Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pragmatism and "The Sane Society" by Erich Fromm

I finished up the following transcription of Fromm's piece while listening to On Point. Their discussion of pragmatism, our current society and political climate, and the works of William James (!!!) was excellent and deserves attention from all! Their guest was the editor of the newly-released The Heart of William James, Professor Robert D. Richardson. I was first introduced to William James and Pragmatism as a freshman majoring in English. It's partly what led me to becoming a history major, and is one of very few "old college books" that I continuously keep at the ready, rather than in a box in the "Book Closet."

I have a Book Closet. I should explain that at some point.

The following is from Erich Fromm's The Sane Society. It's been on my mind lately, as well as some writings by Eric Hoffer and, now, William James.  Fromm was a celebrated German-born American psychoanalyst, social philosopher and author.

I realize that this is a lot to read, especially on a computer screen. I've taken the liberty of BOLDING some passages I found especially important or thought provoking. The italics are Fromm's own. This was first published in 1955, but barely shows its age. Let me know if you find any typos.

Why did I do this?
Because I believe that it's important.
This isn't the first time I've done this sort of thing.
 Erich Fromm

In building the new industrial machine, man became so absorbed in the new task that it became the paramount goal of his life. His energies, which once were devoted to the search for God and salvation, were now directed toward the domination of nature and ever-increasing material comfort. He ceased to use production as a means for a better life, but hypostatized it instead to an end in itself, an end to which life was subordinated. In the process of an ever-increasing division of labor, ever-increasing mechanization of work, and an ever-increasing size of social agglomerations, man himself became a part of the machine, rather than its master. He experienced himself as a commodity, as an investment; his aim became to be a success, that is, to sell himself as profitably as possible on the market. His value as a person lies in his salability, not in his human qualities of love, reason, or in his artistic capacities. Happiness becomes identical with consumption of newer and better commodities, the drinking in of music, screen plays, fun, sex, liquor and cigarettes. Not having a sense of self except the one which conformity with the majority can give, he is insecure, anxious, depending on approval. He is alienated from himself, worships the product of his own hands, the leaders of his own making, as if they were above him, rather than made by him. He is in a sense back where he was before the great human evolution began in the second millennium B.C.

He is incapable to live and to use his reason, to make decisions, in fact incapable to appreciate life and thus ready and even willing to destroy everything. The world is again fragmentalized, has lost its unity; he is again worshiping diversified things, with the only exception that now they are man-made, rather than part of nature.

The new era started with the individual initiative. Indeed, the discoverers of the new worlds and sea lanes in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the pioneers of science, and the founders of new philosophies, the stattesmen and philosophers of the great English, French and American revolutions, and eventually, the industrial pioneers, and even the robber barons showed marvelous individual initiative. But with the bureaucratization and managerialization of Capitalism, it is exactly the individual initiative that is disappearing.

Bureaucracy has little initiative, that is its nature; nor have automatons. The cry for individual initiative as an argument for Capitalism is at best a nostalgic yearning, and at worst a deceitful slogan used against those plans for reform which are based on the idea of truly human individual initiative. Modern society has started out with the vision of creating a culture which would fulfill man's needs; it has as its ideal the harmony between the individual and social needs, the end of the conflict between human nature and the social order. One believed one would arrive at this goal in two ways; by the increased productive technique which permitted feeding everybody satisfactorily, and by a rational, objective picture of man and of his real needs. Putting it differently, the aim of the efforts of modern man was to create a sane society. More specifically, this meant a society whose members have developed their reason to that point of objectivity which permits them to see themselves, others, nature, in their true reality, and not distorted by infantile omniscience or paranoid hate. It meant a society, whose members have developed to a point of independence where they know the difference between good and evil, where they make their own choices, where they have convictions rather than opinions, faith rather than superstitions or nebulous hopes. It meant a society whose members have developed the capacity to love their children, their neighbors, all men, themselves, all of nature; who can feel one with all, yet retain their sense of individuality and integrity; who transcend nature by creating, not destroying.

So far, we have failed. We have not bridged the gap between a minority which realized these goals and tried to live according to them, and the majority whose mentality is far back, in the Stone Age, in totemism, in idol worship, in feudalism. Will the majority be converted to sanity - or will it use the greatest discoveries of human reason for its own purposes of unreason and insanity? Will we be able to create a vision of the good, sane life, which will stir the life forces of those afraid of marching forward? This time, mankind is at one crossroad where the wrong step could be the last step.

In the middle of the twentieth century, two great social colossi have developed which, being afraid of each other, seek security in ever-increasing military rearmament. The United States and her allies are wealthier; their standard of living is higher, their interest in comfort and pleasure is greater than that of their rivals, the Soviet Union and her satellites, and China. Both rivals claim that their system promises final salvation for man, guarantees the paradise of the future. Both claim that the opponent represents the exact opposite to himself, and that his system must be eradicated - in the short or long run - if mankind is to be saved. Both rivals speak in terms of nineteenth-century ideals. The West in the name of the ideas of the French Revolution, of liberty, reason, individualism. The East in the name of the socialist ideas of solidarity, equality. They both succeed in capturing the imagination and the fanatical allegiance of hundreds of millions of people.
. . .
But without ignoring the tremendous differences between free Capitalism and the authoritarian Communism today, it is shortsighted not to see the similarities, especially as they will develop in the future. Both systems are based on industrialization, their goal is ever-increasing economic efficiency and wealth. They are societies run by a managerial class, and by professional politicians. They both are thoroughly materialistic in their outlook, regardless of Christian ideology in the West and secular messianism in the East. They organize man in a centralized system, in large factories, political mass parties. Everybody is a cog in the machine, and has to function smoothly. In the West, this is achieved by a method of psychological conditioning, mass suggestion, monetary rewards. In the East by all this, plus the use of terror. It is to be assumed that the more the Soviet system develops economically, the less severely will it have to exploit the majority of the population, hence the more can terror be replaced by methods of psychological manipulation. The West develops rapidly in the direction of Huxley's Brave New World, the East is today Orwell's "1984." But both systems tend to converge.
 . . .
In the development of both Capitalism and Communism we can visualize them in the next fifty or a hundred years, the process of automatization and alienation will proceed. Both systems are developing into managerial societies, their inhabitants well fed, well clad, having their wishes satisfied, and not having wishes which cannot be satisfied; automatons, who follow without force, who are guided without leaders, who make machines which act like men and produce men who act like machines; men, whose reason deteriorates while their intelligence rises, thus creating the dangerous situation of equipping man with the greatest material power without the wisdom to use it.

The alienation and automatization leads to an ever-increasing insanity. Life has no meaning, there is no joy, no faith, no reality. Everybody is "happy" - except that he does not feel, does not reason, does not love.

In the nineteenth century the problem was that God is dead; in the twentieth century the problem is that man is dead. In the nineteenth century inhumanity meant cruelty; in the twentieth century it means schizoid self-alienation. The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that men may become robots. True enough, robots do not rebel. But given man's nature, robots cannot live and remain sane, they become "Golems," they will destroy their world and themselves because they cannot stand any longer the boredom of a meaningless life.

Our dangers are war and robotism. What is the alternative? To get out of the rut in which we are moving, and to take the next step in the birth and self-realization of humanity. The first condition is the abolishment of the war threat hanging over all of us now and paralyzing faith and initiative. We must take the responsibility for the life of all men, and develop on an international scale what all great countries have developed internally, a relative sharing of wealth and a new and more just division of economic resources. This must lead eventually to forms of international economic cooperation and planning, to forms of world government and to complete disarmament. We must retain the industrial method. But we must decentralize work and state so as to give it human proportions, and permit centralization only to an optimal point which is necessary because of the requirements of industry. In the economic sphere we need co-management of all who work in an enterprise, to permit their active and responsible participation. The new forms for such participation can be found. In the political sphere, return to the town meetings, by creating thousands of small face-to-face groups, which are well informed, which discuss and whose decisions are integrated in a new "lower house." A cultural renaissance must combine work education for the young, adult education and a new system of popular art and secular ritual throughout the whole nation.

Our only alternative to the danger of robotism is humanistic communitarianism. The problem is not primarily the legal problem of property ownership, nor that of sharing profits; it is that of sharing work, sharing experience. Changes in ownership must be made to the extent to which they are necessary to create a community of work, and to prevent the profit motive from directing production into socially harmful directions. Income must be equalized to the extent of giving everybody the material basis for a dignified life, and thus preventing the economic differences from creating a fundamentally different experience of life for various social classes. Man must be restored to his supreme place in society, never being a means, never a thing to be used by others or by himself. Man's use by man must end, and the economy must become the servant for the development of man. Capital must serve labor, things must serve life. Instead of the exploitative and hoarding orientation, dominant in the nineteenth century, and the receptive and marketing orientation dominant today, the productive orientation must be the end which all social arrangements serve.

No change must be brought about by force, it must be a simultaneous one in the economic, political and cultural spheres. Changes restricted to one sphere are destructive of every change. Just as primitive man was helpless before natural forces, modern man is helpless before the social and economic forces created by himself. He worships the works of his own hands, bowing to the new idols, yet swearing by the name of the God who commanded him to destroy all idols. Man can protect himself from the consequences of his own madness only by creating a sane society which conforms with the needs of man, needs which are rooted in the very conditions of his existence. A society in which man relates to man lovingly, in which he is rooted in bonds of brotherliness and solidarity, rather than in the ties of blood and soil; a society which gives him the possibility of transcending nature by creating rather than by destroying, in which everyone gains a sense of self by experiencing himself as the subject of his powers rather than by conformity, in which a system of orientation and devotion exists without man's needing to distort reality and to worship idols.

Building such a society means taking the next step; it means the end of "humanoid" history, the phase in which man had not become fully human. It does not mean the "end of days," the "completion,", the state of perfect harmony in which no conflicts or problems confront men. On the contrary, it is man's fate that his existence is beset by contradictions, which he has to solve without ever solving them.When he has overcome the primitive state of human sacrifice, be it in the ritualistic form of the Aztecs or in the secular form of war, when he has been able to regulate his relationship with nature reasonably instead of blindly, when things have truly become his servants rather than his idols, he will be confronted with the truly human conflicts and problems; he will have to be adventuresome, courageous, imaginative, capable of suffering and of joy, but his powers will be in the service of life, and not in the service of death. The new phase of human history, if it comes to pass, will be a new beginning, not an end.

Man today is confronted with the most fundamental choice; not that between Capitalism or Communism, but that between robotism (of both the capitalist and the communist variety), or Humanistic Communitarian Socialism. Most facts seem to indicate that he is choosing robotism, and that means, in the long run, insanity and destruction. But all those facts are not strong enough to destroy faith in man's reason, good will and sanity. As long as we can think of other alternatives, we are not lost; as long as we can consult together and plan together, we can hope. But, indeed, the shadows are lengthening; the voices of insanity are becoming louder. We are in reach of achieving a state of humanity which corresponds to the vision of our great teachers; yet we are in danger of the destruction of all civilization, or of robotization. A small tribe was told thousands of years ago: "I put before you life and death, blessing and curse - and you chose life." This is our choice too.

Transcribed by me, from Fawcett's thirteenth printing (May 1965) 
of Erich Fromm's The Sane Society. Specifically, these passages 
are from Fromm's Summary, pages 309 - 315. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Making Stuff, Selling Stuff, Burning Stuff

I've had blogs all over the web, mostly abandoned 
and buried by now. Some things, however, will never
disappear into the Google chasm....
This week, I've been focusing on a different form
of my internet identity. 
(Is that statement as pompous as it sounds?!)
Etsy. Etsy. Etsy.

Etsy and I go way back.
I think I first found it when I was looking for 
Artist Trading Cards... or maybe it was the jewelry.
Or the vintage clothes and home decor?

My-Sister-the-Artist and I could happily spend hours
trolling through the treasures to be found on Etsy.

(the aforementioned sister) 
has a respectable
amount of Etsy selling experience.
I'm more of an Ebay seller, myself.
Yesterday, I jumped ship.

There's nothing there, yet.
I'm taking this next month to work on
my "products" before "rolling out my line"
(Bwahahahah business speak is silly!)
in early January - just in time for 
Valentines Day!

Lansing was walloped with about 
8 inches of heavy, wet snow over 
a sheet of frozen rain.

 Our back yard - the bough is touching the ground, burdened.

Even with sidewalks, shoveling here is nowhere near as bad
as it was growing up, with that extra-long driveway!

Good thing I moved more than a few armloads of 
firewood into the garage, the previous morning!
I've quickly become the house's expert fire builder.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Morning with TJ

Allow me to introduce you to
The Amazing Atheist.
TJ Kincaid.

You might think he's just another privileged middle-class white guy
with the inability to keep his controversial opinions to himself.
I think you're wrong.

I don't mind listening to this guy holler every once in a while.
He's usually saying the same things I'm thinking.
Sometimes he's a few steps ahead of me.

This is all that I have for you today, I'm afraid.
I think it's enough.
This week I'm focusing on making things out of paper, not the interwebz.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

John K. King's Used and Rare Books of Detroit

So, I finally went to King's.
It was inevitable.

Here's a peek into our trip into Detroit's
What began as a 4-story glove factory
is now a sprawling maze of books and other
paper items concerning every topic you could 
possibly imagine, and then some.
King's downtown location is Michigan's largest
book shop. I wonder where it ranks on an international scale...

I was overwhelmed, but also underwhelmed by what I found.
I'm not sure what I expected, so I cannot say what it lacked.
Nonetheless, this place is absolutely AMAZING. 
King's was established in 1965, just three years before Curious opened.
I've only been to a handful of shops like Curious and King's.
These places are usually dusty, disorderly and rather whimsical.
They're full of treasures lost and found, as well as a lot of rubbish.
Stores like these are increasingly rare - much rarer than the items they offer.
Finding a place like this can make you feel as though you've 
entered a rift in time, or someone's junk shop. 
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


 Did I mention how HUGE this old factory is?
I wish I could properly describe it, as well as where
it sits within Detroit. It's practically invisible, if you don't know 
to look for King's. In the muted landscape that is downtown,
the bookstore's faded facade easily blends into the 
downtrodden haze of Detroit's cityscape.
There were signs in the stairwell to help direct cold winter customers to
one of the few "warming stations" available. The cost of heating this entire building would be
astronomical, and you can rule out space heaters in a four-story pile of paper and dust!

I wandered further and further into the building with eyes wide and camera ready. 
I refused to look at the books themselves, trying to take in the forest rather than the trees. 
It's too bad that I hadn't brought a list of books to look for, 
as this wasn't the sort of place to just start browsing. 
I was too anxious, flitting from one little "room" to the next, 
weaving between the cases and boxes and trying not to focus on the spines.

King's is doing about as well, economically, as the other remaining stores of its ilk. 
Can you imagine how many people it takes to run a sinking ship? 
I admired the bookkeeper aprons worn by the roaming staff members, 
with bulging pockets and what looked like permanent dust stains down the fronts. 
One long-time clerk with whom I spoke for quite some time seemed a bit jaded. 
For once I was grateful for the limited space that is my little Curious Book Shop.


Planks and cinder blocks - sometimes you can't wait
for just the right bookcase, even if you're a bookseller
who is offered dozens of bookshelves every year!

King's was astonishing, wonderful, terrifying and utterly unique. 
I can't believe it had taken me so long to get there! 
The Husband couldn't believe that I only bought 2 books, for a grand total of $10.
Next time, we're going back with lists of books to look for, as well as flashlights...

Basic Banana Bread

One night a few months ago, the Husband came home with a sack full of bananas. 
Bunches and bunches of bananas. 
15 pounds of over-ripe, discarded bananas 
that he "got for a steal" ($2) at Quality Dairy after they had ordered far too many.

Bananas. What can you do with 15 pounds of bananas!?

Well, we made dozens of banana muffins, 
a few loaves of banana bread 
and a sack full of dried banana chips.

Flash forward to yesterday, 
when we got back home from the cabin 
to be greeted by three over-ripe bananas hanging in our fruit basket. 
Their skins were so thin and brown that I figured the bananas 
would practically mush themselves! 

Just right for a nice loaf of banana bread to see us through until Thanksgiving.

This tasty, healthy bread is a snap to make and tastes 
simply divine when you toast a slice and spread on some peanut butter.

Baking time: 60 minutes at 350°
Recipe makes 1 loaf

1. Chop the butter into a few smaller pieces and cream it in an electric mixer. 
 Beat in both eggs and the banana mush. Set aside.
2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. 
3. Stir the wet banana mix into the dry mixture, only until just combined. 
Stir in the vanilla, nuts, cinnamon, etc. Don't over-mix it! It should be a bit lumpy.
4. Plop the batter into a greased bread baking pan.
I swear by my trusty Pyrex. The easiest way to grease a pan
is to use the wrapper from that stick of butter! I also recommend
sprinkling flour into the pan, to help the loaf come out cleanly.
Let it cool fully, then run a butter knife between the bread & pan to loosen it.

"Life Lessons in Simplicity, Service and Common Sense""

A great debate has been raging in recent years about how to
improve our schools. I believe all good schools must recognize that the
moral growth of students is at least as important as their intellectual growth.

That's what some educators mean when they say that the only
proper education is amoral education - which is
not to be confused with a sectarian education.

The goal of Quaker teachers is to imbue students with the desire
to let their lives speak when they graduate and enter the adult world.
Non-Quaker educators express the same view somewhat differently
when they proudly describe a former student as a productive and
useful member of society, an exemplary parent, a warm and responsive
human being, an altruist. We can't simply focus on turning out
academically well-prepared graduates who will be accepted at the
colleges of their choice or enter the workforce with
excellent prospects for advancement.

Formal education is only a jumping-off point for a lifetime of learning and doing,
and what concerns good schools and good teachers is how
students apply the learning they acquire to living their lives.

From Robert Lawrence Smith's A Quaker Book of Wisdom (1998)

Smith's book has been floating around the house for the past few months,
and every time I pick it up I find little golden gems of truth and sensibility that
I find even more special and inspiring as the year winds down to a close.

Right before we left for the cabin (literally, while the guys were packing the truck)
I decided to dismantle the living room in preparation for the holidays.
I had tricked it out thoroughly with little gourds and pretty goldenrod
and other harvest-ish things. When we got home from the cabin, I came to
the sudden and horrifying discovery that we have pretty much zero
holiday decorations. We used to have loads... but I just can't find them.
So, we're back to a bare walls and a sad-looking mantle for the interim.

Our trip Up North was fun! The goal was to come home with a few
deer to eat for the next 12 months. Three experienced hunters, in blinds,
with bait apples and de-scenting spray... and the most exciting thing spotted
was a lone turkey. Just two days before on the same land some friends bagged
two does and a buck, so we know they're out there. Somewhere.

We hit up Shorts Brewery, in Mancelona, on Friday night. SO COOL!
I loved their sample paddles. For about $8 you can choose 5 beers
from their list of 20 or so. The Bourbon Wizard is not my friend,
but their grape juice based "Da Vine" was delicious!

We're headed back up right after Turkey Day lunch in Williamston
for Bag Some Deer, Round Two! We're also on the look-out for
Christmas trees and decorations, as well as some cheap land
on which to build our dream compound.

Here are just a few photos from when Sean and I went to
Elk Rapids on Saturday.

(If anyone can make these last two crazy shots into
an epic .gif, PLEASE DO SO. Then, send it to me. Please.)

EDIT - Blahhh! The centering/spacing is all off. I don't feel like fixing it again.
Sorry if it loads for you like it did for me.
Hopefully, your browser is better/smarter/faster/stronger.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

And I disappeared into the Groove...

I wish YouTube had a "repeat" feature,
so I could set it and forget it.

One of my favorite songs,
covered by one of my favorite musicians:

The song: Home
The original artist: Marc Broussard
The cover artist: Mysti Mayhem

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Giving up on NaNoWriMo 2011

It's been one week,
and I'm officially throwing in the
NaNoWriMo towel of defeat.

Each November, this writing craziness
affects people in different ways. Some,
obviously, end up writing the first draft
of a new novel that they can then stuff
into a drawer, or possibly edit. Some
struggle for weeks, trying to meet the
daily requirement of about 1700 words.
Some have no trouble, breeze through
their first novel and end up writing a
second one "just for fun". And some,
like me, realize that they have
and so they give up and get back to all
of the tasks they'd been avoiding while writing.

I'm back.
Classicon 40, the book shop's big pulp and comics
show, is this weekend. There's enough on my plate,
and I don't feel too remorseful in giving up.
Maybe next year...

My story was a pleasure to work on!
Post-industrial America, specifically the northern
bits of the Lower Penninsula. A bunch of survivalists
and their quirks, quandaries and qualms.
Good stuff.
I quit writing on the 3rd day, but I am up to 4595 words.
Back into the drawer you go!

The weather is crummy and cold,
but things are still blooming in our back yard.

Look at these pretty pea blossoms!

I love this colorful riot of Swiss Chard.
It's stalks become brighter after a frost or two,
and the leaves get even tastier!

These flowers were the first we planted last spring.
They're hardy little buggers!

full sized pick-up trucks in our little driveway.

I'm loving Christina Grimmie's cover of Stereo Hearts:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Photo Dump

I've decided to give NaNoWriMo a go,
so I may not continue to post as often as I have been.

I might as well try, though!

Here's what we've been up to, this week:

We hit up the East Lansing Farmers Market - the last of the season! We've only missed a handful of these Sunday markets since it began a few years ago.
We get most of our shopping for the week is done here,
and we've made some good friends along the way!

With the colder weather, most everything in the garden
has been frozen to death.
Last flowers of the season!

And, as requested, here is my awesome Halloween costume.

I realize that this post is mostly pictures, rather than words.
Normally I would apologize, but...
Whatever, it's NaNoWriMo!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Amazon Associates Debate, or Why You Should Go Outside

What's that, Blogger?
You've noticed that I talk about books, sometimes, eh?
Oh, and you signed a deal with Amazon, did you?
Oh, my. That's nice for you, I suppose.

What's that? You want ME to jump on board?
And if people click links in my blog and buy something, I get money?
Well, a little spare change would be nice, if that ever were to happen...
But I average 2 views a day, if that.
And... Amazon is a monster!

Amazon was great when it started.
Just some people and a warehouse, making books easier to obtain.
But geez, look at it now.

Now look at me.
I work in a small, independent book shop.
I'm friends with people who work in and own other small book shops.
If I were to refer my blog readers to a trustworthy book source, why should it be the online business that has wreaked havoc on independents around the world?
Well, I'm not going to.
Instead, here are some excellent independent Michigan bookstores that I proudly endorse!

Go outside, get in your car (or on the bike, bus, taxi, skateboard...)
and take yourself to a small, independent book shop.
They're out there.

Curious Book Shop (E. Lansing, Mi - 3 Floors of Used and Antiquarian Books & Stuff. This is where I spend most of my time and money.)
Archives Book Shop (E. Lansing, Mi - A little Used and Antiquarian Book Shop full of treasures.)
Everybody Reads (Lansing, Mi - A great, eclectic book shop for everyone!)
Off the Beaten Path (Farmington, Mi - A STEAMPUNK Book Shop!)
King's (Detroit, Mi - Supposedly the MECCA for book loving bargain hunters, but I've never been...)
Horizon Books (Traverse City, MI - A beautiful, traditional book store with plenty to offer.)
Singapore Bank Bookstore (Saugatuk, Mi - This tiny, easy to miss book shop at the top of the old Bank building is cosy, well-stocked and not to be missed!)

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Since 2006, the month of November has brought
a bouquet of crazy into my life.

The weather goes from pleasantly chilly to
downright frigid, with those November winds.

The public transportation system goes to shit
(I'm looking at you, CATA!)
with hundreds of new riders, forsaking their bikes for the
"comforts" of dirty seats and sick strangers.

I usually come down with some plague-like illness.

Thanksgiving approaches, and with it comes stuffing.
How can I lose weight during the

The holiday count-down begins.
I like to make gifts, rather than buy them.
This is, however, incredibly hard to do without some
serious time budgeting, since the month
of November also brings...


That's right, folks.
The month of November is your chance to join us,
the crazies, and write a 50,000 word novel.
It begins at midnight, on Halloween.
Wear a costume if you'd like.

My first WriMo experience was in 2006.
Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I thought that
this nifty writing project sounded like a lot of fun.
Nevermind the essays waiting to be written for class.
Nevermind my part-time library gig.
I had time for the NaNo, right?
After all, I am an aspiring author!

I quit about 2 weeks in.

The same thing happened in 2007, 2008, and 2010.
(I skipped 2009, citing a honeymoon hangover.)

2010 started off great, for me.
I was finally out of college and I could attend weekly write-ins.
At one of those write-ins I lost about 6,000
of my 15,000ish words when my little Eee crashed.
I quit, then and there.

I'm a perpetual LOSER when it comes to NaNoWriMo,
and yet I'm going to give it another shot.
Why keep trying, and failing?
Because I love to do it!
Not the failing part, but the writing part.
I always have between 3 and 3948257 story ideas in my head.
This year I'm ahead of the game (compared to normal).
Instead of just a vague story idea, I have a real plan!
You see, there's this girl... there's this apocalypse.... and some books.
And it takes place in Michigan - I think.

Alright, so I don't actually have a well-thought-out plan, but I don't care.
By writing this blog post, I have officially talked myself into doing the WriMo again!
Sean will be thrilled, I'm sure.

I'm pretty well set up for the WriMo.
My EeePC is long gone, due to a terrible wine accident.
The lack of a laptop is a huge set-back,
but I think I can borrow one from my friend with too many computers.
What I wouldn't give for one of those fancy iPads with the keyboard case...

I have a writing space all set up, though it's a bit dusty.
I live just a few blocks away from Gone Wired, my ideal write-in location.
And I work just a few blocks away from Wanderer's Tea House, the back-up location.
I have coffee, I have books, I have paper and pens.
I have a story, kind-of.
I'm already doing better than I have in previous years!

I watched Kristina Horner's video about
NaNoWriMo a short while ago, and am feeling slightly more inspired.
I have a stack of books in front of me, all about writing and maintaining sanity.

Let's do this!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Soaking up the last warm days of summer in Lansing

A little photo-journal entry of our weekend:

Sean made this awesome tree sculpture last winter.
It's made of left-over chicken wire bits, and a bit of unexpected nature.

The lovely blue flowers I nearly killed (4 times)
are the prettiest thing in our garden!

Then, we biked from our house to the fish ladder in Old Town!

The River Trail was busier than expected, as was the fish ladder.
I saw a few father/son duos fishing in the Grand,
a lone woman happily kayaking,
lenty of locals soaking up the sun at the
Lansing City Market's Waterfront Bar & Grille.

I had never been, and it was WAY larger and more interesting than I expected.
Maybe next year we'll get there while the fish are still hopping.

A view from the observation deck ... and Sean's new crosstrail!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

An Update, Illustrated.

I heard, from a reputable source, that one can have a website hosted for about $10 a year. Seriously?! Well, for Christmas I think Sean and I might launch our own urban homesteader website, and we shall call ourselves the RADISH RELISHERS!


But what will we do with the website? What's the point?
To get off of Facebook, hopefully!
I'd rather have all of our videos, blog posts, photos and more on one overarching website.
Plus, maybe we'll become rich and famous (but not alter our current happiness, of course).
I can dream, right?

Things that have happened:
- The Husband and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary at the start of this week. Two years, already!? We try not to talk to our friends about our marriage very often, as we feel like we're bragging, or that we should knock on wood afterwards. It's pretty awesome, though.
Flowers from our urban farm community garden.
He grew them for me! (And I helped, I suppose.)

- The Husband went and got his bike stolen. There's no other appropriate way to word this. He failed to lock it up at the ol' fraternity when he ran in to check the mail. He returned to an empty spot on the bike rack. Fortunately, our insurance company made claiming it a breeze (we had it covered under our renters' insurance). His new bike should be ready on Friday!

- The Roommate, who subleases a room in our rental here in Lansing, was kind enough to set up his fancy-pants stereo in our living room - which prompted us to decorate the room, at last! We have stuff on the walls, now. I may make giant pillows for the couch/floor this afternoon.

- APPLES. We've been appl'ing. Two weeks ago, we bought about 200lbs / 4 bushels of apples from Clam Lake Farm, up near Bellaire and Mancelona. Five of us picked apples for an hour. Their orchard is made up of "ultra dwarf" apple trees, so the fruit was at about shoulder height, or lower. It was so much fun! No photos, unfortunately.

- TODAY is the day of The Husband's BIG INTERVIEW for the job he's been working towards for the last two years. He'll do great. :)

- We had a Moth Invasion in our kitchen. Yes, this is totally something we'd post on our website. ( ?). It was awful, but The Husband took care of it. Now, we have lots of beautiful airtight containers in our kitchen. It was an excellent impetus, since we hadn't finished organizing our cabinets and things had ... well, deteriorated. We're in good shape, now!

Very utilitarian dry storage, and look at all those canned apples!

Compost and Landfill. Without really trying, we've
gotten our "landfill" waste down to about a Kroger bag a week, sometimes two.
How? Thanks to our Recycling Bench! that The Husband constructed.

It's a bit full, since we're nearing recycling day.
So functional! We can fit 2 bins at the bottom, if needed.

Top of the Bench, plus 2 dozen muffins and some Huckcherry Jam,
so hip you've only read about it.

Some herbs from the urban farm, Poppin' Fresh.
Also, my first braid of onions!

Paper flower bouquet made from a biography about Henry Clay,
and some music boxes, for good measure.

The entry area, Derf, and a big ol' stack of mail.

The very fancy spot.
How d'ya like that camera flash?

Living room - and the stereo!

The other (better?) side of the living room.

Alright, I think I'll end it here, for today.