Dear Family:
August 22, 2012, 1:23 PM
Filed under: Buy Local, Decluttering, Mindful Consumerism | Tags: ,


As a new school year begins, along with college football and all things autumn, your thoughts may begin to turn towards The Holidays. Christmas specifically. So here I am, in August, hopefully before anything has been bought, asking you to forget all the fool’s gold of the upcoming season and instead focus on the best parts it  has to offer. For me, that includes outdoor light’s and music, decorations and homemade cookies-they’re all special. Christmas Eve candlelight services are meaningful and sacred. But piles of gifts aren’t  necessary to make merry. All that’s required is for us to spend time together as a family, and it’s a party. You know, time spent watching ‘Christmas Vacation’ and ‘Christmas Story’ for the umpteenth year in a row. Time spent letting me beat ya’ll at Scrabble. Time spent laughing until I wet my pants. Time spent in the kitchen together, making chili and buckeyes. And the best part? There’s no credit card bills due come January, no mountains of wrapping paper to throw away, nothing to return to the mall the day after Christmas.  But since you always want to ‘buy me something’ here are some ideas for gifts that won’t require you to go in debt, or to wrap. And I’ll love knowing that we’re helping locally owned businesses stay in business:

– Florida Citrus -you know, the kind high schools sell as fundraisers. Not the 3 oranges in a fancy basket kind, all done up with cellophane and a bow, but the kind that come piled in a plain cardboard box-they’re the best! This is the only NON-localized gift on my list, but at least it’s not from California.

– Tickets to the Blue Moon Dinner Theater in downtown Johnson City

– A prepaid  punch card for the neighborhood oil change shop

– Gift certificates to most any LOCAL eatery-(I’d like to try that new Lebanese or Mediterranean place in town)

–  Vegan Cupcakes made by Veronica at Mid City Grill, Pizza from Scratch Bakery, or Mennonite donuts from the Farmer’s Market

– Candles or hand-made soaps made by local craftspeople

– Paid admission to a writer’s workshop

–  My two front teeth

The simplicity of Thanksgiving has become my new favorite holiday because it’s all about family too, but doesn’t require gifts, or even a card. Just a turkey and some cornbread dressing. OK, a pumpkin pie or two as well. I don’t want you to think I’m  a Scrooge or a jerk, it’s just that I’ve spent the last 2 months unpacking and finding places for all the crap I moved from the old house to this one and am finding that the more I declutter the freer I feel and the simpler my life is. I have less stuff to worry about now, which means less stuff for YOU ALL to worry about when I’m gone. So, don’t get caught up in the consumerism of Christmas this year, please. This year be mindful: Stop and listen, taste and smell, but don’t buy it. That will be priceless.

Helping Out In The Kitchen!

The Johnson City Bike Kitchen that is… According to their Facebook page, this nonprofit is a  volunteer effort to “become a staple for independent, self-reliant transportation in Johnson City, TN!”  I wrote about this community-building collective  back in May. Since then, we’ve moved to our new home in downtown Johnson City and are trying to declutter and downsize to fit our new space. One (large) thing that we really no longer had the room for, but still had the need for, was a bicycle stand. The Bike Kitchen needed one. Michael decided to donate the stand to their efforts so they can help  local bicyclists keep their bikes running (without charging a dime for the service)! The bike collective was  thrilled to get the badly needed stand, and today Michael rode his bike the mile or so to the kitchen, to get his own brakes adjusted. Cool how that worked out, huh?

The new kitchen is open on Tuesday’s from 8ish to 10 AM, and again from 4ish to 8 PM. Their new space is located behind Shakti in the Mountains, at 409 E Unaka Ave. Johnson City, TN  37601. You can take your bike there and use the stand and their tools as well as get help with your repairs. They already have a nice collection of frames, spare parts and tools to work with, although they would welcome any extras you may have collecting dust in your garage-they’ll get them road worthy and pass ’em on to someone that needs transportation. If this isn’t one of the best ways to build community, form resiliency and self sufficiency, recycle old and unused bikes, all while we learn to transition to a lower energy world,  I don’t know what is!

In addition to operating the Bike Kitchen, The Little City Bike Collective will be holding group rides twice a month. “Like” their Facebook page, to keep up on their activities or to help with their needs: https://www.facebook.com/LittleCityBikeCollective

New habits in a new home
June 26, 2012, 6:58 AM
Filed under: Decluttering, Uncategorized


We begin our long awaited move from the country to the city today and no doubt I’ll be too busy to post for a while, but I did want to make one observation out loud this morning before we begin loading the truck. All these years I thought I was living simply, but I was obviously thinking of Gandhi or a Tibetan monk or someone other than myself because we’ve got enough stuff to fill two houses! I’m turning over a new simplicity leaf though, and plan to continue my decluttering efforts long after the move is completed. A strange thing has taken place over this week-long packing phase; I’ve noticed that the more I get rid of, the easier it’s become to do so. When I first began filling boxes I wanted to hang on to it all. Now, it’s begun to look like so much stuff, rather than treasured belongings. I guess it’s a habit, this letting go-ness. A habit I want to nurture and enforce. Here’s to letting go!

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