Sunday, February 24, 2013

Rambling On

Ramble One
I had thought to be able to post on my knot tying experiences by now but I am having greater difficulty locating books on the subject than I anticipated. This means I will have to pull out my secret weapon. I will have to give in and call my dad. Admitting that the knowledge passed on to me has been little used of late and due to a foggy memory forgotten. You see, I learned to sail a boat before I learned to drive and have since had experience on many types of water craft.  I've manned small one person sail boats, larger sail boats meant for family cruising and over sailed racing boats. I've driven power boats and paddled canoes and kayaks. As vital as these skills can be in an emergency...I mean look at Noah, talk about your weather emergency...Knot tying is even more important to everyday life than you would think. It isn't just for water sports its used in all kinds of ways. It’s used in mountain climbing, macramé, making nets for fishing and erecting temporary shelter. They can be an invaluable tool in moving large items, building, and even hunting small game. Knowing how to tie a knot and which knot to tie is essential. As you can see it is a broad subject. I promise to keep working on it until I get the wide variety of information that I want to share.

Ramble Two
I've been thinking that with all the unemployment and the difficulty in finding jobs this has to have created some unique trends. In fact I recently heard that for the first time in generations people are actually relocating long distances just in order to secure work. So of course that made me wonder if people are willing to uproot their lives and move away to start over some place new what else are they willing to do? How many people have taken this as the golden opportunity to go back to school, start their own business, or follow other dreams and maybe drop out of the traditional work force completely? You could say that is what we have done, albeit somewhat involuntarily. Our relocation to a rural area and taking up the road to self sufficiency was however a choice that seemed to follow on the heels of unemployment quite naturally in our lives. It really was what we wanted to do. Would we have done it if work had remained steady? I don't know. Do I wish we had more income?  Of course, everyone does at some time or another. Do I love the change?  You bet! Would I go back or undo it? Nope! We are still cleaning off the dust, dirt, debris and hubris that comes with major changes. We can see some light now and sometimes the dust sparkles as it dances in the sun.

Ramble Three
Ramble three is really just a follow up on my concussion and the knitting challenge from last month. I'm still getting the occasional sharp headaches that force me to change activities or lay down. The doctor says this can last awhile, up to a year or so in fact, as my brain heals itself. It is much improved however. I am finding knitting somewhat easier as time progresses and I get a bit more practice. I'm not sure I will ever find the level of ease or comfort with knitting that I have with crocheting. I tend to find the overall motion of it somewhat awkward and tedious at this point. Maybe that will change as my skill level increases. I can hope! It's practicality in an emergency however does not escape me. After all I could knit with a couple pencils or even some sharpened sticks. I do have about 9 inches of a scarf worked up in stockinette at this point so I'm well on my way. Believe me it was frogged a lot...that is torn out and reworked. One discovery I made that helped with a lot of my confusion is that in knitting you can refer to the stitches one at a time...knit and purl....or in groups (the finished material)...garter stitch--material comprised of all knit stitches, stocking or stockinette -- comprised of a row of knit stitches followed by purl stitches and so on. Wish I had understood this sooner. I have been put in my place as a new comer to the craft by a neighbors 3rd grader who both Knits and Crochets, cheeky kids...gotta love them! This is why I love my community too though. If I need help I can find it. People here crochet, knit, embroider, sew, quilt, cabinetry, welding, iron work, raise a variety of animals, garden and can food. The best part is they pass on the knowledge if you show a true interest. It's a good place to be.

Ramble Four
Even though I am behind in my specified February challenge of knots I have made some progress. I have stepped somewhat outside of my comfort zones this month. I am trying to participate in my community a little more, doing girl scouts with the m'inion and attempting to push myself on my bad days just a tad more. That really hasn't been reflected here this month but I assure you in spite of scattered appearance and varied medical issues it is happening. Just not today....that is not on this cold blizzarding Sunday in February. I had this blog ready on migraine addled brain however failed to send it along for publishing...I apologize as it's not much but I do believe I have found a knot book from 1917 that may in fact be sufficient to my needs. We shall see. I hope you all will keep stretching your minds and learning new to you skills.


As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.

Friday, February 15, 2013

One of Those Weeks

Ever have one of those weeks? You know the kind that just escapes from you completely? You are so preoccupied that time goes by and you become unaware of what day of the week it is? Suddenly someone is reminding you that you missed your last blog...and are about to miss the next one. Well not everyone has a blog or a deadline but we all have things that need to get done; some more important than others. I should probably apologize for missing the blog last week but honestly Last week my only priority and job of importance was to be mommy to a sick kiddo.

I am however now more than a week behind as I now have the creeping crud too. As it attempts to move through our household it is losing a great deal of its strength and I should be back on task in a few days or so. In the meantime we have scouts, DR's., family stuff and a ton of homework from school to supervise. Not to mention the reading and knot tying I need to learn and the still floundering endeavors at creating some type of income from nothing.

I'll be the first to admit what a relief it is to simply be able to be home with a sick child. As a single working mom in a previous decade of my life I know the nightmare of having to choose between a sick child and work. Very often the sheer necessity of work wins out causing the heartache of having to leave your sick kiddo. Add the stress of trying to find an emergency sitter last minute that is willing to take a sick kid, which usually results in dragging said sick kid out of bed to go be sick somewhere else against their will. Then there is the stress of making sure you have all the necessities for their sick care packed up and ready to go. Talk about practicing for packing bug out was the ultimate. The right foods, plenty of drinks, extra clothing, medication, entertainment...they all went in the bag...along with written directions, the appropriate phone numbers and additional contact information.  I was lucky, I usually had family or friends to fall back on during those times but I'm so grateful that is not my life anymore.

In all honesty becoming disabled proved very quickly that it was a world and a life where I made little difference and was easily enough replaced. It took me quite some time to grasp that I still make a difference. That depending on the life we choose I can still serve the whole. That I can in fact contribute far more now than I ever did as that "worker bee" serving the system. I just need to find myself and what it is that drives me without all that pre-programmed progression of how life is supposed to be. I have found that whether it’s being with a sick kiddo, playing with the dog, crafting, learning a new skill, gardening or just busying myself at home this messy unplanned life where I can lose track of time or even the days is just exactly how it’s supposed to be. Now if I can just find an all-consuming but appropriate employment niche good for losing days everything will be great.

Much love,

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Self Sufficiency, Resource Based Living and Zeitgeist

Let me first state this is not my usual topic and I'm not a conspiracy nut. We recently watched the Zeitgeist Addendum movie on Netflix. Mostly it prompted me to think of our lifestyle in the terms the movie discusses, Monetary based economies and Resource based economies. Truthfully, Zeitgeist Addendum does contain a lot of conspiracy based theory and is mostly about bashing the worlds existing Monetary system. I was not completely enthralled with it but I watched and listened with an open and questioning mind. I came to the determination that some of it made some sense.

Zeitgeist Addendum in general summation proposes we move away from a monetary based society and into a resource based society. We should all know and at least sort of understand a monetary based society as it is what we have now. What is a resource based society though, I didn't know. As far as I can tell all the examples of a resource based society are futuristic with none currently in operation. A utopian ideal of living in harmony with nature while utilizing technology to its fullest potential. The best and most well-known example of this in my opinion is Star Trek. I personally have also thought to look to history and believe that many native cultures were resource based societies. In particular I look to Native Americans as living this way.

The basic definition of a resource according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is
1a : a source of supply or support : an available means —usually used in plural
  b : a natural source of wealth or revenue —often used in plural
  c : a natural feature or phenomenon that enhances the quality of human life
  d : computable wealth —usually used in plural
  e : a source of information or expertise

So I looked at our life in terms of each individual system.  First the monetary system. Our monetary resources are currently limited and we have debt just as the movie states. Contrary to the movie I do not believe this condition is fixed, permanent, or in any way guaranteed to be unchanging or worsening. We do not do great but we are functioning ok in this system as it currently stands. Ok being tiny income and low debt by comparison to others. The monetary based economy seems to thrive on comparison.

I had never contemplated our situation in terms of our resources. Why? We still live in a monetary based economy and society so it is how we most easily relate to the world but in many ways we are already living a resource based life. I found when I contemplated living from a resource based view point that we are wealthy in ways I had not expected; For instance in a monetary system my house would be of value only in terms of its potential resale value or equity but in a resource based system my home has value in just being shelter for myself, it has additional value in being able to shelter others in return for services or monetary gain, it provides my garden which allows us to provide food for ourselves and others, and it is my hope that in the future it will help to provide us with the energy it uses.

 I came to the conclusion that our self sufficiency lifestyle places us somewhere in the midst of both these systems. In fact they are symbiotic...without one the other would not exist in our lives and without both we wouldn't have the things we do. We have a home. It can be made energy efficient or even go completely off grid and be energy independent. We have 1/2 an acre of land. That land can produce food and medicine from a garden and fruit bearing plants. It can support chickens, rabbits, and goats. We have access to technology that enables us to expand and learn things we would have never known existed. We are learning new things all the time. In fact it is my personal goal to learn one new skill every month in 2013. That same technology gives us access to others who have knowledge to share and similar ideals. It offers social relationships with folks we could not have met any other way. Our knowledge and skills can provide us with a means of enjoyment, self-improvement and possibly even trade.

If you are like me, you sometimes feel so out of place in this world you just don't fit. In some ways I am the square peg that doesn't go in the round hole. I prefer my quieter, slower small town life. I prefer to shop at the thrift store rather than the big box store. I prefer to buy local rather than half a world away.  I'm slow to jump on the latest and greatest trends and products. Does this mean I don't value technology or world trade--heck no--in fact I recently bought some lovely crochet thread that’s made in Brazil on Amazon and I plan to buy more. It does however mean I often view the world more from a resource based perspective than a monetary one. This makes me different from the majority. However, I am no longer quite so backwards because I'm interested in making my own stuff, recycling, organics, growing my own food and using energy wisely. It seems it has recently become a popular ride at the carnival of life.

Earning your "living" or place in society will not end. It is one of the hardest things to do in a rural environment. Especially one that is based mostly in a monetary system. Yet it is possible to have a sustainable livelihood in a rural area without commuting or working from home (via technology) in a resource based system where everyone contributes and receives the necessities in return. Contrary to what the movie suggests I believe that people will always have to trade something...whether it is a skill, a product, labor, technology or some other not yet recognized form that is given value...for something else whether its beads and trinkets, modern currency, energy credits, or replicator rations in order to exist as a society.  Food does not come from nowhere and technology changes or requires maintenance and repair so there is and likely always will be "work" to be done. Even on Star Trek they all had a job to do. While I cannot deny the necessity of having a monetary income I have begun to learn to value our resource based "assets". Looking at the economy this way has helped me see my family and our position in terms of all our worth rather than merely seeing worth through our monetary value and capabilities and from this perspective it is easy to see we can contribute to our local community in so many more ways than I ever thought possible.

The contemplation of these two economic systems and our life style will no doubt continue to lead me to reevaluate a great many things. There was one pivotal moment after thinking about all this for a couple days when I realized that we are actually living and operating in both systems simultaneously at this moment in time. It was strange to fully realize that we are in the beginnings of a transition. A transition deeper reflection tells me has occurred before as we moved from a resource based society into one based on monetary systems. I believe things are slowly changing and swinging back the other way; perhaps we are the beginning of that new way and a part of that change. We are living part way between the monetary and the resource based ideals, part way between the traditional and the technological, part way between the old and the new, between the death of one way and the birth of another. There is no way at the present time that I know of to jump entirely into a resource based society without some catastrophic failures in both systems but we can certainly grow into one.

Sources and sites
A Google search on Zeitgeist and resource based living will lead you to many, many hours of links with everything from debates to conspiracy theorists making accusations on all sides. It is worth the investigation if you do it with an open mind, skip over the junk, and confirm your own facts. Just to get you started here are some links.

Resources for resource based living

Technocracy resources

Linking resource based living and technocracy together

And finally a skeptics opinion on zeitgeist


As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.