M271: make-a-(green)plan primary threads

The primary threads I would describe as 1) Sustainability, 2) Sustenance & 3) Social Justice. I did some counting and came up with some interesting statistics on these main themes of my posts this last nine months. This kind of rethinking, rereading led me to revising my many into a somewhat simpler list.

Even though sustainability is the purpose of make-a-(green)plan blog, I find that including the ‘food’ category within sustenance rather than sustainability makes these three a more even split. The food category is the largest and I will look at that tomorrow. Loosely, I saw the sustainability thread as those posts that do feed me. They most often speak to my essence, my spirit, my creativity. I included square footage and floor plans because my years of interiors work mean I think in these terms. For another person, this would be a different category. For me, seeing a built environment that is not functioning well is like an itch that needs to be scratched.

The things that feed my soul and body . . . including some force feeding. I try and push myself out of my comfort zone, around the world and outside my limits. From the perspective of an ascetic, these are the things that keep me going from within and from guidance outside myself. These posts are also in the other two threads. Let me repeat, these are loose categories as I fear I could get mesmerized by the process of cataloging if I let myself. Step away from this list, Kate.

Sustainability is the largest focus. I have deliberately not absorbed some of these smaller categories because they are important search words. For instance, worms and toilet are things many people are really curious about in a love / hate sort of way. These were the kinds of tags I searched in No Impact Man or Chile Chews (to name just two) before I started my own blog. I eliminated the tags to all of these green blogs except for Path to Freedom. The Dervaes Family is more a total movement these days. I would direct anyone to that site for a one stop shop, an excellent resource. I link within my posts to my favorites, the more popular green sites as each comes up. If I blog another year I might develop a blog list that I can showcase better, yet maintain and keep current and refreshed.

Organization is a key issue. For one thing, I found that the alphabet structure was as good as any other to organize my thoughts, my posts. But the 4 elements started out as a counter-note but almost immediately began to feel just too arbitrary. It was a literary conceit by design, but it was just not affective. I also saw that early last year I was reading more on fat acceptance, but this wasn’t sustained as a primary theme. I have subsequently absorbed this into the feminist and human rights category. This last category I named ‘social justice’ is clearly a powerful aspect of my life. I had no idea I would be blogging as often as I have on this thread. It is not something I am able to compartmentalize as it turns out. My feminism is an intrinsic part of my every thought. It has to be. We live in a patriarchy and misogyny is everywhere. I would love it if I never had to address another human rights abuse in my life. But, of course that won’t happen.

Now that I have a way to think about these past offerings, I will be able to fill in the blanks. Comments are welcome.

Flickr photos 3 threads here and here and here and here

M270: make-a-(green)plan purging

First, this week is magazines and books. My primary aim is to prepare for an arts and crafts project. I wrote about these Waste Waste Baskets and I want to try it to make one (or more). So, that is this week’s task. I’d like to turn to a summary. I loves me some lists.

After a dozen weeks using the alphabet for this make-a-(green)plan purging approach of one category at a time, I am thinking this is something I might keep as a regular part of my life. That came off really wishy washy, didn’t it? I have to say, I am firm about one thing; the weight of a big monster purge task is gone from my psyche.

Oh, I should mention that I am within 90 days of my year long challenge ending. I thought it was time to organize some of my past experiences and bring any unfinished business to the forefront of this challenge.

This purging approach didn’t occur to me until halfway through this year. I got a little panicked in June when I realized I’d not touched so much I’d set out to purge. I wrote a post that laid out the following categories to alphabetize the process. I want to encourage lurkers to look at the list with an eye for his or her own peculiar themes. Hint, #1 and #5 are killer.
  1. Appliances, 7/7
  2. Bedding, 7/14
  3. Cleaning Supplies, 7/21
  4. DVD's Disks, Music, 7/28
  5. Equipment, 8/4
  6. Furniture, 8/11
  7. Garden Tools, 8/18
  8. Hobby, holiday & Craft Stuff, 8/25
  9. Interior Décor Items, 9/1
  10. Jewelry, Shoes, & Bags, 9/8
  11. Keys, 9/15
  12. Lighting, 9/22
Wow, what a dramatic start with my Appliance Purge! The refrigerator being unplugged at the beginning of July is still the most radical change in this last half of the year. This giant step galvanized me. It helped me mid-year with a feeling of re-invigoration for what I was doing. I needed that kick in the butt.

Frankly, I’d planned some dramatic transformations. I had the plan for a deep cleaning of my spaces and small project completions to dramatically clear the decks. It didn’t happen and I was disheartened. I was able to switch gears with the cleaning of the interior of my home and the under-counter commercial refrigerator positioned in the living room corner – now doubling as a table base. Sometimes drama and changing the physical environment can be so stimulating.

Conversely, my 4th item with the computer zip disks and the music was something I had to put back into the metal box for another year. In an emotionally protective way, I felt I just couldn’t take that on now. I also lacked the focus required to wade through the computer zip disks. This is essentially my commercial interiors portfolio – that corporate world I am rejecting at every turn. Yet, wresting my professional identity versus my true identity is something I discovered I couldn’t do yet. Right now that dragon sleeps.

The week of the purge of jewelry, shoes, bags week was one I took off from blogging in general. I also didn’t touch the hobby, holiday or craft stuff. This last one was primarily because I had so much I was doing that week and so much piled in front of the storage boxes, I couldn’t get to it on several levels. Yet, even the tasks I didn’t do allowed me to scrutinize and think about all of these things in a different way. See, my not just wanting to be frugal and simple forces me to look at these things in terms of waste, re-purposing (favorite) recycling or replacement. It is a whole new set of variables to use in assessing ownership and STUFF.

One other emphatically life changing purge was the equipment purge. I got rid of the television. Halleluiah, praise Jebus! That is worthy of some sort of adoration from on high, or some fucking thing. That god damned tube caused me more soul deadening waste than anything I can contemplate in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I still watch live streaming – even some full episodes of network drama. I have a long row to hoe to get away from this completely. I am cultivating a life without technology-centeredness and I am very far from that right now.

But, I got rid of the most mind numbing shit that I’d been rationalizing for simply years. Here is an example, food network. Food network? I am sorry. I let these agribusiness apologists into my life and I am so glad I got them out. Whereas, I may choose to plug in my beautiful appliance, the commercial - glass door - glass side panels – under counter refrigerator. I may even take back my little Italian toaster oven. . . You can’t make me take back that fucking television. Don't try.
(Disclaimer: I am not attacking anyone who watches television. I struggled for a decade and have zero cause to be critical of others. Doesn't mean I won't speak against television viewing, I just don't condemn.)

One last major switch for the purge equipment category. I have almost eliminated the cell phone (getting one last missing ‘splitter’ for the Skype setup over the weekend) for the complete switchover this week.

What I am now thinking as I am closer to the end of my challenge is its worth addressing again next year. I like this make-a-(green)plan method. I think I may find categories that are missing or need to be revised. Fine. I just like the notion of keeping the challenge in manageable chunks. There are four categories here that are big, major themes, there are a couple that tools are a critical scrutiny issue, then some domestic items for comfort and lastly, the majority of categories pretty openly negotiable in my mind. A cleaning product or a purse is not a life critical decision. These are all categories though that I would recommend to anyone as a purge strategy towards a healthy sustainable plan. It pays to have the list written somewhere so you might organize around it when possible.

I haven’t even hit the last dozen categories . . .

L269: Local Living Economy

As I wrote earlier this week, the money economy we all know should not be our only prototype for economic structure. Love as exchange – barter, lend or give is an unmeasurable, but powerful approach. Another aspect of redefining normal or recalibrating the defaults is to adjust the economy at a local level with maximizing profits NOT being the goal.

A friend from Philadelphia sent me the following article about Judy Wicks, owner of White Dog Café in Philadelphia. When I lived in Philadelphia eighteen years ago, I went to the White Dog Café with my friend. At the time I didn’t know about Judy Wicks. I would love the think my friend has met her or knows her now.
In addition to her for-profit endeavors, Wicks has founded two nonprofits — White Dog Community Enterprises, and the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia — as well as cofounded the national Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (balle). Wicks defines a “living economy” as one that promotes healthy natural life and vibrant community life, while supporting long-term economic vitality. Community wealth and self-reliance are built, she says, by producing necessities — such as food, energy, and clothing — as locally as possible. Her integrity, articulateness, and vision have made her a leader, and she travels extensively to spread the gospel of localism to groups around the nation and world. She is currently working on a book about the living-economy movement, Good Morning, Beautiful Business, to be published by Chelsea Green in 2009. She is also coauthor of The White Dog Cafe Cookbook.[snip]

Kupfer: The goal of traditional investment strategy is to maximize profits. Why are you working to change that?

Wicks: One reason that many people want a high return on their investment is that they’re afraid of not having enough money when they’re old. In indigenous societies, security in old age comes from the wealth of the community, not from individual income. If we felt secure in our communities, we wouldn’t be afraid of how we might end up. But our society often does not include elderly people in the community. We marginalize them. It’s no wonder we’re all afraid of being old and penniless. What could be worse in our society?

The alternative to the stock market is investing your money in your own community so that you receive a modest financial return and also a “living return,” which is the benefit of living in a more sustainable local economy and a healthier community. I made the decision to take all my money out of the stock market and put it into Philadelphia’s Reinvestment Fund. I get a straight financial return of between 4.5 and 5.5 percent, and the money I invest also benefits my community. For instance, it helped to finance the wind turbines that produce the electricity the White Dog Cafe buys. Money invested in the stock market, on the other hand, is just taken out of the community.
We’re taught that we’re suckers if we don’t make the highest profit or pay the lowest price. If you invest where you don’t make as much money, then you’re a loser. There’s no thought given to the effect our financial decisions have on the long-term well-being of our communities.

Kupfer: Has the notion of a living return caught on?

Wicks: Many people have been moving their money into socially responsible investment funds, which avoid investing in businesses that damage the environment and exploit workers. It was originally thought that you would get less return from these screened funds, but it hasn’t turned out that way, which shows that sustainable companies can be profitable. I see this as a first step toward community reinvestment, because it shows a growing mindfulness about the effects of investing. Community reinvestment is growing — the Reinvestment Fund in Philadelphia is constantly getting new investors — but not every city or town has such a financial vehicle. We need more local banks, credit unions, and funds that keep our investments in our community.

Kupfer: So far community reinvestment does mean lower returns. How do you convince people that it’s in their best interest to accept less financial gain in exchange for this living return?

Wicks: Investing in your community is in your self-interest. You’re investing in businesses that don’t pollute the air you breathe, and clean air is as much a benefit as monetary payback. I believe I get a more reliable return on my investments this way, because sometimes the stock market loses money. I feel confident that I’ll come out better in the long run than my friends who have invested in the stock market, and at the same time, I’ll be benefiting my community. So it’s not necessarily a sacrifice to invest locally and responsibly.

Also we should invest in enterprises we want to see grow. Do we want businesses that are beneficial to life, or ones that are harmful?

If your community does not have a reinvestment fund, you can put your money into a credit union or local bank, or invest in funds that benefit other communities around the world; they often let you earmark your investment for a particular region.

[snip] Kupfer: When Mahatma Gandhi fought British tyranny in India in the 1940s, he emphasized the need for Indians to produce food and other products locally.

Wicks: Exactly. Corporations today are controlling our lives the same way the British controlled life in India, and I’m basically using Gandhi’s methods to fight them. His vision was that a self-reliant population could throw off British rule nonviolently. So he advised people to grow their own food and make their own clothes. That’s why you see photos of him behind a spinning wheel, because he tried to teach the Indian people that, rather than send the raw materials to Britain to be made into clothing, they could make their own homespun clothes, which he always wore. The Indian people had gotten themselves into a situation of reliance on the British, who had turned all the family farms into plantations to grow cotton or flax or bananas for export.

The U.S. did the same thing to Cuba: turned the whole island into farms producing sugar and beef and tobacco for export, so that there were no community farms left. In India millions died of starvation and Cuba almost experienced famine when the Soviet Union collapsed. To survive they beat their swords into plowshares, training soldiers to become farmers. In fact, everyone became a farmer — at least, part time — even doctors and they turned every inch of available land into gardens. I went to Cuba five times during that period, and it was amazing to see the community gardens. One time I brought along an organic farmer from Pennsylvania, and he told me how amazed he was that the Cubans had such advanced organic-farming methods. They were organic by accident, because they couldn’t afford petroleum-based fertilizers and chemicals, or even gasoline to run tractors. But now they’re ahead of the curve when it comes to reducing dependency on oil and building a healthy, self-reliant food system. [snip]

Kupfer: Is there any way to build the movement without cynically hoping for a disaster that forces people to change their ways?

Wicks: People tend not to change if they feel comfortable and satisfied, but the truth is that we are not satisfied in a spiritual and emotional way. Studies show that Americans are less happy now than they were in the fifties. I think going local and sustainable is part of the pursuit of happiness. We have a craving for community. We want relationships with the butcher and the baker and the farmer who grows our food and the person who makes our clothes. As I said, there is no such thing as one sustainable household or business; it’s about being part of a community. Sustainability requires working together toward a common goal, and there is joy in doing that. If more people realized this, I think they’d get on board. Nevertheless, it will take a disaster to change some people’s behavior. I just hope that, as climate change makes life harder and harder and the price of transportation gets higher and higher, those of us who are working now to build sustainable local systems can provide an example that others will follow.

This is the story of our times. Reclaim our communities, take care of our neighbors, ourselves and our world.

L268: Like a Man

I have shown goats that faint – and compared Leadership for the Democrats to them.
I include goats that climb trees, and now goats that yell like a man from Peru. Write your own caption.

h/t WebEcoist

L267: Let's Start Here

If I had any money at all and a bit of land, I would start buying and stockpiling shipping containers. This is housing with very little required to move in.

Hat tip The Good Human
Photo – Chris Jordan

Update: The high end version for the rich at Inhabitat.

Update 2: The dystopic version at Treehugger

L266: Living PeopleTrees

I love this idea. It flies in the face of permaculture and any naturalist approach to growing trees. But, for me is allows for joyous creativity. I doubt the tree cares that is shaped – any more than the arbitrary forces of wind, rocks and other elements that shape a tree’s growing pattern.
Say what you will about the sins of anthropomorphizing nature,
I have always been drawn to the caricature of the human form. This is especially true of the androgynous form. I rationalize by saying it just shows we are all related.

Arborsmith Studios has this video showing a whole history of tree shaping.

L265: Leucasena (Guaje)

Apologies for practically phoning this in . . . There isn’t much personal testimony for this pod food. I liked it, it intrigued me and I must try to grow it. Like flax I could see it as a ubiquitous addition to most every meal.

Glossary: guaje
Long, flat, green pods filled with seeds about the size of a small lima bean and used in Latin American cooking. The pod and seeds have a garlicky quality, and fresh pods are often chopped up and used to flavor various dishes. When the pods dry and turn brown, the seeds are scraped out and can be eaten raw or added to salads or cooked dishes. Roasting the seeds lends a nutty quality, which makes them delicious as a snack. They're also often ground and used as a thickening for cooked sauces. Fresh or dried guaje (also spelled cuaje and huaje) can be purchased at Latin American markets. In Southeast Asia, guaje pods are known as wild tamarind.

A multipurpose tree with extremely wide range of uses, based on naturalized and cultivated stands throughout tropics and subtropics. Uses of wood include fuelwood, lumber, pulpwood (paper, rayon), craftwood and charcoal. Uses of foliage include animal fodder, green manure and food (juvenile shoots). Feeding can be unrestricted to ruminant animals, but must be re-stricted to poultry and non-ruminants, where it is often used for its high contents of Vitamin A and protein. Uses of legumes and seeds include animal fodder, tea, medicinal and food (juvenile beans). Trees are used as ornamentals, windbreaks, shade trees, sources of green manure, and as stabilizing hedges on hillslopes. Gum is used as a substitute for gum arabic; seeds are strung into leis and jewelry; poles are used to prop bananas or crops like beans.

Mexico and Central America, origin obscured by wide distribution by man; Oaxaca translates "the place where huaxin (leucaena) grows."
Opening a pod and peeling off the seeds to eat reminds me of candy buttons

The pods and the stringy pod borders were too tough to just chew raw. The seeds were very pleasant in my salads, as a snack and in hot dishes. Here is another food I could eat year round.

This is my ongoing move towards learning the native foods of the region. Here are a few in a beautiful photograph. Amaranth and cactus aren’t included here.

Ancient Foods
Included are the Garambullo cactus, black sapote, mesquite, hog plums, corn, white wapote, chiles, guaje and acorns.

Further information from THE NEW FOOD LOVERS COMPANION, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

L264: Lovin’ the Neighbors, the Leap

Variations on the obligation to love one’s neighbor show up across both the religious and secular spectrum. They tend to provoke a range of responses - from those who attempt to sort out what loving people who are not part of your immediate tribe would mean, to those who reject the necessity. This is not an easy idea - and even if you can sort out what it means to love people who you may not know well, or like much, or even trust, or know how to get to knowing, liking and trusting - it is a damned hard thing to put into practice.

Weeks ago I read the above opening paragraph to a Casaubon’s Book post by Sharon Astyk and knew I wanted to think about this as it related to me and my community. At the time I was still feeling like my little mobile park community was more a community in addresses than in behaviors. I kept sort of whistling in the dark with picturing, hoping and wishing for more shared exchanges. When the young manager made the statement, “We need to love one another.” I responded to him by saying, “I don’t know if I would go that far.” Then I witnessed some very loving acts of kindness and support this weekend. In fact he personified love in responding in total immersion, total leap into the emergency by driving to the hospital, speaking to doctors, viewing x-rays and more for the neighbor in pain.

I will borrow heavily from Sharon’s post, but the best approach is to simply read in total from the original titled, Is Love Enough, Working With and Loving Your Neighbors Whether You Like Them or Not. How can one resist with an inviting title like that?

I lean on Sharon’s post because, as I have just said, I am a neophyte in turning away from the money economy to the structure of love exchanges. This is how she outlines this structure:

Because rather than talking about “working” with your neighbors or “getting along” I did want to talk about the problem of actually loving them, despite the difficulties that the word love raises. But I think it is the right word, if instead of thinking of “love” as a particular feeling you have to evoke, we think of it as a larger structure for our relationships, an economy if you will, in the, literal sense of the world, a way of organizing our world.

The danger, of course, of speaking about love is that it evokes a range of things - religious beliefs, romantic and familial feelings, and occasionally a certain dippy, intellectually vacant inspecificity, the idea that our relationships will all be productive if we do group hugs and sing in a circle regularly. But in fact, I’d make the case for a language and world of love that is as rigorous as any mathematics, as formally structured as any economy. That is, it is not loving people to express things lovingly all the time. It is not loving one another simply to articulate your common ground, or to allow everyone to “express” their differences, being universally supportive, or falling backwards off a chair. Love is needing each other - not in easy or cheap ways, but really, truly needing one another. It does not require that you share beliefs, or even like each other - all of us can call examples from our biological families that support this fact.

I wrote about the culture of borrow and barter at the beginning of my living with little impact year. I have found a myriad of ways to incorporate this into my own life. Beyond my newsletter writing, my community interactions are more limited to a small circle. This ‘loving neighbors challenge’ framed as Sharon does in her post; it goes further. It is risky, it is frightening. Herein lies the leap, the jumping off point. This next is the part that transformed one of my vulnerable inclinations.

Money allows you to figure out what things are “worth” - with barter or simple sharing, there are things that can never be quite worked out. Is that firewood equivalent to 20 dozen eggs and a bushel of plums? Was it really enough for me to babysit in exchange for the help getting the gutters cleaned out? [. . . ]

Things never come out evenly. You always have to be grateful, and thus, dependent. If we give up all the things that have stood as barriers between ourselves and the people we need, that have enabled us never to be dependent, we’re never again going to be square. The only hope is that the person you are working with or bartering with or sharing with is secretly afraid that she/he hasn’t done his fair share either.

But then again, that’s what love is, isn’t it? I’ve never met anyone who loved someone, or was truly loved by someone else who didn’t secretly think that their spouse (or parents, or child or friend) was crazy to love them, that if they could really see all the way through, they’d realize how inequitable things are, and how little they deserve that love. So you end up just being grateful, feeling damned lucky that this time, you got more than you ever deserved. That some miracle, or gift appeared to you, and someone loves you.

Now that is certainly an incentive to love, to encourage imbalance on the side of generosity. This idea alone is inviting to me. I feel I have only touched upon a little shining treasure here. It’s like the start of a fascinating path of bread crumbs beginning right here. It is a path that we need follow by turning away from and by tuning out the noisy freeways beside us.

L263: Lighting Purge

Six years ago a friend helped me in my home bathroom remodel by removing an ancient lighting fixture and installing a 3’ long fluorescent fixture I happened to have in the garage. The only thing was it was pretty ugly and I had to have him install it vertically in the tiny space. My idea was to find dozens and dozens of incandescent bulbs and to glue these bulbs (with silicone) to the outside of the fluorescent fixture. Well I searched high and low for some killer deal on incandescent bulbs with no luck. This was long before we were being told to get rid of our incandescent bulbs and to replace them with the compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs.

I have been thinking of this project again. It seems there should be so many incandescent bulbs lying around or burning out. I have 2 incandescent bulbs myself that I won’t be using and I figured my neighbors might have some too. I put a notice in the newsletter and a box for light bulb donations in the laundry room. I see that someone put some short fluorescent tubes so far. I have some of these too.

I’d like to try something like it for the ugly exterior fixtures at the driveway entrances to where I live. Or maybe for a mock chandelier outside my back door. I don’t have anything definitive in mind. I just love the idea of using up these cast-off light bulbs as a massing around a light source. I do have this image using the long fluorescent tubes. I may have to punt.

This whole project is dependent upon what comes my way both in bulbs and in inspiration. I welcome ideas for both in the comments.

I am envious of the Irish experience. A woman soon to be a new neighbor shared her story of living in Ireland when plastic bags had to be paid for and how this changed the Irish overnight into cloth carrying consumers. Related to light bulbs I read this:
In a bold and laudable move, Ireland has just announced plans to ban the sale of incandescent light-bulbs by the year 2009. This makes it the first European nation to outlaw the old energy hogging bulbs.

John Gormley, the Minister for the Department of the Environment states: “The aim of such a move will be to end the use of incandescent light bulbs in Ireland. These bulbs use technology invented during the age of the steam engine. By getting rid of these bulbs we will save 700,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year. It has been estimated that consumers will save €185 million in electricity costs every year as a result of the measure.”

All old incandescent light bulbs will be phased out of the Irish market starting in January 2009. As incandescent bulbs break, Irish citizens will have to replace them with more energy efficient options such as Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs.
GO IRELAND! Let’s step it up US!

Hat tip Inhabitat

You know, I have the CFL bulbs in my home now, but I have been thinking about the following for awhile. I am selfishly going to cobble this product plug at the tail end of this post in hopes that I will remember where to find the information when I happen upon the several hundred dollars I’d need to replace everything with LED.


A bright way to be good to the Earth You want to be environmentally conscious, but doing so can be damned inconvenient. For example, replacing one of your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents can save about $30 of power over the lifetime of the bulb. Not bad, but fluorescents are dim, and they flicker. Plus, while they do last 10 times longer than incandescents, throwing them away is a pain in the neck due to the mercury content.

These new LED light bulbs are tons brighter, don't flicker, don't require special handling, and last fifty times longer than incandescents! What's more, they use even less energy than fluorescent bulbs. The Bright Star bulb puts out as much light as a 100 watt bulb, but uses only one-tenth the power. Plus, it can burn for 11 years! All told, factoring in the cost of bulbs, that's an estimated savings of $430 throughout the life of the bulb. Sure, they cost more than a normal bulb, but they last so long and save so much in electricity costs, they more than make up for it in less than a year's usage. Choose from the wide-range of bulbs we stock.
$49.99 - $119.99

Or for a little less expense option . . .


A great idea in lighting The light bulb is often used in cartoons to depict the formation of a great idea. We think that building LEDs into a bulb that can be screwed into a standard 120V light socket is a great idea. These LED Light Bulbs come in three different sizes with an output up to 120 Lumens.

The bulbs are also long-life and low power consumption. Vivid - This 18 LED light bulb makes an excellent high definition reading light. Perfect to help you not feel guilty about leaving an accent light on all night. Run it for twelve hours a day for a whole year at a cost of about 80 cents. Makes a great reading light. Vivid Plus - Turn any household lamp into a low cost, high-tech marvel by installing the Vivid Plus LED Light Bulb. This ultra-bright light bulb shares the energy efficiency of the Vivid and casts a broader array of light. Particularly well suited for reading. 36 LEDs. Spotlight - A money-saving LED bulb that fits your porch spotlights and the motion-sensor lights on your garage or roofline. Spotlight uses just 8 Watts of electricity to power 60 ultra-bright White LEDs.

The light is ideal in pitch-black conditions, and casts the signature blue-white light that's as soothing as it is bright. On average, it will cost you just $4.00 per year to run this LED Spotlight in your home or workplace. Fits PAR 38 sized fixtures. LED Light Bulbs also have these great features. * Long life - up to 10 years * Low power consumption (about 1/30th of a standard bulb) * Output: Vivid (31 Lumens), Vivid Plus (60 Lumens), Spotlight (120 Lumens) * Great in a directional lamp for reading, mood or porch light * These bulbs are generally not intended as a complete replacement for incandescents - these bulbs are lower output but more focused * 120V bulbs * Two-year warranty
$21.99 - $35.99

L262: Lenders Be Damned

This week I will be talking about love, community and light. But there is an urgency this morning to say a simple thing. Contact Congress.

This is well and truly the Shock Doctrine as Naomi Klein described it in her book by the same name. The federal bail out of the banks is how the financial sector will be given vastly more unregulated power than it already has. I guess there is no limit to greed.

Call your Congress Critters today to nix the blank check to the Treasury.

  • Contact your Senator here.
  • Contact your Representative here.
At least we can go through the pretense of a democracy or at least jam up the phone lines and the toobz. The banks reaped profits, they need to take the risks.

Update: Here is another way to fight. Sign this petition to Harry Reid.

I am not going to write about it because it will raise my blood pressure and it has been covered well in almost every blog I visit. I am so fed up I will make too simplistic an argument out of pure frustration. Here are just a few if you have been away from the news (a good place to be).


Casaubon's Book

Common Dreams

Little Blog in the Big Woods

Another update: Anger is vital as an emotion. It is as vital as any other. What we need to be careful about is how and where we weild it. Don't be ugly to the people who answer the phone, but you can let them know how angry you are at what is happening.

K261: Kindness

Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind, and the third is to be kind”. ~ Henry James

A critique by a British author a couple of weeks ago stated, “So much of it, in the vast morass of ‘reality TV’, is about engineering situations where people will be rude to each other. “ And what seems to follow is that it becomes a habitual to view things from the vantage point of what is different, opposition, us and them, tit-for- tat , blame and disrespect.

Meanwhile, what’s universally shared gets ignored. All we have in common that is valued is overlooked. It’s like TV producers, political pundits, hate radio hosts and corporate marketers are constantly poking us (in our emotional bodies) to keep us at odds and rude. More importantly, it divides us. We are less resilient when we are fractured, alone.

Sometimes it is better to just act with civility even when we aren’t feeling it. Because being rude and cruel to each other doesn’t benefit us in any way. And this vulnerability to manipulation is creepy.

Of course openly dealing with issues up front and directly beats backbiting. Okay, sometimes we don’t get this right. *sigh*

Even so, we need each other more than in any time in generations, if we are to survive. It matters that we show each other respect. It is practical—besides being right.
This was the lead article in the community newsletter I just distributed in the park this week. I used the concept and opening sentence from Why Civility Matters [. . .] I am still in awe this early afternoon at what I witnessed last night in my neighbors' kindnesses.

First of all, we had a party to welcome back a neighbor who was in New York all summer and just got back. We were also celebrating the Autumnal Equinox. Last weekend I’d asked one woman, a really gregarious registered nurse, to collect money for food and she zoomed around and collected almost $200 in just a couple days. Astonishing.

Then we had three people shop, cook and set up most of yesterday. Very exhausting. And a bunch of us made things to bring (that will be another post) to the party. Now, this is all pretty standard for any group get together. There are several event planner types and the ball gets rolling.

What really touched me and impressed me last night was a remarkable atmosphere of good will. A couple of neighbors who have lived here 16 years, who had just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary came and we toasted them – because they are leaving. Their son wants them to live closer to his home, 22 miles from here. Very heartwarming. And, the woman who bought their place came to the party with a friend. They joined in and I was impressed with the way they were made to feel welcome.

Another couple of times during the party I had two different neighbors suggest making a plate for people who didn’t make it to the party. One older Mexican couple was apparently embarrassed about having not donated. They were really surprised when their neighbor (who speaks Spanish) followed through with her own suggestion and took them food. BTW, she had injured her foot so she hobbled over with the help of a cane loaned by one kind guy and on the arm of another kind guy. It was contagious, this kindness. It feels like I am just being gratuitous, but I need to also add that this woman got another Spanish speaking neighbor to the party by persuasion.

The R.N. not only gathered money, set up tables, invited the new tenant and her guest – she ran home and brought paper plates. She knew I was the one pushing the neighbors to bring their own plate and fork, so I continued to harass her. She also made a plate and took it to my closest neighbor who had contributed to the party, but just wasn’t into the crowd scene. In fact this nurse and another neighbor checked twice at this home. Heartwarming. And yes, another spontaneous gesture very late in the evening was bumping into our Mexican family and convincing them to come, despite Mom being so shy. Her teenage son translates and it grows easier.

This Autumnal Equinox gathering brought out half of the community (a new record), a victory with the Spanish-speaking family (one of our main goals) coming, every single bite of food was eaten, courtesy and goodwill prevailed and the conversation was varied, lively and engaging (and in two languages). The weather was perfect and the firelight under the stars was magical.

Even so, the night took a frightening turn when one of the primary event planners, a man who'd shopped all day and cooked the chicken and grilled eggplant all evening had a fall. He had gone into his home adjacent to the picnic area and had a misstep that sent him flying into a door frame shoulder first. He laid there screaming out to us all. It took at least 10 minutes (he thinks) for someone to respond. But, then our true heroes stepped up. The RN was there immediately stopping the blood flow from his face cuts where he’d hit a glass pane and broken it with his head in the fall. Two men, one a former fire fighter / marine and another who is inarguably the most thoughtful guy in the whole park. Between these 3 they stabilized a broken shoulder, staunched the flow of blood and got this man to the VA hospital for further treatment.

I just got a call from him this morning and he sounds good despite a broken arm bone. He filled me in about his no-work, his canceled clients for his second job (catering meals) and the kinds of medication he was given. Apparently he'll need an operation this next week. He said the hero nurse returned this morning to wash all his dishes, to give him a sponge bath and to help him into clean clothes. She even fixed the butterfly bandage on his nose. He is so overwhelmed with the outpouring of everyone on his behalf.

This is what I envision as community. I am awed. Next to the generosity lavished by my neighbors, I feel I am dragging my feet. There is much to do. And as my last post stated in the Brian Eno quote,
. . . The dream becomes an invisible force which pulls us forward. By this process it begins to come true. The act of imagining somehow makes it real . . . And what is possible in art becomes thinkable in life”.

Consolation, Joe Rosenthal

Joe Rosenthal's art, the human figure is presented with impressive weight. The solid rounded shapes of Consolation display a substantial inner fortitude, what some critics have called "enduring universal toughness." The artist does not portray the human form as fragile or teetering on the edge of collapse. Instead, Rosenthal's heavy sculpture seems able to hold its own ground against the chaos of conflicting forces.

K260: katecontinues . . .

“Humans are capable of a unique trick, creating realities by first imagining them, by experiencing them in their minds. …As soon as we sense the possibility of a more desirable world, we begin behaving differently, as though that world is starting to come into existence, as though, in our mind’s eye, we are already there. The dream becomes an invisible force which pulls us forward. By this process it begins to come true. The act of imagining somehow makes it real… And what is possible in art becomes thinkable in life”.

Today I had the most delicious serendipitous discovery while visiting the world of the Totnes Transition Towns. I spotted this quote above by my favorite musical artist, Brian Eno.

A word about my screen name . . . Like most people who are old enough to look back over some decades, some major life milestones, I have become more profoundly convinced there is no ‘arrival’ in life. Had we all been taught through fairy tales that ended, “And they lived, they changed, they lost, they started over and over again, sometimes in deep pain and sometimes happily - ever after" - we might have been better prepared . . .

Okay, that might be a hard sell, but it might disengage us from the silly vision of a static, happy state of bliss. (I won’t even touch the other major flaw for women – that some guy called prince, savior or hero must step in to make it all okay for us. Blech.)

Continuing is sometimes a scattered amnesia-tinged series of experiences. When I was a young girl, I had dreams of living out in the wilds, living as the Indians did. I once thought I would mother 8 children and I saw myself for a time married to a priest. I envisioned myself as a priest.

I enrolled in college after a ten year hiatus of marriage, bearing two children, years of restaurant work, human services work, retail wage slavery and establishing a home.

In my college creative writing classes I wrote a short story that was autobiographical. Well it wasn’t my actual life; it was my projection, my view of an ideal life at retirement age for me. The setting was an earth sheltered home in the mountains of Colorado. I incorporated my best friend into the story and included my dreams of my children’s lives. I described a glass wall that revealed the earth’s layers for the room my son, a geologist used when he visited. Everything was solar powered and I grew my own food. It didn’t happen that way in real life.

Sometimes I felt like my path had changed and I would not be returning to an earlier dream. There was a period in my life as a reader where I saw myself as a writer, like the protagonist ‘Anna’ in the short story. That part of me craved the city, the exposure to great minds, great art, great daily interactions with the people around me. I wanted to express what burned inside me, especially as I felt drawn to other women who were living in this patriarchal structure. I felt it a calling and thought that the written word could touch more people and be more effective. I was growing more and more solitary, compared with the gregarious template of my upbringing.

I did have this experience, in my own way, in Manhattan. But, I didn’t touch lives with the written word. I touch thousands of lives through the world of commercial design; from laying out workstations for hundreds, thousands of workers in 23 different NYC government agencies, through my work as project manager of the Statue of Liberty Gift Concession redesign after the botched Centennial in the 80’s.

Lots of remembering and forgetting in a life of interconnected longings.
These images, urges and drives are all still within me, though many have been sated or transfigured into new shapes. What I am most happy about is the envisioning itself. I feel masterful in the act of daydreaming. I believe I might be able to teach a course on it. And, I believe in it. Did I mention that, in my opinion, daydreaming is a mix of seriously practical planning tools, whimsy, risk, audacity and trust?

In my own life this is emphatically true. A young woman who stopped outside my door with her friend one day to ask if she could photograph my place. She told me that my home and how I had a raised garden, wormery, found object art etc. was exactly what she wanted for herself. I assured her she would have it. I said, “I am 60 and it took many daydreams, many little steps to get here.”
And, it is not over . . . I’m just buzzing inside. I also spotted this earth sheltered home at Dwell today. This is what hurtled me back to my writing about ‘Anna’ in the earth sheltered home on the Colorado mountainside so many years ago. A rush of memories came back to me and I bookmarked this information along with the dozens of other straw bale and other alternative housing websites I’ve collected over the years. This post cites a book called $50 and Up Underground House Book that looks inviting.

What we are experiencing in this country is chilling. I rely heavily on my visions, my dreams to continue.

Update: I think I should give some daydreaming, envisioning examples. One always hears whistful statements like, "If I could afford to live in ___, I would move there." I just read that in the comments section at Shakesville blog. For the record, I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan on my entry level $20K salary - with my teenage daughter. I am now living in a So. California coastal community on less than 10K a year. There are ways around common knowledge or conventional thinking. There are choices and trade-offs, and that is the magical push-pull process of planning and dreaming.

K260: Keyhole Garden

I am really captivated with this design for an urban garden. When I was at school we studied anthropometrics or the body measurement percentiles, in order to design for a wide range of body dimensions. This was followed up for the more universally known expression, ergonomics or the study of worker’s bodies in relation to tasks. The idea is to make objects, products and processes that function well with the human form.

Besides designing a garden to fit the human scale, human movements there is the second reason I love this garden and that is the environment. This garden presumes a hostile, poor and even toxic environment. It can be place on a hard surface, even concrete. It builds into the garden all of the components for the chemistry and biology, the engines of soil production. Layer by layer these simple components like tin cans, clay chards, manure, wood ash are added to the mix.

The next reason is the wise use of water and waste to keep vital nutrients to feed the soil at the very core of the garden. With the central well for composting, watering easily accessible it assures greater success at maintaining the garden. It is designed overall to make it easy to successfully grown one's own food.

More sources here and here.

K259: Killing

Just saying that word is chilling in some way. One artist studies killing, predators in her own apartment experiment. Her findings became her art, her photographs in a book published in 2000 titled Food Chain Encounters Between Mates, Predators, and Prey.

Review of her work at a Canadian gallery showing in 2003:
Viewing Catherine Chalmers' exhibition Food Chain is a little like watching The Sopranos on television. Both are about the drama of sex, intrigue, predators, consumption and death. The twenty-two large-scale colour photographs in Chalmers' exhibition are the result of a long-term project, which involved raising insects and other animals in order to re-create the predator-prey encounters one would normally see in nature and then capturing them on film. In viewing the exhibition we are able to witness a food chain that takes place in the artist's New York loft. A caterpillar eats a tomato, a praying mantis eats a caterpillar, and a frog eats a praying mantis. The result is humorous, horrific, surprising and unsettling.

Photographed on a stark white background with controlled lighting, the creatures are removed from their usual contexts and we are forced to examine the vivid detail of their actions. "I'm interested in how, these days, we're unhinged from the natural world," says Chalmers. "The truth is, these life and death struggles happen all around us, all the time. And in some ways, the very beginning of our desire to be civilized is a desire to be out of the food chain ourselves." Her riveting photographs reinvent natural history for a culture increasingly distanced from nature.

I heard about Catherine last night on an archived show Animals on Ira Glass’ This American Life. Very moving. During the program these points were made by the narrator and Chalmers.

It made her see animals like most people. She found herself taking on sides, and these sides change. You take the side of the underdog, then this one becomes the predator and you change sides again. It is a twin set of emotions, disgust and fascination. She goes on to point out the hierarchy of death. We put our human emotions into it when you can see a full grown mouse, that can see feel in a way that is clear, it get harder. She makes the point about who gets to decide what makes a pest versus a predator; the mouse, the snake or us?

I admit to having killed hundreds of caterpillar this last summer. It was vile. Day after day killing and still they came and wiped out the lettuce, spinach, beans, etc. And yet I will continue to plant. At least I am paying attention and I am paying attention to details more intently than any time in my life.
Chalmers said she thinks of her apartment as an oasis, in the middle of Soho. She loves coming from the cars, the concrete to living things. In another away it is the middle of a planet full of nature. All around things are eating, having sex and dying and we are in the middle of it unaware.
Now I have also possibly killed hundreds of worms. I am afraid to look. Fuck master composter, I’m coward composter. I am headed to compost class tonight, hoping to get the backbone to face my wormery despairs. I need to face this reality.


Kate loved making new okra plain quick recipe (solar) - tomato ugali version with 'x' - you'll z00t!

Where 'x' is my flavoring of choice, fennel. Makes this 95% homegrown from food I grew, just feet from my front door.

First off I was anxious to fix an okra meal that wasn’t gumbo. It isn’t that there is anything in the world wrong with gumbo. It is just that this is the only recipe American’s seem to know for preparing okra.

The decision to try Ugali, the East Africa cornmeal mush part of a standard diet, has the added bonus of using up some cornmeal I have had for too long. I am trying to keep corn in any form out of my diet, because any food from agribusiness will have corn in it. Therefore, it seems like a prudent idea to keep corn to a minimum when consciously selecting food. My occasional meals or snacks add enough corn products to my system. The Ugali was also deliberate, to introduce me to an international dish for something different.

Eating a vegetarian meal was another bonus with this version, besides trying to eat within 100 feet of my home. Because I used a bit of butter for flavoring I couldn’t be considered a vegan meal. The salt, pepper, butter & cornmeal were not local, hence 95%.

I also got a kick out of using no energy except the sun to cook this meal. The utter simplicity of walking outside to gather, coming inside to rinse off, add water, season and take outside to the solar cooker – done in a couple hours is exhilarating.

Besides, it was fun to write a recipe introduction with the alphabet: K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Okra in the Solar Oven

4 okra, chopped
½ kg. tomatoes, chopped
1½ cups of water

Combine okra and tomatoes, and add to a dark pot. Add water, and cover pot with lid. Cook in sun for 2 hours. Serve over rice, pasta or the traditional East African staple ugali (white corn meal cooked to a texture similar to polenta.This recipe was from the refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya where the Sudanese are being housed.

ugali – less than double water to cornmeal & salt. Boil water, add cornmeal slowly and cook until done (4 min or so) Add butter to flavor.

Mucilaginous vegetables – Chile cautions these aren’t good for stock.

Okra Kakuma style (Submitted by SCI staff at Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya)
Remember this family? I posted this photo and others from around the world in Global Groceries.

The Aboubakar family of Darfur province, Sudan, in front of their tent in the Breidjing Refugee Camp, in eastern Chad, with a week's worth of food. © 2005 Peter Menzel from 'Hungry Planet: What the World Eats'

Meat, Fish & Eggs: $0.58**
Goat meat, dried and on bone, 9 oz; fish, dried, 7 oz. Note: Periodically, such as at the end of Ramadan, several families collectively purchase a live animal to slaughter and share. Some of its meat is eaten fresh in soup and the rest is dried.

Fruits, Vegetables & Nuts: $0.51**
Limes, small, 5; pulses ration, 4.6 lb, the seeds of legumes such as peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, and fava beans. Red onions, 1 lb; garlic, 8 oz; okra, dried, 5 oz; red peppers, dried, 5 oz; tomatoes, dried, 5 oz.

Condiments: $0.13**
Sunflower oil ration, 2.1 qt; white sugar ration, 1.4 lb; dried pepper, 12 oz; salt ration, 7.4 oz; ginger, 4 oz.

Water, 77.7 gal, provided by Oxfam, and includes water for all purposes. Rations organized by the United Nations with the World Food Programme.

Food Expenditure for One Week: 685 CFA francs/$1.23
**Market value of food rations, if purchased locally: $24.37

Post Script: I fixed the okra and hated it. I didn't z00t! I sent out an email to my neighbors offering up this okra that another neighbor had planted and harvested, that I'd cooked in the solar oven. NO TAKERS - out of several dozen. ZERO. Okra is an aquired taste it seems. I actually didn't get as far as the ugali because the main dish was so off-putting.

This is a tough one. The idea of something can get in the way of reality. I had to shake myself and just stop. I was going to just ditch this whole post too until I read Chile's post about a canning dish she didn't like. It is a very real aspect of what we do. I compare it to when I get sick and vomit. Sadly, nobody plans to eat a perfectly fine meal and then lose it - without virtually any nutritional gains. It just happens.

K257: Kismet and Kindness with Food

Today’s offering was to be kohlrabi. I think it is the most sci-fi, bizarre looking food I planted this summer. I ordered heirloom seeds of this purple type. It grew really high and strong. I hoped to try several recipes like this one from Foodie Farm Girl.
4 kohlrabi bulbs with leaves
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces cultivated mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas), quartered
3 Tablespoons cream (or milk, chicken stock, olive oil, or water)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Trim the kohlrabi bulbs, peeling them if the skins seem tough. Rinse the leaves (discarding any that are yellow) pat them dry, and coarsely chop. Set aside. But the bulbs into 1-inch chunks.

2. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil, and add the kohlrabi chunks. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, another 1 to 2 minutes. Do not let garlic brown.

4. Add the mushrooms and the reserved kohlrabi leaves to the skillet. Cover, and cook 5 minutes. Then uncover, and cook, stirring, until all the liquid has evaporated, 3 minutes. Set the skillet aside.

5. Drain the kohlrabi chunks and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Add the mushroom mixture and all the remaining ingredients. Purée until smooth.

6. Transfer the purée to a saucepan and reheat over low heat, stirring, 2 minutes.

Or I was going to go with this Chile Chews' kohlrabi recipe with fennel, since I also grew fennel. It is one plant that did amazingly well in my raised bed.

Well, the pests decimated my kohlrabi and I was really stumped for this week’s offering as I didn’t have a backup plan. Then my new neighbor, a young landscape designer who works at the local botanical gardens drove up. He had a gift for me, an exotic, gorgeous dragon fruit. It was grown at the botanical gardens and he found it lying on the ground.

What a delicious surprise. It is just as sci-fi, bizarre looking food as the kohlrabi. I am eating it raw as it is overly ripe and ready to scoop out the inside fruit with a spoon. It is so much like kiwi in flavor.

It was kismet, not to mention really kind of my neighbor, because the ‘smell-me, upscale” markets charge over $10 for this baby. Lucky me to have such good neighbors . . . Can you imagine such a fantastic treat grown one mile from my home and delivered by a handsome young man? Pinch me.

K256: Keep Clean Without Running Water

This article by Ole Wik in Mother Earth News just fascinated me, so I am including the whole piece.
A pioneer in the Alaskan wilderness tells us how to . . .

Some 10 years back, I left the city and set out to build a cabin in the Alaskan wilderness. It was late September before I could actually begin construction of the dwelling, and the rivers were already freezing . . . so I had to work hard and quick!
Yet — despite the rigorous physical labor — I'd go for days without a bath. At the time I told myself I couldn't wash because of the cold weather and primitive camp conditions . . . but now I know that I simply hadn't yet adjusted to "new" means of keeping clean.

Since then, I've spent as much as 26 months at a stretch without even seeing running water, and I've very rarely missed my daily bath. I'd like to pass on what I've learned to any of you who may be about to quit the city and its conveniences . . . whether on a permanent or a temporary basis.


I once doubted the word of a friend who told me that he'd been taught to take a complete bath with an army helmet full of water. Now I know he was telling the truth, because I've done it myself . . . using a hard hat while fighting forest fires. The fact is, it's possible to clean every part of your body but your hair — using an ordinary metal wash basin — with only seven cups of water . . . which is just under half a gallon!

A complete bush-country bathing outfit should include a 15-inch metal basin, washcloth, towel, soap, baking soda, and fingernail brush. It's best to stay away from enamel basins (they'll eventually crack, and you'll ram an enamel chip under your fingernail sooner or later), and steel tubs will rust . . . in spite of their shiny appearance when new. Aluminum, on the other hand, has never failed me. Whatever type of basin you use, however, keep a fingernail brush handy for scrubbing out the dirt film after you bathe.

The real secret of this water-conserving wash method is the elimination of soap from most of the bath. If you really lather up, you face the problem of getting rid of the suds, and — when you're washing from a small tub — this can be such a chore that you may start to skip baths altogether.

You'll be better off if you take a bath — without soap — every single day. Simply rub down well with a hot, wet washrag, rinsing the cloth frequently. (You may want to use soap on the hairy parts of the body, but this small amount of suds can usually be rinsed off with a damp rag.)


Hair washing presents a special problem . . . again, because it's very difficult to rinse off the suds. Leftover soap or shampoo is bound to make your scalp itch, but you can get your "crowning glory" clean — and avoid the "itches" — by using baking soda!

You see, all soaps are made by combining a fat and an alkali (usually lye) . . . and baking soda — itself a mild alkali — seems to react with hair oils to produce its own natural, mild washing product. Under the proper conditions, soda will even create a copious lather.

To wash your hair, put two or three cups of soft water into the basin . . . (make sure the liquid is as hot as your scalp can stand!). Add two or three tablespoons of baking soda (NOT baking powder), then bend over the basin and soak your scalp. Comb the soda solution through your hair . . . backward, forward, and sideways. Any dirt will immediately begin to wash out, and — in a short time — will neutralize most of the soda. So after you've combed the solution through your hair several times, throw out the first batch of "soda water" and prepare another. Repeat the combing process, then pile your wet hair on top of your head to let the "bicarb shampoo" work while you take your bath, and brush your teeth.

When you "draw" your bath water, add a heaping teaspoon of soda to that liquid, too. Baking soda is a good cleaning and deodorizing agent, and I believe it has a beneficial effect on any kind of skin. (Pregnant women sometimes use it to relieve the itching sensation caused by their bellies' stretching.) My guess is that the mild alkali combines with skin oil — just as it does with hair oils — to form a natural soap. One thing's for sure . . . a soda wash leaves you feeling clean and refreshed.
After your bath, put a new supply of warm water in the basin, dunk your head again, massage your scalp with your finger tips, then comb out the soda water . . . along with the remaining dirt. You'll have a sweet-smelling, clean head of hair, and there'll be no leftover soap to make your scalp itch.

The key to a successful baking-soda shampoo is soft water, and I've found that I get the best results with melted snow. (Rainwater ought to be equally soft, but I think it may be affected by the containers — galvanized metal, especially — that you catch it in.) However, if you want to break away from soaps and shampoos, just try mixing up a baking soda solution using the softest water you're able to obtain. I can practically guarantee that you'll be pleased with the results!


There was a time when I felt that a "sponge bath" was something you got in the hospital when you were too sick to make it to the shower. Now that I've bathed out of a basin for 10 years, I realize that showers and bathtubs are nothing more than very nice — but also very unnecessary — luxuries.