forebears. I had a healthy rebellious streak, but I learned to justify my transgressions with proofs of respectability a

$Monday: Home on the Battery Range

It's the last week of summer vacation in Michigan before the children plug in their Chromebooks for remote school. I'm ready to say goodbye to this heartbreaking season split between isolation and crowd madness--no, I don't mean the protests for racial justice, which we enthusiastically support--I mean, the raging road trips that Midwesterners have binged on in a tragic attempt to escape the reality of our temporary but difficult pandemic circumstance. While many of our friends and extended family have spent their summers and their stimulus checks partying "Up North" this summer-- and two of my husband's loved ones died doing it-- my little household and a small but strong cohort of our friends and family have committed to keep on staying home, staying safe, and taking smaller risks out of consideration for others in our communities. Not only did we opt out of all travel this summer, including road trips, we emptied our savings to reinvest in the future by up

$Monday: The Value of a Ten-Minute Walk and the Worthiness of You

Gyms are not necessary for fitness, nor is exercise an all-or-nothing game in which you're either a bodybuilder or a hardcore couch potato. The truth is that a better quality of life exists in between those extremes, and it doesn't cost anything. It doesn't require electronic tracking devices or professional trainers, and it doesn't look like washboard abs and bulging biceps--those have more to do with vanity than health or even functional strength. Building a little bit more movement into your day doesn't have to suck up time, either--in fact, it can give you more time by increasing productivity and simplifying your schedule. The real barriers to taking that first step are usually in the mind. The first thing you must do is to convince yourself that you are worth that ten-minute investment. When it comes to exercising, doing the absolute, bare minimum has a bigger impact than many people realize. Simply getting up and moving around occasionally during a long day of