8 Things I Used to Do

reaching for soap

Thanks, Haddock, for tagging me with an 8's tag. I'm going to bend the rules, as usual, to fit my fancy (I guess this means I actually play by the rules, if my rule is always to break the rules?)

Here are 8 things I used to do. On my journey into stewardship living, I've changed my ways. And I'm still changing. The key is to start where we are and make changes as we learn, grow and discover, isn't it?

1. I used to buy liquid soap in plastic bottles (see lovely green bottle above). Now, my daughter Sara taught me something new. I can make my own liquid soap by cutting up a bar of regular soap and letting it sit in a cup of water overnight. No new plastic bottles to buy. And most of our soaps are used-soaps that we keep from hotel stays.

2. I used to eat meat. Then I read too many things about the "third world" and how "first world" eating habits impact that. The article that "tipped" me into veggie land was about a poor woman in a famine-stricken area. She sold her children after she simply had no other means to care for them, and then committed suicide out of grief. The point of the article was more about market forces, but when I put it together with all my other reading, my heart was touched. I don't expect other people to feel the same way, or make the same decisions I have. But I feel better living this way.

3. I used to buy granola, ketchup, bread and peanut butter. Sometimes I still do, but mostly I make my own. It's amazing what we can make with our own two hands once we discover how.

4. I used to throw my kitchen scraps in the garbage. Now I compost them. In the winter, I use the vegetable scraps to first make vegetable broth.

5. I used to bag up produce in plastic bags, take it to the register and carry it home in more plastic bags. Now, when I remember (which is more and more often), I just put things into my cart loose and bring them home in canvas bags I provide.

6. I used to shop solely at the grocery store. Now I belong to a food co-op, where I buy foods in bulk. This means less packaging in the end. I'm also making an effort to go to my farmer's market every Saturday, where I bring my own containers and bags to carry things home.

7. Number seven hinges on numbers 1 and 3-6: I used to put out three bags of trash a week, to be "taken away" to landfills and incinerators. Now I put out one bag about every two to three weeks. I haven't bought trash bags in months and months.

8. I used to worry that I could never do enough to save the world. It's true, I probably can't. But somehow I don't lose hope. I wrote about it here.

Liquid Soap photo, by L.L. Barkat.

Green Inventions Invitation: if you write a related post and LINK back here, let me know and I'll link to yours.

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Wordless Wednesday: Surely

currant berries

Surely the currant,
with its sour bite,
did not tempt thee, Eve,
unless the serpent
had upon his person
a small spoon of sugar.

I love these even without sweetener.

Currants in My Backyard photo, by L.L. Barkat.




Bug on a leaf

I've been thinking about this idea that my life tells a story, and that I have choices to make about how my story either draws from or feeds into other stories— whether human, spiritual, or natural.

I wonder, for instance, what story I am making— or allowing to make me — by sitting in this little woods day after day.

Or am I just experiencing the scenery, in a kind of drawn-out Sabbath rest?

... white butterflies and orange butterflies flitting and dipping, the breeze shaking the maples... and this tiny mustard-green insect, like a cricket in miniature, who is just now crawling across my blue-lined paper.

Bug on a Leaf photo, by L.L. Barkat.

Green Inventions Invitation: if you write a related post and LINK back here, let me know and I'll link to yours.


Charity's Hollywood Endings

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When I first moved to this tiny tudor on the hill, I had visions. Of tomatoes and green beans, corn and blackberries, peaches and kiwi. I wanted to make my tiny parcel into a lush mini-farm of fruits and vegetables. I even considered giving some of the bumper crops to my local soup kitchen.


Tomatoes won't grow here. Not enough sun. Green beans and corn can't get the proper space (unless one is happy with enough plants to yield 10 beans, 2 ears of corn). My spouse didn't want any more trees on the property. And I did plant kiwi, but one of the plants died, and you need two (male and female) and I don't know which one is still thriving (kiwi are uncooperative that way... they don't wear dresses or ties so you can tell them apart).


I began to learn the discipline of acceptance. As it turns out, I have a good number of wild edibles that are quite happy here. My herb garden grows in spite of me. Snap peas climb the hemlocks. Blueberries like my acidic soil. Peppers thrive in the front yard, against prevailing social convention (and I'm trying tomatoes there this year too).

Maybe this is the lesson I need in many areas of life. To put aside my visions, if only for a season...to see what wants to, will even delight to, grow.

Mint in the Rock Garden photo, by L.L. Barkat.

Green Inventions Invitation: if you write a related post and LINK back here, let me know and I'll link to yours.

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Wordless Wednesday: Even

Thorns in Bloom

Even the thorn bush
blossoms ivory bells,
bleeds a pearl of nectar.

Thorn Bush in Bloom photo, by L.L. Barkat.

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Giving Space

Red Clover

Recently, Craver asked me about beneficial creatures. Not like teddy bears and housepets, but backyard creatures. The context was a conversation about leaving "edges" on one's property. Edges are the places where we let native plants grow as they will, to support what they will in terms of insects and wildlife.

I thought to bring the discussion up here to the post level, based on a conversation I had last night. I have this friend who knows all kinds of things. She was talking about bees. How their populations are devastated. Something like 70% gone. That's serious. Somehow, we've not been leaving the bees their edges, their spaces to live and do their thing. (All sorts of theories abound, including everything from cell-phone radiation waves messing up their homing ability, to pesticide application, etc. I suggest Googling the issue. It's interesting.)

So what have bees to do with leaving edges? It simply struck me that we have not been mindful on either the small level (our own properties) or the macro level (agriculture), and we are seeing the devastating results. Somehow this reminded me of a verse (oh, I don't feel like looking up the reference) that says, "Woe to you who join house to house and leave no room in the land for anyone but you." Yes, woe. But we can make a choice to be different. We can give space.

Clover on the Edge of My Garden, photo by L.L. Barkat.

Green Inventions Invitation: if you write a related post and LINK back here, let me know and I'll link to yours.


Aisling's Wild Edges

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