June 2008

I’m taking Thursday off work, giving me a 4 day weekend. I have no plans, really, other than just not going to work.

It is likely a sign of slight burn out that I don’t care what I do, as long as I’m not at work. 4 days sounds luxurious. 4 days without specific plans and constant motion sounds like heaven. Usually I only take time off for travel or conferences, but right now I just need to chill. To relax. I suppose this is what is referred to as a “staycation” but it really just feels like sanity.

Which isn’t to say I won’t try to get some stuff done, small projects and adventures. But I’ll likely take some lovely naps as well.

sleeping pig


Life is change. We know that, but we don’t always feel it.

I’ve been feeling it lately. Raindrops on my life’s pond. I’m watching their ripples with awe, and happiness.

I’m going to become a bike commuter.

This shocks me, it was never in my head before in my life, but it is large and sparkling now. I feel like a little kid unwrapping the best and most perfectly unexpected gift. My bike is in the shop getting a tune up. I’ve been arming myself with maps and obsessively reading blog posts, collecting bike blogs. I know I’ll need to get a commuter bike, my road bike won’t really cut it for commuting. I am excited about the possibilities.

It is like suddenly seeing a whole new world. A world that was always there, waiting for me to see clearly.

cherry tomato on the plant

a pepper was born…

new pepper

There really is something almost magical about growing your own food. It has even changed how I feel about the weather. I am the kind of person who craves sunlight, and any clouds on the forecast, let alone rain, give me a sense of dread. At least they used to.

Now, knowing they’re helping my garden grow, I look forward to it. I appreciate living in a climate where I don’t need to water my plants often, where I can let nature take care of that for me. At least in years like the current one, where we’ve been getting our fair share of moisture.

It is raining right now. I poked my head out the door when it started to make sure, and smiled.

Grow cucumbers, grow!

baby cucumber

It is funny, Sorrow had tagged me for a quote meme, and I knew I’d use at least one ani quote…to be honest, I could have used a hundred, her lyrics just resonate that much with me. But I chose only one, and it isn’t one of the ones that sprung immediately to mind.

And somehow, having chosen it, it has been on my mind a lot the past few days. I keep looking around my life, and that phrase is everywhere, “if you don’t live what you sing about, your mirror is gonna bite.”

I think that this is one reason why certain things are so easy for me. Go vegetarian? No problem. Go vegan? No problem. Once I see what I need to do, it is more uncomfortable to me to go against that than to make whatever changes. It is a driving need to live what I sing about, I guess.

And yeah, there are always limitations.

My commute, I thought was one of them.

I’m rethinking that.

I started reading some blogs (being bored at work has been one of the catalysts for some big life changes!) about various issues in the DC metro area. Started with DCist, of course, and then it expanded. I found myself reading some cycling blogs.

“What am I doing reading these?” I asked myself. I haven’t used my bike in 3 years, it hurt…everywhere…when I did ride it, and my nose ran constantly. But I was bored at work, so I kept reading. And sure enough, my imagination caught fire. Someone commuting to work, year round, from a fair distance away. He has a commute that takes him one hour each way, and that’s about what I expect it would take me as well. He has commuted in all kinds of weather, he’s done this for 2 years now.

There was something about reading the every day story of someone who is doing what I’ve been excusing myself from doing….something that makes me look in the mirror and face the fact that I’m not living what I’ve been singing about.

I have a lot of details to work on – my bike needs a tune-up, I might need a different bike altogether if I can’t figure out how to get comfortable on a road bike, and anyway I want a bike that will let me carry groceries too. I need to take a refresher course on street riding (signed up for June 28, actually), I need to scope out the route because while I’ve been thrilled to learn that about 10 of my 11.5 miles will be on an actual bike trail, there’s an ugly mile at the end that I have to take a hard look at.

And these current plans are essentially assuming I am moved to the new office location, which won’t happen until the fall. If I find out that I’m staying at my current location, I’ll have to research more. This is an idea that is sticking hard in my brain, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to let it go.

I’m breathless at the idea of being able to give up my car, at least for the week days. For now, the 30 miles each way to the sanctuary will be under an expectation of driving. As will the less often 70 mile trips to the other sanctuary.

It is a challenge to continue to align my life with my beliefs, but a challenge in the best way.

pepper leaf and raindrops

I put a desk in my dining room so that I would no longer use my dining room table as a desk. To make it work, the desk is right up against the window – not something I’ll ever complain about, as it looks out over my patio.

I’ve really been enjoying the new set up, and tonight I was super productive in my activism efforts.

And as I sit at my computer, about to close it up for the night, I realize that I’ve been distracted for a while in a way that somehow has added to my contentment as well as productivity – the moon, so clearly visible from my window now that I’m sitting at my desk right in front of it, has been drawing me.

Is it a full moon? I don’t even know, and it doesn’t really matter that much to me. I feel the power, I feel the connection.

Earth cycles.

My first pepper blossom emerged today.

Sorrow tagged me with a quote meme!

This is a fun meme; words are powerful, or at least they can be.

From a DC blog, featuring “overheard in DC” types of things, thus completely anonymous:

Guy: “There is a fine line between a ninja and a squirrel.”

From My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult:

Reality is the only word in the language that should always be used in quotes.

From ani difranco:

If you don’t live what you sing about, your mirror is gonna bite.

From Che Guevara:

Let me say, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.

From Thich Nhat Hanh:

Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it.

From Alice Walker:

The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men.

And finally, I’ll tag:

But it is a tag with no obligation. And likewise if anyone else is in the mood, jump on!

Today started with an appointment to look at a desk I’d seen on craigslist. I’m a big fan of the CL, partially because who doesn’t like to save a buck? But more than saving a buck, my primary motivation is simply to not buy new things as much as possible. There is so much extraction from the earth, and buying new things just contributes to that. I know it is not sustainable. This isn’t even an opinion, it is the simple reality – we’ve got a closed system that we’re living in, and a closed system means that there are limits to every resource out there. There are bigger limits on things that are either less abundant by nature, or which take longer to grow and develop, but very real limits apply to everything we “consume” (which is not a term to apply only to food).

Regardless, I try to avoid being part of the buy-new lifestyle as much as I can. I know it is not always feasable. I simply make change where I can, which isn’t to say that I have made drastic changes all at once. It was about 3 years ago that I stopped buying paper towels and switched to using cloth towels for all cleaning. It works great, and I can no longer remember what I used paper towels for, let alone why.

Step by step I make changes that get me closer to where I want to be in this life. And so today, I bought a used desk. Gorgeous, as it happens, and I unexpectedly had a fantastic conversation with the seller of the desk. He is into environmental issues, especially sustainability, and so we happily chatted about how wonderful craigslist is, how good it is to avoid buying new.

It simply wasn’t a conversation I expected to have while buying a desk from someone in Georgetown, I admit!

And then at the farmers market, where I bought yet another tomato plant (brandywine this time), I had another interesting conversation. The farm I bought this plant (and some produce) from is apparently a collective. A spiritual collective, and a lot of the ideas sounded good. They all work, but they don’t have to worry about many of the things that we do when we’re locked into working jobs we might not like and which might not be fulfilling, but which we can’t get out of because we have to pay th erent, the utilities, the everything else just to keep our lives running.

Collectives are interesting, and the cooperative effort is very appealing to me. The spiritual aspect of this particular one is not. But they say they’re open to visitors, and I might just take a day and volunteer my time, see what I can learn, both about organic farming, as well as about collective living.

I’d love someday to be part of a vegan collective. A co-housing growing cooperative maybe. Someday.

And finally, I had an interesting conversation with my favorite barrista. This was not unexpected, since he’s an interesting person, and we always manage to have short but interesting conversations. Today was a bit about him becoming car-less. It was odd, in the way of random coincidences, because I’d just recently read someone’s story on them going car-less, and I found it very inspiring. For my barrista, it was a story of his car being towed, and him getting a notice a month later that he owed a whopping sum of money to get it out of their impound. He was surprised to get the letter, since he hadn’t noticed that his car wasn’t there. (This tells you how often he drives! I was more surprised to learn that he had a car at all.) So, since he didn’t want to pay a big sum of money, and since he had wanted to stop being a car owner anyway, he gave them the car in exchange for not owing them the big sum of money.

And so now he is officially car free. We talked about the blog I’d been reading recently about the person who went car-free two years ago, which has included a really long bike commute. I have been thinking more and more seriously about making that kind of committment.

Not to go completely car-free – I have a ridiculously cheap vehicle on which the insurance is hardly any amount at all, and I have one long trip to make every Saturday in a place where there just isn’t public transportation. They don’t even have taxis! I could likely find a way to make it work anyway (I’m not the only one going to the sanctuary, after all) but for now, I might as well keep my old truck for that trip every week.

But I did put in my name to be on the list of people moving to the other office location…the one that is not any closer, but which is a reasonable public transit commute. And in pouring over some online bike maps that people have made of the area, I was stunned to realize that if I was to try to bike to that area, 90% of it (a wild guess, but anyway a really large percentage) would be on a bike trail.

Not even a quietish road on which I’d be more comfortable, but an actual trail!

Of course the actual office location is in a really horrible area for bikes, but…but I still feel like there are some possibilities here.

Though it is doubtful that I would have any way of, say, showering once I got to work, and I also know that I’m a real wimp when it comes to cold and nasty weather.

Still, biking might just be an option for more of my life in the future.

I’m really excited by the possibilities.

bees and a flower

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