This has been a very difficult decision. A while ago, I received some angry comments posts from a reader. Comments that were directed toward me and my children. Based on the comments (which I let go unpublished), I can harbor a guess to the identity of this person. The person has a relationship with someone from whom my children and I have a five year order for protection.

Due to these comments, I feel that my safety and the safety of my children is jeopardized. I have chosen to do a few things:  stop posting at this blog,  start a new anonymous blog, not mention my family online, only allow chosen people the address of the new blog (along with my identity). I have struggled with this decision for a number of months, but have decided that safety has to come before any desire to communicate with you.I have enjoyed communicating with you and look forward to following the paths of you, my blogging community.


Participate by not participating in the chaos of “Black Friday.”

Living simply does not have to mean sacrifice or hardship. It means focusing on the things that are important to us and in our lives.

I often talk to my students about simplifying their designs. When students design, often the tendency is to throw everything into the mix. This confuse the audience and doesn’t give our eyes a place to rest. White space is important in designs, as it serves a function to give us a rest and us time to process the information.

Recently, I realize how similar this is to our journey to simple living. When our homes and lives are filled, we do not have a chance to focus on the message at hand. We cannot easily focus with the clutter that is created in our lives, schedules, homes, and minds. Simplifying lightens our lives and gives us “white space” – a place for our minds and lives to focus on what we find is important. This thing that is important could mean different things to different people.

Quakers have a testimony on simple living. This testimony is in part a belief that if we simplify and reduce our need of things, we can focus inward on the light of God. That inward focus is white space in our minds.

When we look at our homes, we can seek that white space as well – if we are concerned with obtaining and caring for things, then these things take over our lives and we have less time to care for ourselves and our life joys – be it family, the garden, volunteering, etc. Simplifying our lives by reducing what we use and what we do can provide us with the opportunity to seek the light and focus on the joy in life. This does not mean sacrifice, it means seeking what truly matters.

How do you create white space?

Recently, Sharon of Casaubon’s Book suggested that people involved with the riot post about a day in the life of Rioting. Here goes:

DH – spouse, M – daughter, age 14, E – daughter, nearly 9, Z –  son, age 7, G – son age 3 (recovering from a staph infection), Sammy – son just turned 1

12:00 am – Sammy is awake and is hungry. I sleepily roll out of bed and pull him into mine to feed him. I fall back asleep.

4:00 am – I need to get up and give Gavin (age 3) his antibiotics. He is recovering from a staph infection. Back to bed.

5:30 am – Sammy is having a rough night. He is teething and wants to nurse frequently. More feeding….

6:30 am – Sammy is like a rooster. The clock on my battery powered clock turns to 6:30 and his eyes flutter open. I think he has an internal clock. He and I get up and allow DH to sleep.

I use the bathroom (and don’t flush) and change Sammy’s cloth diaper. I then wash my hands and dry on a cloth towel. I put Sammy in one arm and go into the basement where I gather the clothes that were drying on a drying rack overnight. I put more clothes into the washing machine and allow to soak in cold water.

Back upstairs. I put some water in my tea kettle and grind some beans. I am back on the coffee kick – is it the lack of sleep, or my need for comfort in this ever despairing world? Perhaps a little of both. The grinder is electric. I unplug it immediately, pour the grounds into my french press (no filter needed), and put away the grinder. I should look for an non-electric version. I pour hot water onto the grounds and let it steep.

I use the hot water to start soaking some oatmeal for Sammy. Takes a little more time, but less energy. I pour myself a bowl of homemade granola and top it with homemade yogurt. I share some yogurt with Sammy. We finish my breakfast and hear the dog whining. I think she has an internal clock as well.

7:30 am – I wake Madison (age 14) and wish her a Happy Birthday. It is her job to walk the dog every morning. She gets up and takes the dog out. In the meantime, I go to children’s bedrooms and wake them. I laid out all the kid’s clothing the night before – so they have no problems getting dressed. I quietly awake Z so that he does not wake Gavin. G needs as much sleep as he can get right now. I remind E to make her bed and tell Z that I will make his after G awakes.

The cereal bowls, cereal (bulk), and spoons are laid out on the table (did that last night). I pull our local organic milk out of the fridge and pour it for the children. I then go into the kitchen and fix their lunches for the school day. We use reusable containers (laptop lunches) for lunches. I make sandwiches from homemade wheat bread, hummus, local cheese, and local spinach. I add local carrots, an apple, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. I place a water bottle into the box and put it all into their backpacks. I take a picture of the lunch for the waste category in Green365.

As they eat I feed Sammy some of his oatmeal. He loves it. By this time, he is covered, so I take off his nightclothes and put them to soak in the washing machine. I wash his face with a cloth washcloth and get him dressed. Then I go into my bedroom and quietly dress for work. The babysitter will be here soon.

8:30 am – I have the kids leave for the bus (picks them up across the street). I sit inside and drink some coffee while I check my online calendar and email. I recheck today’s course syllabus so that I can remember what topic I am teaching. I watch the kids at the bus stop while checking the feeds for the R4A website. I read the postings and try to quickly discern which topics they should be moved into. Sometimes it is not easy to figure it out. DH is now up and dressed. He is drinking local apple cider and preparing for a day to convert one of our cars to run on WVO. Fun day.

8:45 am – babysitter is here. I brush my teeth, wet my hands and run them through my curly hair (a little water can reactivate my curls). I use the bathroom again and this time flush. I wake G and give him his second type of antibiotic and mark down the type and time on our whiteboard. Unfortunately, it takes two of us to give him his meds. He doesn’t like it. I take a look at M’s homeschool work for the day – and remind her that she has an exam coming up soon. I go around and quickly make my bed as well as the little kid beds.

9:00 am – I put on my shoes, give everyone a kiss, and put on my jacket, headband (to protect my ears from the cold) and my helmet. I put my stainless steel water bottle into my backpack, add last night’s dinner as my lunch and I sling my pack on my back and head out to my bike. I open the garage door and am off down the hill.

The wind is biting today – winter is coming and I can feel it in the air. I am wearing gloves and a good hiking coat which keeps part of me warm. I am going to have to rethink my bottom half – my mary jane shoes look great for teaching and work well for biking, but don’t work in the cold. During the autumn, I have been rolling up my right pant leg to protect my pants from the chain. I have to rethink that method.

It takes about 10 minutes and I am locking up my bike outside of the campus building. I know people think that it is crazy to be biking in this weather, but I intend to show others that it is possible. I will do it for as long as I can.

9:30 am – I am in my office and meet with advisees about the upcoming semester. I can’t believe it is already that time of the year.

10:00 am – First class of the day: Senior Seminar. We watch a short video about visual story telling and discuss how graphic designers use visuals to tell stories. We talk about artist’s such as Norman Rockwell who created an iconic image that tells a story that we retell. We talk about an image of a fat man wearing a fuzzy red and white suit and how we read it – what is symbolizes to us, what story that one image tells us and how we use stories as artists and designers to inspire people.

11:30 am – the second class. Senior Design Studio 1. The students are working on an identity system in which they are selling an emotion. They have created a brand with logo, intended audience, packaging, etc. The chosen emotions include envy, love, disgust, anger, and sorrow. It is interesting to see how they are conveying a feeling of something rather than a thing. The end of the semester is coming up soon and they have a lot of work to do.

12:45 pm – class has finished and I return to my office. I have more meetings with advisees soon.

1:00 pm – meeting with advisees. Graduation is soon!

2:00 pm – I am finished with my advising duties for today. It is time to grade a few projects and then work on syllabi for next semester – Snr Design Studio 2, History of Graphic Design, Motion Graphics, and Digital Photo (Photo 3). I also have an exhibition in the spring for the grant I received to work on my Green 365: Rioting Photos. I need to think about other types of images I need to take. I realize that the photos are large and take a lot of time to download. I should resize, but time is an issue….

3:30 pm – Time to go home. I head down the stairs and out to my bike. Fortunately, I am not the only biker. I head back home (into the wind) and watch carefully for cars, and people opening car doors. I really love biking to and from work. I enter a quiet house. Our baby sitter has the kids playing in the family room. This gives me a chance to get dinner started. Madison wanted a special dinner for her birthday. I put a local chicken into the oven. I feel a little guilty as I usually only use the oven one day a week (Fridays I bake bread, cookies, and pizza). However, it is her birthday – a special day and am fulfilling her dinner request. She also wants steamed carrots, romensco broccoli, mashed potatoes, and cornbread. There was a cornbread recipe recently on the R4A email list. I will revisit that.

4:00 pm – Time for the babsitter to go home. I nurse Sam and see how G is going. He seems to be doing better. He lost his toenail and skin around his big toe yesterday. Poor guy. It is time for more antibiotics (he is taking two types). E walks into the house. Z has after school academy. He suffers from ADHD and learning disabilities and gets additional help after school. E empties her lunch box (so I can wash it) and sits at the dinner table to do homework. She works for a while and then it is time to do 30 minutes of reading. I help her read and have M sit at the table and go over homeschool assignments and questions. We discuss American colonialism and talk about Quakers role in America (we attend Quaker meetings). I put some dirty clothes and dirty wash rags and cloth towels (versus paper towels) into the wash and start it.

6:00 pm – Z walks in the door and it is time for dinner. We use cloth napkins and cloth place mats. I encourage G to eat some yogurt with dinner (to prevent diarrhea). We have a small birthday party. M has an ipod (gift from grandparents last year) – so we purchased some itune download $ for her. She can choose her own songs, but no waste is created. We eat store purchased cake and ice cream.

7:00 pm – Everyone clears the table. S is tired. Time to bathe. I usually let the three boys bathe together, but with G’s foot…. He needs to do it alone. S gets a washcloth bath. Z takes a 5 minute shower (timed) and G gets a quick washdown. E takes a 5 minute shower upstairs. S is nursed and put to bed. E+Z need to read in their rooms for 30 minutes. Teeth are brushed.

8:00 pm – I check on E+Z and place their clothes out for tomorrow. I clean the detritus from dinner. The chicken carcass will be used for soup tomorrow night. I put it into a pot of water. The dishes are hand-washed with a small amount of water and placed into the dishwasher to dry (I do use the dishwasher for it’s purpose from time to time). Breakfast dishes are put out onto the table for tomorrow. I hang clothes on the drying rack.

8:45 pm – time for another round of antibiotics.

9:00 pm – DH leaves for swimming. He has worked on the car almost all day. He goes to the Y to swim and shower. I check on email, check the web feed for the R4A site and try to figure out how to get the feeds to feed better. I did write the R4A site into my grant, so I guess I can think of this as work. I guess I need to learn php programming. Ugh. I take a 5-minute shower – using baking soda and cider vinegar to wash my hair. I turn off the water as a soap up with locally made soap and then turn it back on to rinse. I let my hair air dry.

10:00 pm – I walk around and clean up all clutter before bed. Any hotspots? Laundry is folded and put away (one of M’s usual jobs – but reprieved due to birthday). Sammy is awake again. I nurse him back to sleep. DH returns home. We discuss the day and plans for tomorrow.

10:30 pm – Time for bed!

It’s been a little over a month since I last posted. I needed a break. You see, life was getting to be too much. I was overwhelmed with the things that were happening in our personal lives as well as as the state of our world. I had one foot in the “normal” world and one in the world in which I saw what was happening around us. I was sad, overwhelmed, and blogging seemed like — another job.

At times life seems very surreal to those of us who know about peak oil and climate change. I read energybulletin, watch oil prices rise, read the latest about climate change and start to panic. Then I look at the people living and working around me and very few people respond. So many believe that “things will return to normal.” I hear this and look at my children and weep – for them and for their futures. What will that entail?

I have read that climate change is worse than we believed. We may have passed the point of no return. My spouse doesn’t believe that any reduction matters – it is too late. There is so much Co2 in the atmosphere already…. I know that we need to do this – if not for Co2, then because we need to prepare. We need to prepare for a world without oil (or less of it at an affordable price), a climate that may not provide all of our needs and wants, and fewer natural resources. As I look through our 90% list, all of our goals fulfill both needs – reducing our emissions also prepares us for a life where we use less and become more self-reliant. All of which are good – for ourselves, our world, and our children.

Between problems involving health issues, structural issues (home), and other family issues, I am more than slightly overwhelmed. I hope that I will be able to return to regular posting soon. It may, however, be a while.

Check back. I have a number of issues I want to address, but not the time to do so. Until then.



This has been a very difficult year for us. In between floods and nannies our house has seemed to have fallen apart. Although I want to sit and write about things taht we can do to make change (and I do have a running list of blog topics), I become overwhelmed with the state of our personal lives.

So, the other day our dishwasher died. I have been avoiding washing dishes by hand – simply due to the size of our family. When you cook all from scratch and feed 7 people daily, it becomes a lot of dishes. I had been using our dishwasher to do dishes (no – not the homemade children type of dishwasher – the mechanical kind). Well, it died. The computer panel fizzled out. It would cost more to repair than purchase new. Ugh.

So, I started to wash by hand. I actually found pleasure in the actions of washing by hand – although I did not relish the amount of dishes.  So, the crockpot again became my best friend. That seemed to save some dishes. One to cook in and then wash. I liked that. I had never washed dishes by hand on a regular basis. I grew up with dishwashers, every house I lived in had dishwashers. Why not use them? Now I was forced into hand washing.

Remember that flood that we had about a month ago? Well…. It seems that as water finally went down our sewer pipes, they become clogged with little pieces of paint. The paint that floated up from the tiles on the basement floor. As I washed dishes (and used more water than accustomed to), the paint clogged more and more of the line until one day the slow drain became extremely slow. Yes. My dish washing style now had to change.

Of course we are getting our line cleaned (as I speak). I learned over the weekend how to wash dishes by hand with using the least amount of water (so that little goes down the drain).

1) fill a small bowl with a little water and little soap

2) use a  rag (dishrags can be re-used by washing after use)

3) wipe down the dish

4) rinse with a little (tiny bit) water or fill a small pan with water and dunk

5) drip dry

I have never been so careful with the use of water. It felt good to be forced to analyze how I use water. Now that we have a drain again, I look forward to trying to continue this out of choice rather than need.

So, although our weekend was tough – showers at the Y or at friend’s homes, or in the rain (clothed) and skipping flushes, I learned to be conscious about our water usage. There was a silver lining to a broken dishwasher and a clogged sewer line.

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