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Archive for the ‘Competence Project’ Category

Look!  It’s already the 4th.  I have been ruminating on the specifics of what I want to accomplish this year and while I never make do-or-die resolutions (I know my limitations and my follow-through often sucks), I wanted to put down for posterity the stuff I want to focus on this year.

First, I realized on New Year’s Day when I went to chant that I have really been missing God.  This year I want to focus on regaining a spiritual practice.  I probably won’t be writing very much about this because honestly, it’s really personal and my beliefs need not impinge on y’all.  I’m excited about this, though.

Second, and possibly an even bigger challenge than the first, is getting our stuff under control.  This involves a lot of honest evaluation, and I’m both looking forward to and dreading this.  It’s hard for me to face up to the amount of things we have and I truly think that we are imprisoned by our stuff when it is stuff we don’t love or use regularly.  I know I feel it when I walk through the house and trip over toys and books that just don’t have a place to live when not in use.  I have been conservative in the past about letting things go but this time around I need to remind myself that I am letting my things own me more often than owning my things.

Third, I am going to give a serious go to not eating meat that we don’t get from the CSA (not including fish since we can’t get that locally all the time and I really just eat sushi.)  Its’ being more expensive should help me to generally cut back on meat which can’t be a bad thing for my body or the earth.

Fourth, I am going to take time each day for the following:

  • meditating/chanting (15 min. a day)
  • knitting/weaving/spinning (15 min. a day)
  • yoga (30 min. a day)
  • a walk with the baby  (30 min. a day)

One hour a day, every day, where doing something for and by myself takes priority over the house, the laundry, the internet, and than another half an hour to get outside with the baby so that I can remember to connect with nature (such as it is here in the neighborhood).  This will be, I think, very important to keep me grounded as I go into classes and papers and figuring out how to slot together tasks.  I used to be quite good at getting lots of things done in a day and I’m hoping I can get a true schedule going again.

Fifth, and final, is the Riot/Competence Project.  I am tracking numbers for the Riot again, this time informally in a wee notebook that will fit in my pocket.  I’m going to set up a tab for that when we have completed the first week and all numbers will be kept there.  No spreadsheets, no making things more complicated than they need to be.  Just notes plugged into the calculator each week and then each month when we get the electric bill.  Easy peasy.  For the Competence Project, I will be learning to spin and weave for some time so I reckon as long as I check something off every month or so I’ll be happy.  This is not a big focus of mine at this point but I do want to continue with it.

And that, my friends, is that.  The year in preview as it were, again.  Now all I have to do is get started on it, eh?

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Without a doubt 2008 was one of my most eventful years yet.  Between the meningitis, foot surgery, volunteering, learning new stuff, and most importantly, getting into college, I have certainly kept myself busy.  And all this with two children!  I don’t know how I do it!

*eye roll*

It has been a big year, and overall I am really proud of myself for all that I have accomplished.  I am hoping 2009 will be more of the same, minus the health issues of course.  I’m setting pretty lofty goals, including getting back to the Riot, clearing the apartment of the stuff we just don’t use/need/want to keep tripping over, and the Competence Project.  I will also be taking 10 credits’ worth of classes, which will be interesting at least, terrifying at worst.  I’m trying to do less thinking and more doing, to be honest, because the more I think the more I can’t figure out how in heaven’s name I’ll get anything done what with the huddling in the corner muttering about nonsense.

I jest, I jest.  I huddle in therapy muttering nonsense.

The big thing I plan on doing in 2009 though?  Is giving myself a break from time to time.  Seriously.  I have a really bad habit of being hard on myself for not doing as much as I think I should and the result has been that I spend more time berating myself than giving myself time off.  And I need time off or I’m going to crack.  It’s the bitch about being a stay-at-home-mom.  It seems like you have nothing but time off but in actuality, not having the divide between work and home means that even your time off is working time off.  I’m hoping that having classes will allow me to feel like it’s ok to take time for myself.

In the meantime, today is my only day this week to get shit done so I fear a break will have to wait.

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to perform CPR on adults, children and infants.  It was really fun, actually, and now I’m all ‘rah rah Red Cross!’  And the neato book they give you has First Aid instructions so I can look that over instead of worrying about doing that course right away.  I have to say, I feel much more confident in my ability to handle an emergency know that I know I can perform basic CPR stuff. And did you know they offer a CPR for pets class?  I don’t know if I’ll take it but I may just order the book.

Next up:  spinning, then crocheting, then sock-knitting once I have made my scarf.  Yeehaw!

Hee 🙂

I get so giddy when I accomplish stuff.

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The Competence Project is growing by the minute and I’m nothing if not a joiner.  Only I’m gonna make my own list, see.  And I’m gonna put it right here, see.  Right after I stop typing like this, see.

Ok, I’m done now.

Anyway, these are the skills I want to learn over the next year.  Why a year, you ask?  Mostly because there are some I need to research, some that are seasonal, and some I will need help with.  I’m going to start with the ones I can do soon and then work my way to the long-term ones.

  1. Knitting–this one is underway.  I can knit.  I can purl.  I just need to learn to bind off and I’m ready to do a real, live project.
  2. CPR–I’m signed up for class on the 30th.
  3. Making cheese–I haven’t done this yet.  Can you believe it?  This weekend, I swear.
  4. Making butter–this weekend.  This one is a Lucy request.
  5. Baking bread–maybe this weekend as well but most likely after Thanksgiving
  6. Basic sewing repairs–Started today!  Fixed a glove and a footed sleeper with a bag strap and ripped jeans left to do later today.
  7. Basic sewing with an eye toward eventually quilting–the advent calendar will be my foray into the use of batting.
  8. Basic sewing with an eye toward clothes-making–I have some fleece to make into cloth diaper covers.
  9. Cooking with meats–I have 3 oxtails in my freezer that I’m a little intimidated by.
  10. Cooking with beets and other root veggies–we get so many beets each year and only the baby likes ’em.  There must be a way to prepare ’em for the rest of us.
  11. Make spice blends–I thought Gina’s idea was so cool that I’m totally going to steal it 😉

Eventual Projects:

  1. Grinding grain
  2. Eating from a container garden
  3. Saving seeds
  4. Getting certified in First Aid
  5. Basic woodworking–I’m talking making a bookshelf here, not anything fancy
  6. Oh how I’d love to learn to spin wool but I’m hesitant to commit the $$$ before I try it out.
  7. I may be ready to learn how to ride a bike.  Then again, I’d just be happy if I could get a really big three-wheeler.
  8. Basic plumbing, like fixing a leaky faucet, clearing a plugged drain, that sort of thing.

There’s probably more that I’ll add, but for now this gives me something to work on.

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A few months ago, right before my Chinese class started and I discovered how out of practice I was at managing my time, I bought a stack of used knitting books and kits on Amazon and borrowed a couple of books from my MIL.  I dutifully tried to figure out how to cast on for a couple of days, decided I had it down, and then carefully stacked everything next to our Tower O’ Craft Crap.  And it sat.  And sat.

Until yesterday.  WIth Chinese out of the way, classes for next semester chosen and enrolled for, I decided I was ready to knit already.  Out came the needles, the yarn, and the book I had the most success with before.  I gave it my all, grunting and squinting and trying to flip the page while holding the yarn and needle.  And it was sucking.

Thursdays are the day that my house is cleaned.  The woman who comes in is the loveliest person you’d ever want to meet and she’s an absolute whiz with, well, everything crafty.  She sews, knits, crochets, beads and cooks in a restaurant once a week.  And she took one look at what I was doing, showed me a far easier way to cast on, and now?  I have about two inches of knitting.  It’s going to be a red rectangle when I’m all done.  Maybe a scarf, although I’m a little leery of committing to any one design just yet 😛

And even better, I have a knitting teacher now.  She’s going to teach me to crochet as well.  And I, my friends, am thrilled.

But even more than the knitting, which I love like only an obsessive-tendencied person who finds repetitive motion meditative and who thrives in situations where there is a clear, observable result can, I am happy to have someone to pass this skill along to me.  It’s wonderful to have the books, and I will certainly use them as I get better and need patterns or tips or whatnot, but it is even more wonderful to have a real, live person to guide me.  It makes me feel like I am part of something bigger, and this has been a sort of mantra for me over the past few months.  Part of something bigger than myself, than my house, than my experiences.  People can change the world by being part of something bigger.

Sharon at Causabon’s Book wrote last week about The Competence Project.  She gives a list of skills that every person should have and I’ve been thinking about these, and the skills I would really like to have as I go forward.  Her list is pretty straight forward, and I was pleasantly surprised at how many skills on it I actually have:

  • cook a decent meal–simple meals, yes.  Healthy even.
  • handle an injury or illness crisis–not so much. I really need to take a first aid class.
  • tend a sick kid–yup, I can do this
  • fix a broken step–nope
  • darn a sock–absolutely
  • dehydrate a tomato–nope
  • tell a storyyep
  • grow a potato–I’m giving it a go but cannot claim knowledge yet 😉
  • build a sun oven–nope
  • bake a loaf of bread–again, giving it a go 🙂
  • put up a fence–I have helped with fence erection but would likely be screwed if I had to do it myself.
  • season cast iron–sho’nuff can
  • mend a rip–yup
  • care for a dying person–no
  • sing a baby to sleep–in *my* sleep
  • clean a toilet–again, in my sleep
  • knit or crochet a sock–soon.  soon.
  • fix a roof–nope
  • use a weapon–nope
  • plant a tree–nope
  • immobilize a limb–I could probably figure this out pretty easily.
  • make someone understand a counter-intuitive idea–yeah, I can do this if I try
  • save seed–not yet
  • sharpen a knife–yes ma’am.
  • chop garlic–absolutely
  • make beer–does ginger beer count?
  • have courage–surprisingly, yes if I remember to breathe
  • fix a bicycle tire–I can’t even ride a bicycle.
  • make soup–and good soup at that
  • give a pep talk–I am beyond lousy at pep talks.

The long and short of it is that I am lacking in a couple of big areas.  The big one is anything related to emergency care/medical stuff.  And having two small kids in the house, this is the big focus here.  I’m signed up for a CPR/AED class later this month, which will cover cardiac arrest and choking.  The other is the building of stuff.  I’m not entirely unhandy–I can put up drywall in a pinch although I’m better at the plastering and sanding.  But for the most part, I have no access to roofs or steps to learn to repair them.  That one will have to be put on hold.  The last is the seed saving, tree planting stuff, which I’m going to broaden into Learning about Plants and How They Do What They Do.  This one will hopefully be covered next semester in my science class which is about plants and how we use them, including medicinal uses.

The thing about self-sufficiency is that it forces me to admit that someday I may have to act alone.  Preparation takes some of the fear out of it.  And the more confident I have gotten in my ability to learn new skills and take charge of situations, the easier it has gotten for me to make decisions and act on them.  Maybe there will never be a time when I have to live off of my food stores but it’s sure nice to have them.  Maybe I’ll never need to perform CPR,  but it certainly will make me feel better to know how.  The more skills we have and share, the stronger we get.  And while I certainly can’t prepare for everything, building confidence where I can is one of the most important preparations I can make.  And that is one of the cheesiest sentences I’ve ever written.  Sheesh.

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