Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Econtraryonomics, part deux

My sister-in-law said it best. She said, “It’s unnerving.” She lives outside of Atlanta and they have not had gasoline, businesses are in business one day and gone (with the doors locked to the former employees) the next, nothing anywhere is as we might have expected it to be.

Where I am coming from is that I have seen this coming, even though I have never known (and don’t now) the exact form it will take. I said to my father back in the 1990s, “This cannot continue.” That was about the stock market. But I said the same sort of thing about land prices as they became untenable. Housing. Everything that has inflated beyond any real form of value. And now, unlike in the Great Depression, there is not an ever-expanding source of domestic oil nor do people actually know how to grow or even cook their own food as most did then. I’ve long felt food, especially food, was vulnerable because of its dependence on oil. So now we have peak oil combined with a financial meltdown fueling . . . who knows what.

So, just so you know, I feel the same sorts of uncertainties I think as everyone else. I do think I’m more prepared for them than most people, but still. It is an uncertain time. I do feel for people who expected one thing, who worked hard for one thing even, and find that it won’t be there for them, no matter what they do. I understand the factors that blind people into believing that it can’t happen, or at least that it can’t happen to them. I know that denial is the most basic Freudian defense mechanism, and if you are a little more advanced, you’ve probably learned to rationalize why I just can’t happen, not to you, not again.

And even if you are more enlightened, like me and my SIL, it is still unnerving.

Suck it up, folks. Life is changing. It would have been better to have developed a vision for what it could be, for the wonderful possibilities that it can hold, before now. But right now, well, don’t be expecting it to stay the same. Or for it to get back to “normal”. Rather, retirement and vacations will be seen as useless and wasteful things not needed by those living a useful life. Instead of “investing” in children's college funds, we can invest in building multiple generational lives with them, real life skills, etc. We can save ourselves, save the earth, and live moral lives worth living all at the same time.

There are alternative and hopeful visions to be seen out there. It is part of what I’ve been trying to model for all these years here. Come on folks, shake it off, suck it up, get on with it.


barefoot gardener said...

Thank You! This post mirrors my recent thoughts exactly. Great job.

arcolaura said...

Big change in habits - how? Have to change everything, from what you're eating to why you're getting up in the morning. Small steps, or crash course/boot camp?

Do I retreat, cut myself off from everything except creating a base of independent survival? Do I reach out even more, to shake up my complacent church community and say "wipe the agenda, throw out the org charts, let's figure out what's about to hit our people and what our mission will be to help them through it"? Can I be in both places at once?

You've made some big changes in your lifetime. What made it possible? What helped it work? Someone telling you to suck it up? Someone working alongside you, keeping you going, helping you figure out what's most needed and how to achieve it?

Your blogs and your outlook form one of the magnetic poles in my life, and I'm grateful for that. But lately I'm feeling stretched, torn, like all the poles are too far apart and visiting each of them just brings burden, guilt, fear.

It's a grey blustery day here and a stormy day inside me and everything's a mess inside and out. I guess I'm out of sorts; maybe I should stay out of sight. Not say anything until I have something nice to say...

Why does your blog tear me up so?

CG said...

well laura, you provide a lot to talk/think about. I don't guess I think anyone TELLING you to suck it up does that much good, but somewhere along the way, it is important to have learned to suck it up. And sometimes a reminder that sucking it up is necessary can be helpful. I hope.

You know, I don't think you can throw out your church's agenda, or shake anybody up who doesn't want to be shook up, and so, yes, I've chosen personal and familial responsibility. But community will be important. In fact, I think real community is the thing that we have lost perhaps even more than personal responsibility in the modern lifestyle. But you cannot have community with people who are only takers and that's just a fact. And in order to be "givers", people have to have something to give -- you cannot make up an entire community out of people who want to network your computers together, or cook breakfast once a week. Communities are harder than that.

I guess what I see as a bottom line is that people, pretty much all people, have gotten to thinking that they "deserve" stuff, that corn bread and beans would kill them, or that they can't do stuff. I say, you don't "deserve" anything at all, corn bread and beans is good food, and yes, you need to get off your duff and figure out how to do something.

What made my big changes possible? I think about that and can come up with lots of "answers" but I think in the end it was my own willingness to be inconvenienced in order to manifest my vision. Having a vision to begin with seems to be a bigger step than a lot of people are willing to take. That I knew my grandparents is really important although they didn't live to see these changes. The fruits of my parents' lives didn't impress me, but the fruits of my grandparents' lives did.

I think the biggest thing right now for most people is to not maintain the expectation of the modern, wastrel lifestyle. Develop the idea that things could be better by being more simple, closer to the bone.

Well, that is certainly a mishmash of thoughts. I do miss my Canadian friends! I'll be up to visit your thoughts.

Purest Green said...

I just wish we could develop this "simpler, closer to the bone" way of living without inflicting so much guilt on those who live in cities. Everything lately is all DOOM! DOOM!and it all leaves me feeling anxious because I live in a wee flat - I can't just grow my own fruit and veg. There has to be a more postive way of approaching this whole situation.

CG said...

ok, since you live in a little flat in the city, what is your vision for how to live sustainably and hopefully and without exploitation of the rest of the world there? There is actually a goodly amount written about urban gardening, so I don't quite believe the "can't just" thing. Nor do I believe, not totally, the doom doom thing.

But neither do I feel the need to temper my vision because I've had the luck and the wisdom to live in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Red Haired Stranger said...

The other night driving home to the ranch I felt a wave body slamming, heart pounding, mind imploding fear that I hadn't experienced since I worked the ambulance service in San Francisco many years ago.
My car was fine, the road clear, I just could not attach it to anything current. The problems in my life are simple compared to what seems to be happening in the financial institutions across the planet and the impact on their investors.
It took some deep breathing and straight talking to myself to calm down. After pondering it and watching the news I got a flash that what had come over me was some
of the stuff of others getting the news of "the illusion of their wealth, savings, retirement dissappearing. We only have "NOW",
what is important are our families, our community, the state
of the land we live on, the quality
of life that we leave and the realization that what affects one, affects all.

CG said...

the vibrations right now are pretty powerful, red. And the abrupt changes of direction of it too. I worked Sunday and stopped for gas on my way home. After paying my $20 I noticed the regular was "only" $3.09 and I thought about coming home and blogging, "Happy Days Are Here Again, They Are Giving Away Gas for ONLY $3.09! Give me my Hummer!" Then today, my gosh! but the stock market is UP by a thousand! Wow! That really worked!

And people still aren't making real things, still aren't, for the Gods' sakes, making SUPPER!

But a ratcheting is exactly what I'd expect folks. Nothing ever happens in a straight line -- except sometimes going over a cliff. Or out an airplane without a parachute that works. But h*ll, even then there's a bounce.

which as macabre as that little observation is, it isn't meant as doomdoom! laughing

Alecto said...

How am I supposed to keep a straight face when you're asking for a hummer? Seriously, I think it's best just to not look at these things. Look at dinner, look at bugs, look at chickens, look at where you think you might hide that cow...

arcolaura said...

Well, I don't like to add to the doomdoom, but if you like to know what's coming, you might want to check out this guy's take on the "bounce"...

Red Haired Stranger said...

Well Contrary, the choices people are making are well a bit bizarre
these days. We went to Sheridan,WY on Saturday for our once a month
bulk grocery buying, auto parts and hardware store stock up. It was a buying frenzy. 'Course with the snow fall
all the ranchers from 500 miles around were there too. I did see several hummers in town and wondered when those shiny beasts
ever got off the pavement. Don't understand their appeal, they are uncomfortable to ride in, hard to get into, it must be some elusive mysique that I'm immune to. Laughed at your comment about the hummers. The Cowboy said that folks are all out trying hard to spend what they haven't got, look like something they just can't be..and still aren't happy. The Cowboy, who hadn't been off the ranch since spring marveled at the number of people in town. We decided to have
a light lunch; split a sandwich and
salad and each have a bowl of soup.
The place was full up, all the resturants were packed in town.
I wondered if people were just pretending that life is great and the economy booming.
Gas is down to $3.26 a gallon, just this summer it was a dollar more at the same pumps. We're thinking about filling our bulk tanks up for winter, but wonder if the price will go down even more.
Gotta feed the cows, had a great hay year, every hay yard on the place is full, first time we haven't had to buy hay in many years. Flip side is that the cattle market is down. Where do
folks think their meat comes from?
Why buy beef raised in Argentina or Brazil??? Who knows what those cows have been fed or treated with.
We raise grass fed beef, we treat
our cows like family members, we don't give them hormones, use horses to move them, do our best to give them peaceful, calm lives
and darned, they make wonderful
steaks and delicious hamburger.
I'd rather know the animals that I
eat personally. I know that these
cows had good lives, were treated well and cared for with love.
The family has been on this same piece of ground for 4 generations.
A brother and his three sisters
came out and homesteaded next to each other. The original buildings
are still on the ranch. I gotta get to work and stop pondering.
I enjoy your blog...Great thoughts CG...

J said...

The sad thing is that with gas price dropping so many will think things are OKeyDokey and just trott around in LALA Land instead of getting their asses in gear and doing something. I'm not trying to be mean and sarcastic but it's frustrating seeing folks go on as if we aren't in danger.
DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF! PLEASE! I eat out, I'm not doing all that I should but I'm doing something. I'm trying... Not looking the other way or sticking my head in the sand.
Getting down from soap box.
CG your blog is an inspiration and it gives me ideas and hope for a better life. Thank you.

CG said...

hey folks! thanks for the thoughtful comments! you don't know how cheering I find that.

j, I'm not doing "all" I can either, I'm not doing this as penitence but as joy. But like you, I do find people so frustrating for the lala land living that mostly I'd rather not be around them. I don't mind if people have a different take on it than me, I mind when they refuse to think about it, or refuse to think that they have a choice, etc. How many times I've been told that I'm just "lucky"!

red, my gosh, I want so much to hear more! It hasn't been a great hay year here but better than last year and I've been so fortunate (lucky!) to have been given people's old hay so I think mine will be ok this year.

alecto, two hummers live on my way to the barn and I think it is so hilarious when people's cars cost more than their houses! And good luck hiding that cow!

arco, checking out link. . . .

thingfish23 said...

Great post, as usual cg. You and eleutheros provide a potent 1-2 punch these days. It was nice to see a post on his site, finally. He makes ya wait, but the quality's there.

We have some more pumpkins coming and the peppers are still producing like mad.

I'm reading, and I believe we'll implement "Square Foot Gardening". I can't battle our alkaline soil constantly! Has to be raised beds for us. Those in the square foot system are easy to make and maintain.

The weather is just right for outside projects now. Feels like Winter's going to be cold this year - even down here.

CG said...

tf, it is vital you get this! Grow what grows THERE! You can probably push that some, but the harder you push it, the more disadvantages there are. So, whatever native folks grew and ate there, or in places in the world similar to there, is what you need to change your cuisine to.

Mel and SFG have some good ideas, particularly psychological ones. However, old Mel does NOT love soil, more's the pity. He puts weed cloth under his beds. Now, if you have trouble with your compost amendments leaching out of your beds, this could be an advantage to you in some things, but with shallow soil you are always going to be limited in what you can really grow there -- no root crops, and even things like corn don't like it.

For a soil lover, see John Jeavons' work.

I don't know who to reference you to who grows in your latitude in your soil type. But that's what you need to know.

Oh, we haven't even had the first fire yet. Although we did clean off the stove today and will likely have one tonight -- but more for fun than because we really need it -- more a celebration of fire season.

Alan said...

Just found your blog. It was mentioned by Deb on her blog and I wandered over. Looks like you are a bit further along the path to independent sustainability than we are but we seem to be on a similar journey - kids, small farm, home school, cheese, etc. Adding you to my reader list. Some days I need inspiration to keep going.