Friday, June 29, 2012

{ this moment }

Joining Soulemama for this weekly ritual. One Photograph from the week, a moment I wish to pause, savor, and remember.

Fiona Rosie

Oh my goodness, this sweet little baby girl of ours. She is just growing up way too fast. All of a sudden too. One day she is laying around the house and now she is all movement and talking and giggles. She loves to pick out her own clothes and demands a bath after dinner every night. She is very found of the old 1970's Fisher-Price "Little People" that we have had for about a million years, and she loves any book with a picture of a cat in it.
When you are not paying attention to her, she will run her silly run over to the sofa, climb up and do "down dog" and say "us-side don". She has also developed a fierce love for an old baby doll that use to belong to Audrey. She calls her "bee" (which I actually think she is trying to say 'baby' but can't seem to get the whole word out) and pushes her around in a baby stroller we picked up at a yard sale for a dollar. She is just so sweet with this doll. She points to Bee's feet and says "Bee feets" it makes me want to laugh and cry. Soon all her funny little ways of saying things will disappear, her wild swinging arm when she runs will stop... but for now, man, I am going to wallow in it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yarn Along

lovely yarn and amazing book
I haven't done the yarn along in so long. I haven't really felt much like knitting. I found out recently that my sister in law is expecting a baby in November and well I couldn't pass up knitting a wee little bit of something. I am working on the sweater vest design I used for the vests I made for Fiona, only way smaller. I picked up this lovely yarn at a local yarn and fiber store. Wow, I honestly LOVE working wit this stuff. Usually I work with just wool, but this stuff... man oh man. I may never go back to plain old wool again. It is Panda Silk DK (bamboo, wool and silk blend) in Jade tones. It is so soft and just amazing to work with. I have a couple more skeins of it in other colors, so I might do some booties and maybe a hat. I do have some ideas about a baby blanket as well.
I am reading (for the 4th time) "No Impact Man" by Colin Beavan. This book just fires me up. Every time I read it I get so inspired to make changes. I am having the family read it as well. It seems sometimes that if it is just me doing something it peters out because it is so overwhelming to do "all of it" alone. But if the whole gang is on board, well heck, we can do anything! I have also been reading his old blog posts that came before the book, the blog he wrote while doing the project. Which is really interesting to read as well.
Interested in what others are knitting and reading? Check out Ginny's blog!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Step One: Trash

On Saturday I went on this great website and entered my info to stop getting junk mail! There is another website called "Green Dimes" which sounds interesting, but I am going to have to look into that a bit closer and see if it is worth the $36 fee. I am hoping that it will not only stop the catalogs, credit card offers, and other needless junk mail, but also those blasted grocery store fliers!

Another part of step one is composting. We composted while we lived in Tucson and for awhile in Maine, but not since we have been back to Arizona. While I was messing around on-line to see if Phoenix had any places to drop off compostable stuff I found that Phoenix actually has compost bins made from only city trash cans (you know the big green ones) for $5.00! You just pick them up at the public works. There is even a link to composting in the desert (which is a bit different then in more moist climates). And just general composting hints.
Then there is also worm composting, which we tried in Tucson and failed miserably at. I am willing to give it another go. I think maybe the kids would enjoy it as well, ok maybe the littler ones will enjoy it. Here is a good link on how to get started.
Although all the composting, junk mail reducing measures are great... the real change needs to come from us making less waste in general. And let's be honest, what really needs to happen is the reduction in throw away goods, even the recycling kind. At this time we fill to the top every week a large city recycling can. ( I have no idea how many gallons those cans are, but they are big), plus we toss out 26-39 gallons of other stuff that can not be recycled (lots of food waste). We have a lot of room for improvement. Which is actually not as overwhelming as it seems. It just takes us being more aware of what we buy, how we use it and what we truly want.
How much of the stuff that sits in our trash can was something we used for 10 minutes or less? I am going to venture to guess most of it. Which is sad, but not hopeless. The first step is our awareness of the issue, and then to take those steps to change how we do things. Getting our produce in these muslin bags is one way. Also using cloth napkins, washable dish rags, towels for spills, reusable containers instead of foil or plastic wrap, using reusable water bottles, coffee cups and sandwich bags. Also storing food in plain old large, glass mason jars works very well and cuts down on plastic use.
Remembering that there is only so much we can take from the Earth and remembering to be respectful of what we do use, is always a good lesson (at least I think so).
One of my favorite reminders is the movie "The Story of Stuff". We can't continue in this linear way of using resources.
So there is Step One.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Holy smokes

Like I said in my last post, I am reading "No Impact Man's" old blog posts. This one, just knocked me out. I want to shout... YES, YES, YES!!!
I feel this often, this loneliness and I do fill it will things like being on the computer or shopping. BUT, what I am truly needing is people, a community. Thankfully, I am part of a great homeschooling community here in Arizona. Giving up things and replacing them with time for people, time to connect; well, that doesn't seem like a bad trade off. Maybe what environmentalism needs to focus on is a re-connection with each other, so we feel that need to change because we know we are all in it together, all of us. It is easy, in a way, to buy your way out of feeling crappy and lonely. Hell, you don't even have to leave the house. Just hop on the computer and spend. What is challenging is to open yourself up, put yourself out there, be vulnerable, connect with other people... living, breathing people. Not on the internet, but face to face.
In Buddhism there is this idea: the hungry ghost. I read about it years ago in the book "Buddhism: Plain and Simple". The author takes out all the dogma and just leaves you with the bare bones of what the Buddha was getting at. The hungry ghost, there for, isn't an actual ghost but that feeling of constant craving. Never being satisfied with what you have, always, always wanting more. Always hungry. The need, the desire for more and more stuff that so many of us have (myself included), is keeping us from experiencing life. There is always more stuff to have, if we can not find happiness in what we currently have, if can not connect with actual live people, if we can not help each other out... well, what hope is there? Stuff will not fill us up, no amount of shopping will fill up what is missing in our lives.
That is why, for me, trying out the "No Impact" experiment might just be the balm I need.
Here is an example (how I see it maybe working), when you want to go someplace you hop in your car and drive there, alone. Completely isolated from the world. BUT, if to get someplace you have to take a bus, or use the light rail, or ride a bike, you are out there. People are around you, you might even chat with the person in the next seat. OR you will feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your skin, hear the birds, you will be a bit more present. It is hard to see what is going on in the world when you are flying through it at 60 miles an hour.
OR you are at the farmer's market. You know what is in season because that is what they have. You can talk to a real live person who grew the carrots, okra, lettuce, etc. You can connect with them. There is no real connection at the grocery store, even a fancy organic one like "Whole Foods". They didn't grow the food, they didn't raise the hens, they didn't care for the cows. But you can get that at the farmer's market. That connection. You can talk to the rancher, discuss the joys of hens with the farmer, ask advice about the eggplants. There is a smile, a voice, a touch. This is the connect I think we are missing.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cleaning "house" otherwise known as downsizing

Today I permanently deleted my Facebook account, and downsized the blogs I read list, deleted 2 blogs I have worked on and might even delete another one as well. As I was going about deleting I actually started crying. It was relief I think. I have been finding myself overwhelmed with my internet "life", feeling uninspired, sad, and lacking. Lacking? Yes, lacking realness, connection of the face to face kind. Facebook is just not the same as real people, and blogs can be inspiring as well as making you feel a bit like crap.
This last week I have limited my computer time and I have been reading, trying to knit something (although honestly I keep having to frog the darn thing), and trying to get out every day with the kids, get out into the real world and see real people and just... you know, connect. It has felt wonderful.
I will also be downsizing in the real world as well. We are boxing up and storing toys, clothing, games, and books. We are going to see how it is to live with less. And maybe this fall we will have a yard sale and let all those goodies go, move on to the next home where someone can love on them.
I finished reading "No Impact Man" for the second time. It is such an inspiring book to me. A small family going "off the grid" so to speak in New York City. I have to say the book is about 100 times better then the movie/documentary. Colin is so insightful and honest, and well I got Mike to start reading it and Sis and Logan are also going to read it this summer (I picked up another copy of the book at the library... I am serious about this!) There could be some serious downsizing going on at the Hawkes nest.
Which is another thing I will be doing, depending on the reaction of the other readers of the book, this blog maybe be taking a bit of a turn from documenting just daily life stuff to following this BIG family decrease its sizable carbon foot-print. At this time, doing what we do, our foot print is over 4 planets. Lots of room for improvement. If you want to check your own footprint this site is pretty good: My footprint . I have this other great book "The Low Carbon-Diet" which is full of great ways to decrease your carbon footprint in as little as 30 days.
I have been on the "No Impact Man" blog reading some older posts. Which is both inspiring and insightful. It is interesting to read the comment section, people really get angry when someone steps out of the "mainstream" way of life and thinking and just forges ahead trying something new, new to them or new to everyone. Yes, he did go to extremes, but sometimes you have to do that. You have to push yourself to see what you can do. There is a great sort of "how to" list of things to try out no impact living for a week. We did it for a week while we lived in Maine, and I am thinking maybe we will give it another go here, but pushing it for longer than a week... maybe for months. We will see, I have a crew to get on board with it all.
on-line photo for earth day 2011

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


some trueness from on-line
My last post was a bit depressing, I think. I was in one of those spots, those sort of pitty party spots.
A friend on FB asked: are we suppose to be in a constant state of bliss? Are we suppose to love everyone? Is it "all good"? That really got me thinking today. Are we suppose to be happy all the time? I think it was a Buddhist saying: Even the happiest man on Earth isn't happy all the time. It really is a sort of Buddhist thought really. I mean if you cling to happiness you will never be truly happy because like all things it changes, and comes and goes. SO if you think you need to be happy every single minute then you are just going to suffer. BUT, I do think we all want to be happy. I think everyone just has different things that make them happy. For some it is money and things, for some it is people and community, for others in is nature and solitude, and it can be a combo of all of these things or completely different list of things. What works for you isn't necessarily going to work for me, and vise versa.

 Are we suppose to love everyone? Is that even possible or realistic? That is hard to say. I don't truly know of anyone that I hate. But then my life hasn't been rife with strife either. I don't know what it is like to have to forgive someone of a horrible act. I would think that it would help to forgive, maybe not love them, but then I don't know for sure. And it would be different for all people.

more truth

As for blissfulness, well you know, I guess that too all depends on you. It is pretty easy to be unhappy, and find nothing good in the world. It takes work and focus to find gratitude, bliss, and love in the world. But, I think it is worth it. We know for sure we have this one life, and to focus solely on the bad, ugly, hateful stuff can take away from this little bit of time that we have here. Life is so amazing. There is this fake Buddhist quote that works even if Buddha himself never actually said it: "When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky". I have spent too much time sitting in unhappiness, anger, resentment, depression, and anxiety to want to spend even another day feeling that crappy. I am not perfect, I have bad days (the other day was an example), but I try everyday to do better, to be better. To look around me and see how wonderful my life is, to experience the gratitude, and to take time to be blissful. Life is what it is, it is up to us to make something of it. YOU choose what is working, what to let go of, how to face each day, whether you will look through eyes of gratitude and love, whether you will follow your bliss. I am working on it every day, and I feel better for it; happier, more full of love, gratitude, peace and calm. (Again not every day, but most days.)
I think that my anxiety is actually a blessing, because my fear lies in my death, it is so important for me to be present and find happiness in each and everyday... as much as I can. Because I don't know when it will be my last day. So each and every day becomes a blessing. Each day is a day to express my gratitude, happiness, love and contentment.

so apparently this is a cross section of grass... see happiness

Monday, June 11, 2012

Being grateful and letting go

Some days there is just a lot of time for me to think about things. Especially on days where I get up early and tidy the house, and read a bit. I have been thinking that we have so much here. In this house... we have A LOT of stuff. Some days it seems like an endless amount of stuff. Stuff no one even really uses, but everyone can not fathom giving away. And there is constant need for more, from all of us. Right now Cae wants to download yet another Minecraft map (not even sure what that is really, BUT I do know he has downloaded about 10 already, and it is never enough.) There seems to be this strange urge from my family to need more and more things. Is it because we are a large family? Is it because we have to share a lot? Is it just the age of the kids? I don't know. It feels like there is a complete lack of gratitude for what we do have and this constant drive to acquire more and more things, just to have them not to actually use them. And if at any point I go through stuff no one really wants to part with anything, because maybe they might need it at some point in their lives... maybe. We have folders and folders full of pieces of paper with just a line drawn on them, note book after note book with maybe two pages written or drawn on, BUT no one wants to use already used notebook OR no one wants to share that unused note book with anyone else. Let's not forget the toys and board games that no one plays with, yet no one can part with.

Some days it feels like too much. When there are so many with so little and my family seems to be in a constant state of acquiring and not giving, well it can be just overwhelming. I am not sure how to encourage this desire to give and let go and be grateful for all we have. I try to model it, but that doesn't seem to be enough. Last fall I read this wonderful piece in the fall 2011 issue of "World Ark" magazine. It was so inspiring to me, I could see us making this happen, I could see us really working together as a family and doing something like that, we could be more then we are. We could do more then we do... BUT sadly when I brought it up there was this wave of panic that hit the whole crowd. Was I serious? Give away that much money? Give away our stuff? To who? Why? What about us??? I have to admit I was pretty crestfallen. I had really hoped my family would be all over that. Would be tripping over themselves to help others and see how much we have and see how grateful we can all be. But alas, no. Here we are mid-2012 and still nothing. I have found a few charities that I like and donate a small amount to every month, but really over all... not a single other person in my house has reached out. Which I have to say is upsetting. What I need to figure out is how to motivate them all to want to give, to be open to letting our excess go and being grateful for all of our blessings. I feel like I am missing some sort of step, some sort of way to get this across to them, that we have sooo much to be grateful for and we have enough to give to others who need it way more then we do. 

Earlier today Fiona was pulling books off the bookshelf in my bedroom. I noticed an old three ring binder I kept articles, opinion pieces, and blog posts that I had printed out/ripped out of magazines in. While I was thumbing through it I ran across an old piece called "Penniless and Blessed". When I read it a few years ago it really spoke to me, because 1.) we were really struggling with money (and honestly we still are) and 2.) because it was a good way to live even if you had extra cash. And after re-reading it, well it still speaks to me. We can make a smaller impact on the earth, we can do more free and local things, we can grow more of our own stuff, we can use less, buy less, and need less. We can choose to live in gratitude every single day and honor all life and all people by being more aware of what we do, how much we use and how much we truly need. That binder holds a lot of good thinking stuff for me, maybe I need to pull it out and give it a good once over.
I am sort of all over the place today, that happens when I have time to think during the day, when I am not doggy paddling through the day just trying to keep my head above water. But you know, it isn't a bad thing. It isn't bad to realize we could do better, that we can grow and change and practice gratitude more fully. Being in this moment, releasing stuff (both physical stuff and mental stuff as well), changing, growing and being full aware of what is happening here... those are all things to be grateful for, 100% grateful for.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday

The boys, Fiona and I went to the Tempe History museum for a fun filled Wednesday afternoon of sister city fun. Every Wednesday this summer the museum is free and full of interesting things to do and other cultures to learn about. And as a plus the museum itself is just fun. The boys loved playing on the motorcycle and in the "farm" area with all the other children. It was a bit crazy at times, one child was a "mad dog" and growled at everyone viciously and barked like crazy, the kids thought it was hilarious!

tempe's first firetruck

police motorcycle


making unicorns

more unicorns

the vegetable play area

motorcycle goofiness

look at her face! hilarious

 Thursday evening went went to the Desert Botanical Gardens flashlight walk. I have to say that was the quickest 2 hours ever! It could so easily be another hour or two longer, but I guess the people who work there want to get home at some point. It wasn't too hot even, maybe in the low 90's, which made it really a nice to be out and about. I wish I had a better camera to capture some of the amazing city lights we saw from up on the hill. All around the garden were docents who were just full of information about desert plants. I have to admit the two guys buy the agave table were so much fun to talk to. They even had a wee little bottle of tequila!

those wild desert plant

the amazing agave plant

oh no! a rattlesnake!

coloring snakes

 Friday we were up early-ish to hit the pool. I have to say, that this is probably the best dang public pool EVER! A nice shady place to sit and eat, a wonderful zero entry kid pool with all sorts of fountainy goodness and a nice deep pool for swimming and diving, along with water slides! The best part? It is NEVER crowded. Which is honestly shocking, the pool is so great, and hardly anyone is there. We he had a great time and only got a little bit sunburned. :)

chips pool side

swimming in the deep end

so much fun

eating cookies and chatting