Friday, June 22, 2007

Uncompensated advertisement

I'd just like to put in a plug here for a book that's great at thinking through the ramifications of living in a consumerist culture, while maintaining a laugh-out-loud sense of humor as well as a sense of proportion. It's called Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, by Judith Levine, and you can click here to buy it through your local independent bookstore. (Enter your zip code on the splash page.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Joyful, joyful

I was reading something about voice recently on somebody's blog (I can't find it now, and if it was your blog, I apologize profusely. My memory for sources is like a sieve), and it made me realize that it's time to do something about the voice in charge of this blog. If you were to listen to me, you'd get the impression that simplicity means a joyless guilt-ridden life, which I think is the impression that most Americans already have.

But while I may publicly kvetch here about my car guilt and my refrigerator purchase, IRL I try hard to consider my actions--before and after--and then move on. True, I get an unseemly amount of pleasure from "releasing my books into the wild" through BookCrossing or finding a pair of broken Adirondack chairs through FreeCycle and fixing them up again, but not, I don't think, because it allows me to circumvent the cycle of guilt and consumerism. As a Lutheran, I don't think I get to escape from guilt--we are all implicated (and the "we" is a slippery pronoun here, but let me finish) in an imperfect, in this case capitalist, system. Middle-class Americans much more than most. But again as a Lutheran, I don't think that's the end of the story. Grace happens, and we are freed to experience the abundance of creation. There is enough for everyone's needs (although obviously not for everyone's manufactured desires).

I'd like to figure out a way to focus this blog on my quest to find the "enough," especially in very small things.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Danger: invalid at the wheel

Today was the day I was going to sheet mulch a spot for the apple trees to go next year. Sheet mulching, for the uninitiated, means taking layers of various decomposable materials--first newspaper or cardboard to smother the weeds, then straw or leaves or or something full of carbonaceous goodness, mixed together with a few lawn clippings, then already-achieved compost (as if!) or plain old dirt, and then, for the landscape designer in you, wood chips or other commonly-conceived "mulch." You put these things together in pleasantly moist layers like a torta or a trifle, and then they are supposed to magically make your soil into black gold.


Instead I sliced about 3/4 of an inch off the pad of my big toe by stubbing it against a rough concrete block. I was raised to believe that unless you can soak a dishcloth with blood in less than a half an hour you don't really need stitches, but it gave me pause for thought. Not to mention a throbbing foot that didn't really feel like playing Iron Chef with garden implements.

So instead I commenced dreaming beautiful dreams about my someday-paradisical garden (hmm, do I smell trouble ahead?) and wound up buying a new refrigerator online. What!? I calculated the amount of carbon dioxide represented by running my 687 kWh model and realized that I could save 585 pounds of the stuff per year by upgrading to a very modest new unit. I do believe, though, that a refrigerator represents the very farthest, most expensive frontier of impulse shopping I have ever done. Please God, let me go back to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ah, rain

Is there any sound sweeter than a much-needed rain?

I've been praying lately with Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Send my roots rain."