I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
- infecting brains with permaculture
- convincing folks that you are not crazy
- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
- an hour or two of reading
- find the needle
- find the 26 hidden names

clickity-click-click

  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic

A discussion about simple living  RSS feed

 
James Freyr
pollinator
Posts: 517
Location: Middle Tennessee
58
books cat chicken food preservation cooking toxin-ectomy trees
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I’m hoping to start a discussion on simple living. I’m interested in knowing what my like-minded peers on permies consider simple living and if you are pursuing a simpler life, already live what you consider a simple life or if your idea of simple living is ever evolving. For me, I think it embodies a slower pace of life, living close to the land, gardening and farming, doing craftwork, spending time outdoors just being still and observing nature, and not participating in the rat race of corporate ladder climbing devoting your time to work in order to make money in order to buy things and stuff, “keeping up with the Joneses”. (yes I understand we all have bills and taxes to pay so we need to do some sort of “work” to fund our lives, just not the pursuit of material excesses.) I haven’t been someone else’s employee since 2004 and have managed to wing it and get by installing hardwood floors and setting tile. I’m a somewhat contrary person, and I find myself getting a little more stubborn as I grow older. Change for me seems to come at a snails pace, but I’m getting there. My wife and I used to go out a lot (show, dinner, concert), now we stay home all the time and really enjoy it. We may go out once or twice a year now, if we even do. We devote Sunday as a stay home day and do not leave the house, and that’s evolved into including most saturdays now too. We’ve purchased some land out in a very rural, sparsely populated farming community and are building a small one bedroom house on it, moving out there next year, away from the rapid growth, congestion, noise, concrete, people and pollution of Nashville. We’ll be downsizing, selling off some stuff we’ve accumulated over the years, moving into a much smaller home. We ditched cable/satellite tv last year, but we do have an antenna for broadcast tv. I spend more time reading now than ever before in my life, and it’s great. I do have a cell phone but I don’t own a smartphone, never have, it would just be another distraction for me.

So, good people of permies, what do you think simple living is?
 
Jarret Hynd
Posts: 109
Location: Sask, Canada - Zone 3b
13
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
James Freyr wrote:So, good people of permies, what do you think simple living is?


It's hard to get proper context of the word "simple" here, as it's sometimes used synonymously with "easy" or "traditional", but I think I get what you mean from the rest of your reply. 

As an example, with a car you'll need:
- a large repair eventually, probably needing an expensive mechanic for it.
- new tires every year or 2
- maintenance done on it, usually with many toxic substances like oils and coolants.
- gas for it
- insurance for it
- license to use it
- a large investment to buy one and to use it enough to justify that investment

With a bicycle:
- it has less moving parts so it won't need as much repair.
- the system is easier to understand so a person could more easily repair a bike issue themselves vs a car issue.
- it's powered on carbohydrates, or at worst a much smaller, more efficient engine.
- it doesn't always require a license (some places are strange)
- it's light and not moving as fast as a car, so there is much less wear on the tires
- $250 is what you need for a good one, but even big-box places have $100 bikes. Lots of old good bikes during garage sale time aswell.

That's not to say one is better than the other, as both have their uses, but that feels like a good example to highlight what Simple Living is trying to achieve. The more gadgets and the more complicated they are, the more maintenance and time($) required to keep them working - not to mention space to put them in when they aren't being used. 

James Freyr wrote:We’ve purchased some land out in a very rural, sparsely populated farming community and are building a small one bedroom house on it, moving out there next year, away from the rapid growth, congestion, noise, concrete, people and pollution of Nashville.

The rules/bilaws of city living have always been the part that bugged me the most. Out in the rural it feels more like freedom. I can only think of the song "Signs" when I have to travel there during the holidays haha.

---

I do not:
- use a microwave
- use a smartphone
- use a TV, for almost a decade now. But, replaced with internet sources that are informative instead of pure entertainment. I might spend an 1-2 hours a day watching a documentary or something. Definitely more reading now though.
- eat out. Maybe once a year if some friends invite me to something.
- eat any ready-made foods or junk foods. Just 2-3 condiments I might buy, but otherwise all 1 ingredient produce with spices. If I want some kind of desert, I know how to make pound cakes and some other basic sweets.
- use a washer and dryer very often.
- use wifi

Probably many other things I could add to this, especially plug-in accessories like electric toothbrushes and what not.

---

By not owning so many gadgets and things anymore, I am able to do more and learn more which increases my skill-set. Most times these skills let me use tools/information or build something that can be further used to save more time in a day. Time that I can use to be in nature or learn something new - or both!

This year the power outages have been getting worse, I assume because of the oil-fields sucking up the juice from our old grid. So my next plan is get some hand-powered kitchen tools and have a batch rocket made over the winter for those situations as they are likely to increase. Last week without notice I had no power for 8 hours starting at 8am - not fun. I don't want to be left without any way to prepare a meal the next time that happens.

This topic could be taken in a lot of different directions, which is why I look forward to reading others' replies. Essentially a Simple Life offers flexibility, security and longevity which...well, why wouldn't someone want those attributes?

James Freyr wrote:I find myself getting a little more stubborn as I grow older. Change for me seems to come at a snails pace, but I’m getting there.


I am fine with change as long as it can be proven to be a good thing overall. To complicate that requirement, a lot of changes are most of the time short-term solutions that are bad in the long-run, but not everyone sees the long-term effects so easily. Skepticism is good in this regard.
 
Mark Tudor
Posts: 116
Location: SoCal USA
13
bike cat dog tiny house trees
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've gone through what I would call "waves" of simplifying my life, either reducing clutter or changing behaviors. In the US there is a strong push to accumulate stuff as a sign of success, which it is-for those selling the stuff! Many hobbies tend to accumulate stuff, and I've seen each of my hobbies do that over the years and later I have a pile of stuff I no longer use. Technology also encourages buying the latest and greatest, even though it's not much better than what you already had. In the '90s I went through that phase with PC upgrades.

All the new stuff usually costs money, lots of it, which translates into our time as we earn that money. Then we are short on time, stressed about money, so we buy stuff to try and increase happiness or convenience and the cycle continues with encouragement from marketing at every angle. After college I combined working 3 jobs totaling maybe 80 hours a week with strict budgeting to pay off all my debts and save enough to buy my first house about 2 years after graduating, and have mostly stuck to a frugal way of thinking since. I think about 25% of my income goes towards mandatory pension and optional retirement savings right now, which sets my brain to a "I don't have a bunch of cash to spend" mode.

There's also the non-physical side of simplicity, not letting ourselves get pulled in too many directions at once and having a net result of no progress. Filtering out the unnecessary physical stuff helps reduce the distraction on the mental side, as well as tuning out all the "forced distraction" we can encounter day to day. It's the seemingly mindless babble circulated on Facebook, the irrelevant tabloid stories at the store checkout, or some TV/radio personality squawking about who or what I should be outraged about which I try to avoid.

It's amazing how much mental clutter I removed when I cancelled cable TV a couple years ago- no more commercials! Facebook is a non-starter for me anymore, I think I've checked it 2-3 times this calendar year and each time confirmed, I didn't miss anything. When I drive to work, the classical music station doesn't rain doom and gloom all over me, although I do listen to NPR now and then which can be helpful. The recent credit report hacking issue for example was good to know so I could freeze all 4 reports.

Internet access can be a double edged sword. There is some great information out there, but you have soooo much advertising and BS to dodge along the way- "You won't believe what happens next!" Having unlimited access for a fixed monthly price is a negative when it comes to distraction for me. I expect I will have a cell plan only for internet in the future living in the country, and knowing there is only so much data before the price goes up will help provide some blinders to keep me focused on valuable info and not mindless distraction.

I would suggest that finding as many things that aren't that important to you and learning to minimize their impact, frees you up to focus on the important things. For me it's avoiding advertising by reducing/eliminating TV consumption, not fixating on the "Us vs Them" hatred mindset that's currently all I hear on the radio, finding several simple recipes for cooking in bulk to have ready-to-reheat meals rather than eating junk (work in progress, cough cough) among other odds and ends.

I'm looking forward to finding some property to buy so I can focus my attention, time, and effort into making it a happy little home outside the hustle and bustle and distractions.
 
James Freyr
pollinator
Posts: 517
Location: Middle Tennessee
58
books cat chicken food preservation cooking toxin-ectomy trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jarret and Mark- Thanks for the replies, it's exactly what I'm hoping this thread brings. There really is no one way to define simple living, it can encompass a lot of different meanings. I think you're right about how the word simple is sometimes used synonymously with easy, and while it may mean that for some, I think more often than not it does not necessarily mean easy. Take Dick Proennecke for example. I think he lived a simple life, but man was his life in Alaska busy and full of daily labor. Not exactly easy.

I'm currently starting the reducing clutter part of simplifying. Wife and I are having a yard sale this fall and hopefully unload some stuff and convert it into cash for the new farm. I know some people who are wrapped up in the accumulation of stuff and fancy things to appear successful to their peers. It really seems silly to me, but the mainstream american culture is just that. I quit watching tv news last november, and it's really one of the better choices I've made in my life thus far.

Looking forward to reading more about what others consider simple living!!
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
Posts: 1058
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
8
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Simpler living is aroudn money and spending less. But really the expenses are fixed and "the system" ("they") make us slave of overburden us with unnecessary expenses. Our council rates are sky high and our area is rather poor. That means the system makes us feeding all those working for the city council that they write up new rules and regulations or micromanaging things. I need an insurance for market stalls which was not heard of some years ago. The car, the internet (I have a web shop), music lessons for the kids and then they participate in orchestras and you have to pay entry...Water, gas electricity all goes only up, so just to stay afloat I need a certain amount of money and there is no option to save one this. I use little gas or electricity but you have the connection fees. We should think about how to crash this system which makes us slaves. And no I haven't got the money to go off the grid!!
 
Wes Hunter
Posts: 393
Location: Missouri Ozarks
33
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I used to poo-poo people who would say things like "I don't have time for that" or "I'm too busy for that."  Perpetual business and an endless to-do list are (I would argue) major problems.  We (generally) act like it's just great to always be running from A to B to C.

Now I find myself saying things like "I don't have time for that" and "I'm too busy for that."  At first I resisted it.  Then I realized: I don't have time, because I'm spending it relaxing on the couch, reading a book.  I'm too busy, because I'm already planning on taking the kids to go swimming in the river.

I don't have time for a lot of stuff, not because my schedule is already filled with events and activities and functions and on and on, but because I make a point of filling it with pleasurable, unstressful, leisurely things.  In other words, I don't have time, not because of all of the things I'm busy doing, but because of all of the things I'm busy NOT doing.  I think that, in a nutshell, is my idea of simple living.
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 1521
164
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We were just talking about this tonight at church, and I must say the greatest benefit I have found from simplifying my life by retiring at age 42 (I am now 43 years old) is having time to do things. Before I had 1-1/2 days a week to do things because of work and church on Sunday (the latter being my choice I know), but now I have 6-1/2 days to do whatever I want. I have spent more time with my wife, more time with my kids, and still have managed to get by just as we had before. In fact income wise, I make the same amount of income as I did when I worked? I do no know how, it just works out that way.
 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
Posts: 1508
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
104
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For a couple years I was the 'caretaker' of a small cabin on a beach on a remote island, where you had to take a half day ferry (in good weather in the summer) to get to it. 

The deal was that another guy had the cabin in the summer and we shared the garden.  I set up a tent and tarp camp in the dunes beside a pond that was alive with the sound of frogs.  Pretty idyllic. 

I did not have running water, electricity, or even propane.   I had three kerosene lamps and made my own beeswax candles.  I did intricate bead work.  I did a lot of pencil and charcoal drawings.  I would carve.  I would sell art, candles, and beaded products near Christmas.  I had a wood stove and for the first year I gathered all my wood with a wheelbarrow and a hand saw.  I kept the barrow and got a chainsaw the next year; a gift from my dad.   It rained a lot there. I had a rain barrel that I could roll down to the beach and scrub with sand and salt water.  I would do this occasionally in a big rain storm, and bring the barrel back and fill it up on the same day. 

I had a garden which produced a huge amount of roots and greens, which I stored five gallon pails stuffed with moss in a big pit in a shaded spot in the dunes. The garden was raised beds mulched with kelp that I hauled in my wheelbarrow.  I made compost with alder leaves and kelp.   I had a crab trap, and a clam shovel.  I would roll the trap down the beach at low tide and then go for a hike, and then come back at the next low tide and check it out.  Pretty casual existence.  It doesn't take much work to grow potatoes.  Carrots beets and salad greens and steam greens like chard were as simple as tossing out seeds.  

I would work very occasionally building a deck or a fence, or something, and then I would buy extravagant things like a bag of avocados, or the rest of ingredients for a potluck feast.  I liked to indulge in ginger and lemons and limes and chili peppers occasionally.  I was famous for my salsa and guacamole, my curries and my lentil stew, but I tended to eat potatoes and kale, or crab salad, or borsht, or clam chowder.  I would invite people over and have home made quinoa tabouleh, and chickpea humous rich with tahinni, olive oil and home grown garlic, onions, cilantro, oregano and basil, with flat bread that was made on the stove top.  I also ate a lot of wild berries, and stinging nettles.  I had jars crammed with dried berries or wild tea ingredients, like clover, yarrow, and strawberry or raspberry leaf.   I had a hand cranked grain mill.  I rode a bicycle or walked or hitch hiked everywhere.  The ladder to go into the loft bedroom was actually stepping on the cupboard shelves, and then the counter, and then the windowsill, and then the window lintel, and up through a hole in the ceiling.  During the fall I worked the hardest.  I hiked around the forest camping with a bunch of like minded people, and gathered wild edible mushrooms that I would sell; but it wasn't really work since I absolutely loved every bit of it.   After mushroom season I would go in with a bunch of people and do a bulk food order, and we would buy large amounts of dry goods for the year.  I would get whole grains, nuts, chocolate, seeds, coconut, dates, raisins, honey, peanut butter, tahinni, and olive oil.  I was probably 80% vegan and probably 95 % organic, home grown, or wild.   I would sometimes trade labor or garden produce for a deer haunch or some eggs.  I lived on around $3000 a year.  This was the mid '90's.      

The other guy was staying at the cabin while I was away for a short trip to deal with my prosthetic leg in the city one winter.  He was concerned about burning my dry firewood from the woodshed, and was burning green or wet beach wood.  I had not cleaned the chimney before I left.  A chimney fire lit the cedar cabin up like a torch and it destroyed everything that I owned, except for my backpack, which I had with me, my bike which I'd lent out to someone, and a couple books also lent out.   I had taken a train north from Vancouver to Terrace, and went to the restaraunt I used to cook at to call my dad.  He told me about the cabin.  My friend had called him.   It was sad, but I had to accept it; what else can a guy do?   I surprised my dad by heading out to the islands a few days later.  I had to see it for myself.  The cast iron pans had folded in the heat, the glazed plates had fused together.  My bead collection (probably my most valuable possession)  was a melted fused blob of color and texture but completely worthless.  Scavengers had found my carving tool and machete blades, my axe and maul heads.  The chainsaw was interesting to look at, as a modern art piece.   Some folks got together to rent a cabin for me, but with no gear it felt pretty big and barren.     At this time my sister was really needing some help so after a month, I packed my bag.   I went back to the mainland, and spent time with her and her three kids. 

Life has not regained quite that level of simplicity at this stage, but I can envision myself having an existence which is nearly that simple again.  Right now, I have to pay for my land, and then get to building stuff so I'm busy working a lot, but I don't see any reason why my income cant be reduced and my leisure time increased to match that lifestyle again at some point in the relatively near future.    
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
Posts: 1058
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
8
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A simpler live can be pretty busy and you have always something to do: weeding, planting baking chopping wood...
 
Bring me the box labeled "thinking cap" ... and then read this tiny ad:
The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book by Mike Oehler - digital download
https://permies.com/wiki/23444/digital-market/digital-market/Earth-Sheltered-Solar-Greenhouse-Book
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!