Sunday, December 30, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Actually I'll be honest, this is the first year since I was a young child that I've really been looking forward to Christmas. The reason that I'm excited for Christmas this year is the traditions that we've started as a family. Today we spent time making ornaments to take to the local nursing home Christmas morning so that we can spend some time with those who often struggle through the holiday season. We also left our Thanksgiving tree up longer this year so that we can keep in mind those things that we are thankful for, and make leaves for them and tape them to the tree. When we take down that tree, I'll make a list of things that made it on the tree.
So the real reason that I'm excited about Christmas this year is that I don't care if there are any presents under the tree. In years past I have either worried about what I might get or that I might have gotten something else something that they don't like or whatever. This year I purchased very few gifts. Two to be precise. I bought the Mugwump wood and hardware so that we can build a bird house together and I bought my wife a couple of things that she wanted (I won't write it here because she can read). We didn't buy Sixpence anything because he's got plenty and he won't notice the difference. We didn't get our parents or grandparents anything because it would put us in a difficult situation financially and the only ideas that we had for gifts were just clutter. We would have purchased stuff that they didn't really need, they might have used, but most likely would have ended up as trash in the near future. We are trying hard to stand up against that, so we didn't buy anything for a lot of people. That is hard, because when I was growing up gifts were a way of showing love. We most certainly love our family, but we are trying to disconnect the idea of gifts and love. If suddenly tomorrow there were not a single gift under the tree, it would in no way influence my family's ability to celebrate Christmas. We're glad they are there and we appreciate others' generosity, but we would still have the spirit of Christmas without them.
Oh, I was going to write about my favorite holiday. OK, I don't know that it is really a holiday, but I really like the Winter Solstice. I think there is a reason that Christmas is on December 25, just after the Winter Solstice every year. I think that the real reason for Christmas is a celebration of light. Now in the Northern hemisphere the days are pretty short, but night is getting long! Jesus was the light of the world, he brought to this world light and hope for things to come, even for those of us in the darkest of despair. The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year and a changing of trends. Starting now, every day will be a little longer, allowing plants a new opportunity for life that will feed animals and allow them to prepare to produce new life. Whether a religious holiday or simply from a perspective of the seasonal changes, this is a wonderful time for hope and renewal.
As the earth brings forth new opportunities I look forward to opportunities to make changes in my life. This year I'm going to make some changes in the garden to try and grow several new foods. I hope to use planter boxes to extend my growing season. I hope to plant some of the cold tolerant plants from early spring all the way to late fall to see how long we can have fresh vegetables available to us. I want to take advantage of the light given to me. Of course there are also opportunities for personal and spiritual growth that I will be making so that I can better know Jesus and help His children have joy and light in their life.
Merry Christmas to all (Boy, that's cliche')
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
This is going to be a little different than Fatty's post, because Fatty wrote about his truck that he uses to haul his bike in stuff. I use my bike just to haul stuff or to travel. I didn't get a picture of the fixie, that's sort of the "Geo Metro" commuter bike that isn't pretty, but serves its purpose as a workhorse getting good mileage day after day and never really breaking down. Except I'm going through spokes at a rate of about 3-4 a month.
Next, I have the a picture of the road bikes. Mine is the Mongoose. it's like a mid 90's Camaro. It's not a bad bike, but it is far from top of the line. It serves it's purpose and if the engine were taken care of like it should be it would be pretty fast. Until then, it hangs there waiting to be ridden (the bike, not the engine). My wife's bike hangs next to it, putting mine to shame (Thanks Cathi!). Hers is an old Basso with a real lugged steel frame, fully Ultegra equipped with down tube shifters and all. It's like a 60s Mustang. It's a classic and I'm afraid to drive it. My wife uses it around town on nice days, but it doesn't get the use that it was built for. Some day.
Here are the Mountain bikes. Mine is the Novara. It was a good bike in its day, but needs a bit of a make-over and overhaul. We'll compare it to a 62' Chevy Pickup that has been well used. My wife's is a Schwinn Moab. I'd compare it to a Early 90's Toyota. It serves its purpose well and hauls around the trailer on most of its trips.
And here's the trailer. It's an old Burley that has seen better days, but still serves its purpose. It hauls the two boys just fine, but our friends generally refuse to ride with us (they say it would be cramped back there). There's plenty of room behind the seat for a diaper bag, snacks, bike lock, tool kit and the cargo that your trip needed to drop off or pick up. When hooked up to one of the mountain bikes, it's an SUB (Sports Utility Bicycle). This isn't a bike, but it's a workhorse of the family. It's a double stroller. It will haul the two kids to the grocery store and one of the kids and the groceries home (The older kid has to walk home). It's nothing pretty, but it serves its purpose. We'll compare it to an old station wagon.
And below is the engine. You see, my wife is beginning to prefer the station wagon over the SUB because at 8 months pregnant her knees hit her belly while she's riding. While I've never been in that situation, I think that would take me off the bike as well. My wife is like a Ferrari engine that doesn't have a good home. It's foreign and a little mysterious, and it has tremendous power that demands respect. I know that it's more of an engine than I should ever be entrusted with, but she's got all of my respect. Powerful beyond measure, but with a simple elegance and grace that makes it oh so attractive.
And how do I haul my bikes? Who needs to haul a bike when you are riding it? It's such a shame to see bikes strapped to the backs of cars. They pass me all the time and I can hear the bikes telling their owners, "Look, he rides his bike".
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Sixpence recently celebrated his second birthday. Unfortunately, it got him in the mood to open presents and he thinks they're all for him. He'll be disappointed on Christmas.
He requested strawberry cupcakes with pink frosting and sprinkles for his cake. I think he just licked the frosting off.
Mugwump learned about robots last week, so we took some hardware odds and ends we had and he created his own.
We decorated Christmas cookies to deliver to friends. Sixpence liked licking the frosting off the knives, and Mugwump liked putting as much frosting on each cookie as it could hold. This picture is also a picture of me 8 months pregnant. Can't you tell?
Do you think Mugwump had a good time decorating graham cracker houses this week?
Friday, December 14, 2007
So I'm interested in helping the environment, but am I "all in"? Unfortunately I don't think that I am. My family still owns a car (and we will own it until I can convince my wife to sell it). We don't recycle grey water. We don't produce any of our own electricity, and depend completely on incoming electricity and gas for our home. I sometimes take longer showers than I need to since I usually take them at school and I don't have to pay for it.
What does it take to go all in? I want to, but why haven't I if I'm really that interested? First off, it takes a lot of work to recycle grey water and finding alternative means of producing electricity is expensive or requires a lot of work. And we do still use our car occasionally, so it may not be the time to sell it yet.
Oh, but I have plans. The next time we move, we're building a house with solar panels and excellent insulation and grey water recycling and everything else green that you can think of. Did I think I was going to do that the last time we moved? Probably. But last time we didn't have a whole lot of money to work with. Next time will be different.
Why do I put off the major changes that I want to make? This stuff is really important to me, but I just don't do anything except plan. That is one thing that I really admire about No Impact Man, he did it. He turned off the electricity to his Manhattan apartment and lived for a year with no electricity. That's admirable. Why don't I do it? Oh, I'm in a different situation. Local food is hard to find. our house would get REALLY COLD. Our pipes would likely freeze. I'm not home enough and it would be more of a burden on my wife than on my ( I sit in a heated office and work on the computer all day).
All I have are excuses, how do I get rid of excuses and start making a difference with my life?
"I want only to live in accord with the promptings of my true inner self. Why is that so very difficult?" --Hermann Hesse
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
So Emily left a comment the other day asking about my thoughts on kids. I am of a religious persuasion that believes that we, like Adam, were commanded to "multiply and replenish the earth". When you go to environmental websites and the topic of children comes up it is often considered irresponsible to have kids because of global overpopulation and the resources that it takes to support a growing world population.
Here's how I see it. If you read the scripture where Adam is commanded to "multiply and replenish the earth", that is not all that the scripture says. Read it, it's Genesis 1:28, in the very same verse it talks about subduing and ruling over the earth. I recognize that some Christians believe that subduing and ruling over the earth means that the earth is God's gift for us to use. I have a hard time believing that God would like to see us hurting His creation. I believe that when God told Adam to subdue and rule over the earth, He was giving Adam a sort of stewardship, not to destroy the earth, but to regulate it so that resources could be shared and all generations would have access to the goods brought forth by God's creation.
I think that those two commandments go hand in hand. If we do not regulate the goods God has given us, we may not have what we need to raise our children, and He did also command to have children. As we prepare for our third child (expected in late January or early February), this does weigh on my mind. That is a big part of the reason I try to live lightly on the land, I want to leave the earth in good shape for my kids and I believe that God gave me stewardship over the land (along with everyone else who lives here), and expects me to take care of it until He returns. That is a major reason that I do not eat meat. I do not have anything morally or religiously against eating meat, but beef production is a major source of greenhouse gases, and more importantly, if land were used for growing grains and vegetables it would produce far more food to feed the world's people than using the grains to feed the cows that the people eat. Likewise I don't drive often because I know that it contributes to destroying the earth and I want to minimize that. I still have work to do on turning off lights, recycling grey water, buying local organic goods, etc, but I am taking actions to start doing my part.
In addition, I am trying to raise children who will tread lightly on the land. They too will have to preserve in order to enable their kids to have what they need. I am quite proud that my children do not know what McDonald's is. They have not asked for anything for Christmas because they haven't seen the ads. They know that paper goes in the recycle bin under the sink, food waste goes in the compost and non-recyclable stuff goes into the trash. They know they don't need to flush after urinating, but to flush after #2. They are simple things, but they help preserve the earth.
I recognize that with what the world as a whole is consuming, it may be taxing on the earth to have more kids, but I also feel that if managed correctly the earth can sustain us. We all must do our part to preserve the earth that God gave us.
Wow, I don't usually do the religion thing on this website... but I think this is important. So there is the answer to your question Emily.