Simplicity, Frugality, and Sadomasochism

Changes are on the horizon here in the soybean field. Not official, but in the works. The changes are for the best and the highest, so no worries. Details to follow when all is complete.

There will be some adjustments and tradeoffs, certainly, but worth it. The trick is to implement them without suffering. A small amount of discomfort, perhaps. However, it is very possible to live quite nicely within the lines without hurting oneself.

Simplicity and frugality share some points on the Venn diagram. So do frugality and sadomasochism. Simplicity and frugality help their practitioners become free from mental clutter, debt, and consumerism gone insane. The frontiers between frugality and sadomasochism, on the other hand, drive the need to scrimp and save to the point where one’s life is taken over by the need to hoard toilet paper beneath the bed because one has found a great deal on it and purchased a year’s worth.

Simplicity asks “What makes you happy? What are you willing to give up so you have more room in your life for it?” It might be debts. It might be the butt-ugly lamps inherited from an ancestor. Or it could involve performing a ritual to release a long-held grudge.

Sadomasochism has no time for that. It demands the twine scraps be knotted together and balled up. It requires that the bags get stuffed into sacks for storage.

Your Money or Your Life is a good starting point for saving money and consuming consciously. You keep a list of what you spend during a week, then evaluate it to see what you need, or don’t. Example from real life (not in the book, but to give an idea): do you really need to make three latte runs to Starbucks a day (yes, a day) or maybe you could have one a week? Amazing what people spend their money on without awareness.

The Tightwad Gazette has some good pointers in it: making your own salad dressings and other condiments; organizing the kitchen, valuing time. Some of the advice is downright tacky (gag gifts, potluck wedding receptions, homemade gifts), dangerous (buying a case of canned foods that had lost its labels or forcing  children to finish their meals in ways that plant seeds for eating disorders in their teen years) or dated (the newsletters compiled in the book ran from 1990-96). The author also made some nasty remarks about overweight women spending too much money on their hair and nails to compensate for their weight. Very mixed.

If getting one’s hair and nails done is something that helps a woman feel good about herself, no matter her size, and she budgets for it, it falls under simplicity. It is a reflection of her true self, and not acceptance of what consumerism gone amok preaches.

For me, hair yes (tried to cut my own when I was in junior high and looked like I’d undergone chemo for a month). Never really been into getting manis or pedis. Not me. Not worth the money. Books are. Ecologically responsible cleaners are. Good food for me, Hubby, and Oakley is.

So we make our adjustments, and get ready for the next adventure.

River School

The river resembled handblown glass window panes this morning. Oakley and I watched from the observation platform. Its surface was a bit rough, and the reflection of leaves of the trees blended with the silt to color it grey-green. It’s running high and swift from the recent rains. Nothing stops the Fox on its journey from Lake Michigan near Green Bay down to the Illinois River near Ottawa. It flows around, through, and over anything in its channel.

It’s easy to get to. Main trail back to a relatively flat trail of perhaps an eighth of a mile that curves its way through some maples. Once there, Oakley likes to lie down on the platform, relishing the cool deck on his tummy. I simply watch, meditate to the soft rush of time and water.

We’ve watched eagles, hawks, and herons as they soar and circle over the river or take flight in the woods. Occasionally an owl inquires “who-o-o” as they day draws to a close. We’ve been startled by chipmunks and scolded by squirrels. It’s usually just us as we sit there, watching. Not often, but sometimes on a weekend we get startled by humans. We excuse ourselves, secure in our knowledge that we can return at our leisure and can share.

The river is bisected by a small wooded island at that point. A change, an obstacle, then once around it, the river reaches a new place of wholeness.

Like the river and its course, new challenges are placing themselves in my path. I place my faith in knowing that all will be well, and prefer to concentrate on simply flowing around them.

Chant and Polyphony for Tornado Siren and Alert Tones

It is mid-morning, and quiet, and growing hot again. It is good to be home with the air conditioner’s hum and the snores of a contented dog harmonizing with the low buzz of the mower as Hubby tries to tame the prairie restoration that is our lawn.

While Oakley had his sleepover camp adventures–exploring a lake’s edge, making friends with a kitty, playing with a couple of friends from day care–Hubby and I made the trip north to the Bristol Renaissance Faire for badly needed break from common reality.

It began as any other trip did, moderate Saturday traffic, clear weather, then we hit very slowed traffic ten miles south of the exits for a mega-amusement park, a mega-outlet mall, and a mega-water park resort. There had been one huge accident still under investigation compounded by cleanup from several smaller fender-benders likely caused by other drivers messing with their phones or trying to figure out what happened. The automotive carnage forced traffic into two lanes instead of the usual four, hence the thickness.

Fine. We arrived unscathed. Parked in a spot on the high side of the lot, went inside the magic gates to our happy place.

A few clouds gathered, and the air felt a tad soupy. Saw a couple of the comedy acts, grabbed lunch. Music? Too many good acts to choose from so we would just see how the day unfolded.

More clouds gathered, and the air felt as if rice or noodles had been added. We went to the Nobles’ Glade, the shady part at the back of the grounds where Queen Elizabeth I holds court. They were enjoying their lunch to the tunes of a vocal group performing Celtic tunes.

And then the clouds congealed, and the air grew as gloppy as canned cream of mushroom soup, and Her Majesty gave the command for the servants to get the carpets rolled up and for all to take shelter. Well, the possibility of rain had been in the weather reports for a few days, so no surprise there.

Hubby and I walked up the lane to get cookies at the bakeshop. The sprinkles started, then strengthened into a storm. We dove into a game and bookstore along with about two dozen others. Watched a game involving the construction of castles, chatted with our fellows as the rain dropped straight from the sky like a blanket getting dropped onto a bed.

Not a problem. Having too much fun to get too upset. A couple of other patrons made a run for the tavern across the street.

The wind shifted. The customers’ phones, the weather radio, and the tornado siren let loose with a collective wail. We were under watches for everything this side of a blizzard. We could do nothing but wait it out. A shrug, a pause to move the table from beneath the leaky part of the roof, and the party continued.

After an intense forty five minutes, the storm tapered off. We decided to stay, but Hubby wanted to check the truck. It took a lot longer than expected, and as I looked for him from my spot at the gate, I looked straight ahead. The parking area at the bottom of the hill was flooded, trapping several cars.

Even though we’d had a good spot, the faire’s streets had been trashed out, forming rivers with slick footing in the relatively dry places. We decided that heading home might not be a bad idea.

We passed a lot of water on the pavement; we passed another accident. Still, a smoother trip than the northward trek. A stop for Chinese takeout, and we were done for the day, but not before we began the laying of tentative plans for another trip.

Hubby negotiates with the prairie plants. I picked Oakley up from sleepover camp, checked messages.

We make our tiny tenuous steps into common reality today. We bide our time until we can leap into the other one.

The Outhouse Escapade of 2003

Just took Oakley for a rare midday walk. We don’t do that very often. Today’s exception comes courtesy of a thunderstorm sandwich. We began the day with a sound and light show and will end the afternoon with one. The air grows heavy and ripe with moisture while a cool breeze tries in vain to brush it and the heat back.

Oakley has had his two walks, so whatever is slated to happen can. We are home. We are safe. We are not going anywhere until I feel reasonably sure that we can do so safely.

Don’t get me wrong; I love a good thunderstorm. Standing in my field and watching them roll in from the north and west makes me feel like a priestess of old connecting earth and sky.  Many years ago when I was still trying to work at a conventional job, I ran to my car to make sure that the windows were closed. An enormous green cloud roiled across the sky. The platinum lightning streaked though it. I stood there until my supervisor grabbed my arm and dragged me inside. He’d been calling my name to get my attention for five minutes, but the roaring wind coupled with my focus on the cloud rendered me temporarily deaf.

What I don’t love is getting caught in them on walks.

Some years ago, I watched the skies one morning. Orion performed an interpretive dance to express his impatience. Iffy, yes, but I decided that we’d at least be able to walk the trail around the larger lake at his favorite park before things hit the weather fan.

Not quite. The storm picked up speed, overtaking us halfway through the walk. Orion began trembling. He hated thunderstorms with a vengeance. I dragged him into the nearest shelter. At that point in the trail, it was an outhouse.

I don’t know how long we took refuge there. It was a Monday, and the park employees hadn’t cleaned that outhouse yet. Still, it was a safe if stinky shelter.

We crouched there for a good hour. Either because he could really see where the noise was coming from, or because he’d gone into shock, Orion sat and watched the lightning streak its way across the sky though the skylights.

The rain continued pouring after the electrical activity had calmed. Orion and I made it back to the car, a little stinky, a lot wet, but safe.

My sinuses haven’t been quite the same, but my love and respect for storms still are. I just prefer to watch them from a venue where I know I can get inside as soon as possible these days.

From his cave between the love seat and arm chair, Oakley agrees.

Wolf Mama, Wolf Mama, Where Have You Been?

Not in London visiting the Queen, most assuredly.

Since the last post, I was struggling with two problems: 1. a dark night of the writer’s soul, one where it feels as if I will never create another coherent sentence again, and 2. my thyroid decided to go on strike.

2. had to get resolved before I could tackle 1. I’m hypothyroid. All the tests I’ve had show that yes, I am kicking out enough of the T’s, but for some reason it doesn’t show that they thyroid is making proper use of them. I started taking a supplement with homeopathic remedies, glandular extracts, and iodine. I’ve been taking it for about ten days and feel better. When my thyroid refuses to work, my nails get funky and everything is overwhelming. The cracks in my thumbnails and complacency in choice of TV programs because I just couldn’t suck it up to get the DVR remote should have tipped me off sooner.

Ren Faire opens this weekend. Hubby and I are going next week. 11 days and counting. Much needed break from the continuing battle with his mom’s house and the world in general. I’m listening to the Celtic stream as an aperitif. I’m also checking the schedule daily.

Oakley started a new to him Chinese herb that helps with his tummy. He had another bout of digestive unpleasantries. A few tweaks of his diet and the addition of this herb makes for a happy puppy and a well-rested mom.

Writing started coming back this week. I began working with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way to address the blocks. Sunday and Monday were decent writing days. I hope today will be another one.

It’s just life, isn’t it?