Friday, January 26, 2007

A Hectic Week

This past week has been rather hectic. Not only am I adjusting to being in graduate school, but I started my new job on Monday. I’ve been in training all this week. Today is my first day off and I intend to spend it getting caught up on housework and homework. I need to bake bread as well. I haven’t even had the chance to do that!

The weather here has been extremely unusual, like just about everywhere else. It finally got cold, but it can’t seem to STAY cold. The winters have been getting shorter and shorter ever since I moved here five years ago. Old-timers shake their heads and talk about how we used to have snow and ice every winter. I’ve never seen snow down here, and we’ve only had two icy days in the five years I’ve been here. Most people can’t make the connection, but the older folk realize something has gone wrong with the weather. Climate change is finally being felt. One of my profs has connected the dots and is acting in her own way –by building four “distance learning units” into the semester, so that all of us and she will not have to drive up to the school that week. She calculated how many miles would be saved (roughly of course) by each day we didn’t physically meet and then gave us as many of the distance learning days as the school would allow. That’s pretty awesome.

My broccoli plants are doing a little better. Some of them died, and they are all extremely leggy. I finally realized that maybe they weren’t getting enough light and started turning my office light on for them. They are slowly doing better. I’ll have to remember that when it comes time to start the other seeds!

I came across an article the other day that was rather disturbing. I’ve copied the link below. The number of service workers in the world is higher than the number of farmers. Basically, this means there are more cooks, waitresses, and bus boys (among other things) than farmers –in the entire world! This is disturbing for many reasons: Peak Oil, Overpopulation, the energy crisis, the unsustainability of industrial farming. If this trend continues, pretty soon there will be hardly anyone in the world who actually knows how to grow food –and when the industrial system collapses, what will happen then?
I think growing a garden is a better idea than ever.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Good Laugh

This will give some of you a good laugh. The guys might not get it, but the ladies should. I realized this afternoon that trying to be more eco-friendly has given me an excuse not to shave my legs (at least in the winter). As if I needed one. HA! No more plastic razors brought into this household!

Monday, January 15, 2007

I have broccoli!

Or rather, I have broccoli seedlings. All eight of my flats have sprouted. It only took them a couple of days. That is just totally amazing. They are beautiful too. Each seedling looks identical to all the others at first glance, but they are really just a tiny bit different. The height, the size of the leaves, all differs from one to another. Every morning I rotate the greenhouse so that they get an even amount of sun on all sides, and the little seedling always bend to take in the light. It is an incredible, amazing thing to watch. Each day they grow a little taller, a little more sure of their place in the world. The true leaves haven’t appeared yet, but they are coming!

The flowers are sprouting too, but they are moving much more slowly. Only one has peaked far above the soil yet. It is tall and straight and slender, with pretty little seed leaves that are still curled up.

Watching new life enter the world is the most amazing and beautiful thing in all of existence.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A New Phase of Life Begins...

A new phase of life began for me yesterday. I officially became a Master of Science candidate. Until yesterday I was taking prerequisites and the like, and had just been admitted. But yesterday I registered for graduate classes. I was terrified –my hands were shaking as I signed the paperwork –but I am also excited. A sure sign that you’re on the right path is when you’re completely terrified. I am worried about how to pay for it, but I will figure it out.

My seed order from Bountiful Gardens came in yesterday as well, along with a copy of How to Grow More Vegetables. I had to break my Compact vow to buy the book, but I haven’t been able to find a used copy, and I judged it important enough to bend the rules for that. I finished off the day by making homemade vegetarian chili and cornbread, with as much of the ingredients as possible coming from the local farmer’s market. That’s a far cry from the way I used to be.
I also have broccoli and some cold weather flowers planted in a greenhouse on my windowsill. They haven’t sprouted yet, but I am checking them every morning for signs. I am like a child on Christmas morning, running in here to check everyday!

I am slowly changing my lifestyle, one step at a time. Thanks to all of you who are sharing this journey with me!

Monday, January 08, 2007

2007 Goals

I got a lot of things accomplished over the Holidays. With school being out I had more time to focus on my green living commitment. I learned how to make homemade bread around the beginning of December. I used the Beginner’s Bread recipe from Hillbilly Housewife. I was surprised how easy it was. I figured it would be a long, drawn out process. But it was relatively simple, and the bread came out fluffy and soft –far better than any store bought kind! I didn’t have a bread pan so I used a casserole dish and made a round loaf. Then one of my best friends bought me a loaf pan for Christmas. This wasn’t any cheap one either –this is one of the kind that you’d pay fifty bucks for at Penney’s, on sale. I was aghast at first, because I didn’t want anyone to spend that kind of money on me (or buy me something new, period). He knew about me pledge for the Compact and everything, so I was a little upset. But he was pulling a gag on me; when he saw how upset I was he grinned and handed me his receipt. From Goodwill. Cost: $2.

I have some really good friends.

I was also able to declutter some more and spend some quality time with all my friends. I tried to find a way to keep my lab out of the compost pile, but it seems an impossible goal at this point. I planned the garden and ordered most of my seeds. I have some broccoli seeds and some cool weather flowers I intend to plant in my windowsill greenhouse today or tomorrow. Down here broccoli can be planted anytime from October to March, because it has to be harvested before the Southern summer really gets going.

And yesterday I quit my job. I was only there for a month. I loved the job itself, but I hated the company policies. I came down with a real bad cold last week that has turned into a full case of bronchitis. Yesterday I wanted to go home, and they wouldn’t let me. Either work or quit, they told me. So I quit. I am NOT a piece of property, and will not be chewed up and spit out by the corporate machine like so many others have been. But now it’s back to pounding the pavement, looking for another job.

School starts today. I’m looking forward to it, despite being sick. I just dragged myself out of bed a little while ago just so I could go. Luckily I just have orientation today and not a full class; I know I couldn’t sit through a three hour lecture feeling like this. I shouldn’t go at all, as I am still running a fever and am technically contagious, but if I don’t go to orientation I can’t take classes.

So what are my goals for this year? I have several, some of which are more or less related to my sustainability quest.
1.) Continue working on my Master’s degree. I anticipate graduating in the Spring of 2009 at this point.
2.) Get rid of my lawn. I am keeping a small section of it in the back, for the dogs to run and play on, but am getting rid of the entire front lawn. I am converting it into a mixture of food and flowers, with an emphasis on habitat for birds and butterflies.
3.) Expand my garden. I’ll be starting on this soon. I want to make three or four more raised beds and a section for corn. I will almost be completely self-sufficient in food production by this time next year, if everything works out. Knock on wood! I say almost because there are things I can’t grow myself where I’m at: eggs, milk, wheat, coffee, and the like. I’d like to get some chickens, but not yet.
4.) Expand my crafts business. I make all-natural, environmentally friendly soaps and lotions. I’m trying to find a way to sell them online, as well as expand my local customer base.
5.) Find and pursue other ways of reducing my footprint on the planet, one step at a time.