"If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things. The powers-that-be can break up any big thing they want. They can corrupt it or co-opt it from the inside, or they can attack it from the outside. But what are they going to do about 10 million little things? They break up two of them, and three more like them spring up!"
- Pete Seeger, in YES! Magazine

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Donate to Local Thrift Store or Shelter

The project:
Donate some of our belongings to the local thrift store that benefits various shelters in the area.

90 minutes including going through belongings with our children (THAT will slow anyone down), sorting clothes, and delivery

Why bother?
While the media continues to holler about the tough times the world is experiencing, we do, indeed, continue to live in a age of plenty, in a society of too much, and, in most cases, homes too too small to continue collecting stuff, whether useful or not. Go ahead - argue the point. But look around you first. Are you online? Are you sitting at your OWN computer? In your OWN home? Did you eat well tonight? Perhaps far too well? Do your closets contain more than a week's worth of clothes? How about your children's collections of books and toys, not to mention your own collection. Honestly, unless we're living on the streets out of a shopping carts, or in shelters, or in a home housing several families, we're still living in plenty despite economic struggles relative to our recent pasts.

Our kids recently received some clothes from friends. Before going through the new things, the kids and I went through their closets and drawers, pulling out stained, torn and incredibly worn things, clothes they'd grown out of or which, for whatever reason, they didn't like anymore. They received new things one-for-one. While I did not receive new items, my collection of clothing, however simple, has grown. It seemed only fair (and logical) that I should go through my things as well. I went through my clothes, but also my bookshelves and kitchen, plus the garage.

One of the girls saw a shirt I handed off.

"Mom! I thought you liked that shirt with the flowers on it!"

"I do. But I don't have room for everything I like. I don't have room for everything I want. So, I have to make choices, just like you're making choices. I chose to keep the things I like even better. Someone else will like this shirt, too."

Is it wasteful to give up things that are not yet worn to the nubbins? Perhaps, if you're throwing them away. I don't think so, however, when we donate them to someone else who may be able to use them. (Ratty clothes, worn clothes, stained clothes, however, find their way to the recycling and trash bins.)

Worth it?
Yes - I feel a bit more relieved now that our clothes can more easily be put away, and the house feels slightly less cluttered. I'm fairly certain we could do a better job in the future.

Friday, July 24, 2009

No good deed goes unpunished?

Or so the saying goes. That's a bit how I'm feeling tonight about my July 16 pool recycling project. I felt great about spend 30 minutes tearing this pool into bits and pieces that would fit in our recycling bin. It had a tear in the bottom, and as brittle as the plastic was, seemed irreparable. (I still maintain that it was.)

I figured I'd recycle that one, then find a new pool for the kids. (I know...plastic bad. But the pool lasted us several years before it was recycled, not sent to the giant flotilla of plastic whirling at sea.) WRONG!

It seems there are no hard-plastic pools to be found this year. (OK, I DID find the typical round one that's about 3' across, but with two girls, one of whom is approaching 5', that's just not going to do it.) Our last pool also had a slide, a place to plug in the hose to create a sprinkler attraction (which landed in the pool) and a river/waterway molded along one edge.

I'm super bummed about the loss of pool. But, really, it had to go. :*(

(Strains of "Memories" here.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Scoopin' Poop

The project:
Scoop horse poop.

10 minutes

Why bother?
While our shared lease on the horse we're riding this month doesn't require us to do the everyday chores, it seems to me that's part of horse time. If you have a horse, you need to clean up after it, care for it properly. The woman who maintains these horses has more than half a dozen to deal with, plus lessons to give, her own family to care for, horses to train, oh, and a life to live. The poop needed scoopin' and it was my turn.

Worth it?
Yes - I even got a nice comment from another of the horsey folk out there while I was scoopin' away.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Listen to a Cancer Patient

The project:
Take time to compliment a cancer patient on the regrowth of her hair, and to listen to her talk about the latest in her treatment.

30 minutes

Why bother?
I met this woman about three weeks ago, the day before she was to go in for a double mastectomy. Family history has given me some lessons in what comes along with this surgery and related treatment. Today, while passing by her place, I stopped in to check on her. She greeted me on the porch, without her wig. I quickly noted with excitement the new hair that was adorning her previously BALD, bald, BALD head. She was as pleased as she could be that someone noticed, but surprised that I did, being so new on the scene.

Then we sat on the porch and visited, first about her latest, then moving on to the more relaxing themes of kids and neighbors, animals and the fair.

Worth it?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Support Independent Business

The project:
Choose locally owned businesses over massive chains for today's business.

Same as if I'd ventured into the mega brands.

Why bother?
Mega stores, chains, they come and go. When they come, the kill off local shops that, in so many cases, have been here for decades, even generations. When they go, they leave us nothing. Plus, have you ever thought about just how ridiculous it might be to be purchasing produce shipped by planes, trains and automobiles from half way around the globe when we're growing them RIGHT HERE? HOW can it be less expensive?! (I know - cheap labor. But still...)

I do believe in the free market society, but little shops that offer customer service and quality goods just don't seem to be able to survive quite as well in a world that values rock-bottom prices over any sort of quality, let alone customer service. By supporting our locals, perhaps they'll survive long enough to see the chains give way to locals who value service and quality over saving a dime.

Worth it?

Photo courtesy Dave Olson under Creative Commons License.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Water Horses

The project:
Water a plethora of horses after our afternoon ride.

15 minutes

Why bother?
While I put away the horse, I noticed its water was low. Rather than just water our horse and move on, I opted to check the other horses' waters. Some were low, so I filled them, too.

Worth it?
Sure! It's not a big deal - we had time - and the horses need water. They really don't care WHO waters them. And someone else would have gotten to it, but maybe I saved that "someone else" some time.

Photo courtesy Michelle under Creative Commons License.