Thursday, 31 May 2012

Note to self

·         Begin and end each day with a prayer, 
·        Do not go out of your budget, save up for purchases.  Live as frugally as possible, leaving enough to be generous and to share, and see to it that there is a prudent margin then stop thinking about it.  Invest in property and do not leave sums on deposit in banks where it may be used for guns and bombs and sweatshops.  Keep your income low to avoid large sums going in taxation to the Inland Revenue where it will contribute towards war, vivisection and genetic mutation.  Keep your finances as uncomplicated and straightforward as possible: no credit card, no store cards, no complex investments, no tangle of insurances – just the basics.  Seek increasingly to reduce the role of money and the banking system in your life.
·        Be content with the provision of the household for food, adding only sparingly and a little of personal extras.
·        For cosmetics and toiletries be content with sodium bicarbonate, cider vinegar, aqueous cream, lavender and frankincense. Clean your teeth and hair with sodium bicarbonate and condition your hair with cider vinegar.
·        For medicines be provided with plasters, lavender oil, tea tree oil, propolis, hopi candles.
·        For keeping clean utensils and clothes, have good soap, borax, sodium bicarbonate, cider vinegar, lemons, lavender oil, tea tree, frankincense and myrrh.  Nothing else is necessary.
·        Let your food be simple and cheerful.  Enjoy wild food – blackberries, ramsons, mushrooms and elderberries, as well as home-grown vegetables and herbs.
·        For light and heat, be provided with seasoned wood and beeswax candles.  Every now and then go wooding for kindling sticks and fir-cones.
·        Limit computer use to writing your blog, professional commitments of editing and writing books and articles, preparing funerals, fulfilling the obligations of the church PCC secretary, archiving and recording, creating stationery, making financial spread-sheets etc, correspondence, researching (eg earth closets, gardening info, beekeeping etc) – and other creative work.  Spend no time on the internet socialising or idly cruising about looking at this and that and shopping.  If you need anything, look in the local stores or resource from plain and simple sites free of temptations (eg Dash or Landsend).  For the most part, strictly limit the time you spend using the computer to a couple of hours a day.
·        Shower once in three or four days, washing your clothes in the shower at the same time.  Eat a simple, low-fat, natural diet and avoid the stress of rush and tear and conflict, then your body will have no unpleasant odours.  Clean your teeth with bicarbonate of soda, wash your hair with bicarb and vinegar, adding borax and soap to the accumulated water to wash the clothes.  Rinse them in water saved from the roof or hot-water run-off.   Use family cloths or just water instead of toilet paper.
·        Save all water run off to get to the hot, store it in large jars and use for soaking pans, cooking vegetables, boiling for tea, watering plants, your bathroom needs and rinsing clothes.
·        Save as much rainwater as you have capacity for.  In rainy weather, harvest the water constantly to use instead of city water for watering indoor plants, soaking pans, rinsing clothes, steaming vegetables and house cleaning.  But do not drink the rainwater or incorporate it into cooking; use city water for that because of germs and parasites from birds.
·        Gather and dilute (from 1-in-3 to 1-in10) all urine and spread fresh on the garden at the end of the day once the dew falls.  It is full of nitrates and will make healthy plants.
·        Gather and compost in bokashi bran all nightsoil (free from urine).  Age the resulting compost in the big pile for the heat to neutralise pathogens before digging into the garden in the autumn.
·        Cook on the woodstove where practical in the winter, out of doors sometimes in the summer, and eat bread-based meals, fruit and salads often to avoid using electricity.  Use solar power for heating the water and running any electric appliances, remembering to work with the natural rhythms of light for any cooking with electricity, or ironing etc.  Save hot water in a thermos flask if you boil a kettle.  Stay with vegan or vegetarian food and fish for your own health, sustainable societies and compassion – let the animals go free.  Seek out honey from kind beekeepers who allow the bees to keep some of their honey for their own use.
·        Buy bread, cheese, butter, milk, fish, yoghourt, vegetables, grains and prepared foods from small local independent producers and retailers so far as your budget allows.  Remember that you bless and prosper only those you buy from, and are responsible for the society you have helped to shape thereby.  Check the social and environmental responsibility of your suppliers of clothing (and fabrics). Avoid packaging as much as possible, choosing shops that use paper bags which can be re-used for starting the fire.  Re-use what packaging you have attracted – for mailing packages, bagging trash (there shouldn’t be much of that), burning in the grate for a short fire (eg while you sit down for breakfast or a quick cup of tea but will be leaving the fireside soon).
·        Keep TV time to a minimum, watching only clean, intelligent and informative programmes, and uplifting well-crafted drama.
·        Every day: take abundant time in nature, walking and gardening; read and think and write; make things (bake, spin, knit, make stationery, prepare gifts for special occasions).
·        Give time to people who are lonely or vulnerable – little children and the old.  Identify a contribution to make to the work of the church, and do it faithfully.
·        Wherever possible, write letters not emails, do business personally with people not electronically or automatically with machines, deal in cash not plastic.
·        Go to live performances of music instead of relying on recorded music.
·        Live simply, kindly, justly and with immediacy – do not let the seeping isolation of automata and the electronic revolution saturate your life.  Avoid display of any kind; live quietly and retiredly.  Dress plainly and simply in quiet clothes that do not attract attention.
·        Be gentle with God’s creatures; give a home to a rescue animal, avoid killing, ensure that your choices look kindly on the habitat of wild creatures of every kind – leave a margin of wilderness in even the smallest garden, never travel with someone who drives too fast to stop for a running animal or startled bird.
·        Travel by public transport or walk. 
·        Take advantage of daylight and the morning hours.  Observe the rhythms of the seasons, work in natural light.  Every day take delight in the beauty and romance of light of all kinds – sunlight, starlight, firelight – sunrise and sunset; and remember to set time aside to watch the light on water – by lakes and canals, by streams and the ocean.  Walk in the woods and marvel at the dappling light in the trees.  Remember hearing and eyesight fade with age, muscles weaken and joints stiffen.  Do not miss the chance you have now to hear the birds sing, walk in the hills, and watch the glory of sunrise over the sea.
·        Work every day – keep your home clean, neat and clear of clutter, fulfil your responsibilities to family and society.  Work at what delights you, fulfilling the vocation of your inborn talents and abilities.  Play every day – reading, enjoying the company of friends, discussing and dreaming and creating.  If you work with the natural light and do not override the rhythms of the seasons by electricity, you will have the rest your body needs.
·        Do what you can for yourself, with your own hands.  Avoid automata, machinery you cannot maintain, sophisticated systems that mystify you and leave you at the mercy of people you do not know or trust.  Clean your own house, dig your own garden. Home-made clothes are the best, but be content with what you already have in your wardrobe, and avoid things that need ironing or add complication to your life. 
·        Don’t quarrel, speak kindly, think before you speak, never regard others with contempt, be patient and courteous.  Spend ample time in solitude and silence.  Always try to see the other person’s point of view.
·        Avoid clocks, mirrors, gadgetry, complication of every sort.  Consider the hidden dirt and risks, the moulds and leaks and health hazards of plumbing and electrification, the cost to the earth of white goods –  Be content with wet sand or water for cooling; take advantage of north-facing shady locations and the cool of the night; open and shut the windows and doors for a cooling breeze or passive solar heat; dry clothes on the line or over racks, doors and banisters.
·        Simplify wherever and whenever possible.  Live the simplest life your circumstances permit: and if your circumstances tend to complicate, look at how they can be changed.


365 366 Day 152 – Thursday May 31st
(if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here) 

 I liked this enamel mug because it said something along the lines of “Would you like a refill?” at the bottom on the inside – which made me smile.  Apart from that I thought it was pretty ugly really, but good for picnics etc.  However, I do have more than one other enamel mug and in reality I almost never go on picnics – the appeal of lugging heavy bags of food and utensils across rough terrain when you can eat in comfort at home or have a cup of tea in a café is largely lost on me.  So this particular enamel mug went to a charity shop.   


Daisyanon said...

A modern personal Book of Leviticus! Or so it seemed to read.

Um, 'family cloths' as toilet paper??? What does this mean?

As so often, your path is too narrow for me, but I am with you on a lot of the general principle.

I look forward to reading about your travels along this way.

Ember said...

:0) Hi friend!

Family cloths:

Ember said...

A second thought, Daisyanon - you know, this path may read narrow, but it doesn't feel narrow. I have a better combination of free time and disposable income than almost any person I know.

Daisyanon said...

Fascinating article on the family cloth. Not entirely convinced I want to do this! :) But I think it is a cultural attitude thing as much as any rational objection. Without going into TMI I think toilet paper will continue to work best for me.

Not sure I want to use a cloth that someone else has used before even if it has been laundered.

Yes, I worried about the reduction in income in retirement, but I seem to have more disposable income now. Partly better management, but also developing some of your general principles if not the specifics.

I would like to try the bicarbonate of soda and the borax but have no idea where to buy these things in sufficient quantity. Can you advise? The bicarb of soda isn't the same as baking soda is it? Or is it?

I have seen a lot of references on American sites but worry that we are not talking the same language, LOL!

Gail said...

Hi Ember, that's a very complete list. It does have me thinking. For example: I don't think I will ever (never say never) composte human waste. On the other hand, I could easily get horse manure off the road, we live in Amish country. Probably what stops me is looking odd to our few neighbors, must get over this! The world does press in on one but, I'm trying to be transformed by the spirit.Sorry to ramble....

Ember said...

Daisyanon - yep - baking soda. You can get borax and bicarb from hardware stores. x

Hi Gail :0) Why would you not compost human waste? Everyone did up until about 80 years ago. And the job is half done inside you! x

Hawthorne said...

A true recipe for life there, Ember.I follow many of these myself, and aim to do more.
I have been starting to make myself un-paper towels for the kitchen, but it never occurred to me till now to replace toilet paper too. I have been using cloth sanitary towels for years, making my own liners from used sheets, so wiping wee with a cloth is just another step on. I'm not sure that I'm ready for poo wiping yet though, as the weblink you posted pointed out, it's no different from using cloth nappies. Just a pyschological barrier to work on there.

Ember said...

Hi Hawthorne :0) I don't use cloths for poo either, because it's helpful to add paper (or sawdust or something) to the compost. With this in mind I line the receptacle with loo paper, wipe with loo paper, then wash with plain water. Thus the resulting parcel is encased in loo paper,making it not messy in handling for disposal and adding helpful carbon to the composting process. I should use newspaper really I guess - I don't read newspapers but the Badger does take the Church Times, which would be admirable for the purpose.
Washing, whether with just water or cloths, is cleaner than using paper.
I am past the age for sanitary towels but one of our household, who walks the same path I do, reports well of the cloth ones - better than disposable.
She puts the water from rinsing them through prior to washing on the roses (saves on blood-and-bone fertiliser and is more humane).

Asta Lander said...

Oh how I love the conversation going on here. I only use bicarb and vinegar to wash my hair now, and I love it. I finish off with a little fairtrade, organic coconut oil when it is dry.
In Australia we can get both bicarb and borax in the supermarket Daisyanon.
Toilet cloths - you know how excited this gets me Ember. For those who are nervous about sharing laundered ones - I don't. My family wouldn't dream of using them and I wouldn't share anyway. And I only use them for number ones. I don't use them everyday. I just forget, but I do prefer them.
Sanitary pads - I have made liners from pre-loved flannel pillowslips. I have also made some thicker ones that are very effective. I have used the lining that is used in the re-usable nappies. There is two types. One is bamboo - I can't remember what the other is.
What fun this is. Asta x

Anonymous said...


Your path is admirable. It is visionary, gentler and humane. Now, how can such plans as these be translated so that those living in flats (highrise for our North American friends) the frail/infirm, those with disabilities etc can participate? In many juristictions tank water for domestic use is still a no-no (check with your local council to see what is permitted within your LGA), increasingly, wood stoves are, in a twist of irony, being 'outlawed' for 'Green' purposes and at any rate, for folk in a place like Australia, many regions are too hot for combustion water heating/cookery for most of the year and firebans would prevent such being operated even in a kitchen or canteena separate from the house during stretches of our summer months. Many of us, though we would love otherwise, are part of the system - especially, with yet more sad irony - the vulnerable. Could 'Slow food/Slow money/slow living/transitional town' inspired households be established similar to the amazing L'Arche model to be a way forward for we with a disability, the elderly/infirm, the lonely, the isolated? ...Australia has the highest rate of urbanisation in the world; I think it is up around 91% of our overall population. Our wonderful 'Gardening Australia host 'Kosta' has sparked an interest in nature-strip/grass verge veg patches and already one local council has successfully outlawed them. systemic change is needed so those of us who would love to can, because the post WWII model is, I fear, in the medium term, largely unsustainable.

I would genuinely appreciate your thoughts upon this in a future post.

I am in full agreement with you re financials, and thank God daily we are out of debt.



Daisyanon said...

"Church Times, which would be admirable for the purpose." So true! ROFLMAO!!!

Ember said...

Hi friends :0)

Asta - re the dry hair, I was interested to read that the cider vinegar amount can be varied to affect this. More cider vinegar softens the hair further, so if you have dry hair you can add a little more, if your hair has gone a bit lank, add less. I believe that, as you say, coconut oil is also great for dry hair, and I have heard that ladies of African descent also favour coconut oil.

Ember said...

Sarah - yes, good idea, I will take up the points you make in tomorrow's post.
Just an initial general observation: my experience is that if I talk about my way of living (which I have learned not to do except here), it often finds a defensive reaction. People pick out one or two aspects, insist that for special reasons it couldn't possibly work for them, and on those grounds dismiss the whole endeavour.
At one time I was committed to attempting to convert others to my way of thinking, but I no longer am. My focus now is on discerning and following a way that works for me, in my particular context with all its limitations.
But you are not the only one to have wondered how this might work for flat-dwellers or disabled folk.
As I have lived in a one-bedroom flat, live now in an urban context, and am not disabled but no great shakes on DIY or difficult physical endeavours, yes I will happily address these questions! xx

Ember said...

Daisy . . . the Church Times . . .


Buzzfloyd said...

Could ladies who have made their own sanitary towels offer some advice on technique?

Wimmera said...

bleached toilet paper is dangerous.
I like to read your blog

Ember said...


Alice Y. said...

I love it, Ember. It reminds me of some of the documents provided when I did a course at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre a while back. It was called "A rule to live by", based around encouraging people to write out our "Rule of life" and think about the community which could support us and hold us accountable in living it. Several previous participants had sent their Rule documents to be shown (without identifying information) to the next group doing the course. I love hearing what people have found helps in staying near to God.

Washable menstrual supplies - I like the "Days for Girls" site - they encourage crafters to donate a day to make these for girls around the world who otherwise wouldn't be able to go to school when they have their period as they have nothing to use. Patterns at the website and all the instructions for making a couple of simple designs which could be a good start for someone just starting down that path.

Ember said...

Oh, thanks, Alice! x

Ember said...

Alice - the Third Order of Franciscans likewise has its members work out for themselves a personal rule of life.