40 Days, 40 Bags… oh, boy!

There are thirteen days left in Lent (not including today) and I have eighteen bags to go. A certain someone who will be known as Kiko thinks I won’t make it.

Yes. I. Will.

The hardest bags (actually boxes) are filled and gone: books and art supplies. I thought long and hard about how much reading and painting I do versus how much I dream of doing. 

I was reminded of a personal organizer who worked in the Detroit Metro area. She said – and I paraphrase based on memory – that people were haunted by reminders of their old hobbies and felt relieved when they gave those tools and supplies away. I mostly feel sad that those activities have fallen by the wayside on this crazy road of life.


Review: Video about Tiny Homes

“The studio changed my life. It made me realize that I didn’t want to waste money on stuff — I had no place to put it — and that I didn’t want to spend my life putting stuff away, cleaning and working to pay off stuff.” – Felice Cohen, author of 90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (. . . or More)

Here is the 5-minute story of Cohen’s micro-apartment that went viral. It’s a small part of Kirsten Dirksen’s documentary We the Tiny House People: Small Homes, Tiny Flats & Wee Shelters.

I recommend this documentary for anyone interested in how simple living and the small-home movement continues to take shape through the United States. I appreciate that producer Dirksen didn’t focus on one region, but ventured to different areas – even offering a look at a French “cave home” and Spanish construction.

The reasons for living small varied, but most related to involuntary simplicity. Out-of-reach prices drive the movement and building restrictions threaten it. However, it struck me that New Yorkers had the clearest philosophy of tiny homes: living in micro-space is the trade-off for other lifestyle aspects. I laughed to hear that Manhattanites normally store their laundry in the ovenContinue reading

The struggle is ALWAYS real

I had deja vu while reading this article. The writer Brook Bolen is annoyed with the facetious phrase “The struggle is real” and especially with copycats who mimic aspects of working-poor life. She even goes so far as to make things like the tiny house movement, beard-wearing (!?!), and shopping at thrift stores into markers of pretend poverty.

Her leading anecdote unfolds thus: A co-worker referred to Bolen’s lunch as a “struggle meal” – a meal made when the cupboard is almost bare and the paycheck is a week off. I empathize with Bolen because I, too, have faced mockery for  eating  Suicide Rice.*

However, she uses this molehill to build a mountain. To wit:

“Utilizing a word [struggle] that denotes hardship in a way that essentially parodies it is hurtful and offensive to those people whose lives are defined by real struggle; it also functions to neuter the word and divorce it from its power. Herein lies the most dangerous aspect of this linguistic cultural appropriation: it can render words ineffectual and wrest power from the speaker.”

What irony! Guess what else can “render words ineffectual and wrest power from the speaker”?  Using a term like “cultural appropriation” that means “takes something that belongs to a particular cultural group” and applying it to something that merely has personal meaning.

Bolen complains of fetishization of hardship, but it’s not just an upperclass trait. In college, I knew several other girls whose families struggled economically. One wore her family’s socio-economic status as a badge of self-righteousness.

Continue reading

Techno-Queens and Analog-Drones

M’e the Fashionista is my go-to for tech reviews. She is not the most tech-savvy person in my circle – that title surely goes to Elder Brother – but she is an “early adopter” and swaps apps the way she changes shoes.

Recently an acquaintance was discussing installing new circuit-breakers and electrical boxes to handle the load. If you guessed it’s a household that loves technology, you get a gold star.

Me, I’m relatively low-tech. Is there such thing as a “dumb phone”? I have one. My printer has wires and no scanner. Although I recently bought a new Yoga laptop, I also upgraded to a $44 stereo which plays CDs and has a remote. My plans and appointments are still written on paper.

I don’t know whether to be ashamed or proud. Continue reading

Talk about a “happy homemaker”

Here’s a neat story about a grandmother who turned her 8X10 shed into a cabin so that her homeless daughter and grandchildren could move into her 2-bedroom home.  After looking for the original story, I couldn’t find out where Monica Smith lives (I imagine a North American community, based on the imperial measurements, and somewhere that the local building department allows such for her renovations).

Still, the photos are neat-o.



It’s Awards Time Again In the Blogosphere

Mohamed Tohami at Midway Simplicity offered readers a chance to campaign and vote for the best simplicity blog of the year.  As usual, the list of candidates alone gives a variety of good reading.

His blog was my first introduction to a workable approach to simple living.  Ironically, it was because a hoarders’ support site linked to an interview he did with a declutterer! By the time I went to his site, I’d known both hoarders and ascetics, and decided neither had a grip on a practical way of living and thinking about material goods.   Tohami’s “midway” approach was refreshing, as were the variety of experts he’s interviewed and the quality of his guest-posters.