Miscellany - On the Dump, Not Writing a Book, and the AIP Class

Sharon February 21st, 2009

This post seems to be mostly a melange of randomness ;-)- look for something better organized on Monday.

First of all, if it seems like I’m not posting quite so much lately, you are probably right.  While I was writing the three books, I don’t think I realized just how tiring and stressful it was to be working on one book while writing proposals or editing another.  And it is only in the last couple of weeks that I’ve suddenly realized that I’m tired - not just regular tired, but tired of writing and analysis, tired of organizing my ideas in my head or looking at life as a series of potential essays, tired of the computer.

The first few weeks after finishing Independence Days were just a madhouse of catching up on all the things I’d put off because I simply couldn’t think about them.  It took until nearly mid-February for things to really settle down, and right now, a slightly slower pace and less dense writing really suits me.  In fact, at the moment, I don’t really want to be writing anything but the blog - and that, perhaps a little less often.

It has been chronically hard for me to balance the question of how to both live my life and write about it.  I’m not sure what balance between agriculture and writing, home life and work life are going to emerge for me - and the economy may well take a hand in this, if Eric’s job isn’t secure.  But for the first time in a long time, the question is open to me - I loved writing my books, I loved having the chance to do them, but now, I feel like I finally have the chance not to be driven entirely by events, but by what I choose and what I want.  I doubt it will last - events may decide for me, but I’m trying to just relax and enjoy things.

 For now, I don’t want to write any books.  I want to plan my garden, play with my kids, read some novels, write a little, watch events and wait - I’m not sure I’m even yet at the point of wanting to plan for the future.  Instead, I just want to breathe a little.  So expect a little less content here, until I find my balance.

Second, have you been to your dump lately?  I know not everyone has one, and I’ve been grouchy about mine lately.  They’ve reduced the kinds of recycling they are taking, and I’ve been bugging Eric to sign us up for trash pickup, which comes up our road anyway, and recycles more varieties.  I’m a bit sick of hauling our recycling into town to drop in our friends’ bins. 

But we’re still doing the dump, and may I sing its praises, just this once.  Eric took the trash out, and came back with the best haul of cool stuff from the dump ever.  In this haul was a set of six beautiful and large blue speckle mugs (to replace the cracked and handle-less ones), some bowls, and - get this - a *complete* Encyclopedia Britannica, Macro and Micro, from the 1990s with yearly updates to 2002.  In perfect condition. 

 Ok, I’ve changed my mind - I love the dump.  The heck with trash pickup - I don’t want any fewer excuses to go there.  Now I just need to see if anyone is unloading bookcases ;-).

 Finally, the Garden Design Class will wind up this week, and the Adapting in Place Class will start next Tuesday.  Of all the classes I’ve done, the AIP class was the most fascinating, exciting, troubling and wonderful.  It deals with one of the big questions - how do we deal with our shifting situation where we are, with what we have.  I think that events are moving fast, and many of us have assumed we had more time to make changes - now, a lot of us are confronted with the fact that we’re not going to move to a farm or to the walkable paradise, we’re not going to build the perfect superinsulated straw bale house ;-). 

Adapting in place will run online for four weeks in March, with most of the material posted on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Aaron Newton and I will run the class together, bringing his expertise together with mine and helping people set up a plan for how to live well with what they have, where they are (or in a familiar location).  We do have a few spaces.  Cost of the class is $150 - all the scholarship spots are filled, but we’ll be posting plenty of material for free on our respective blogs.  If you’d like to participate, send me an email at [email protected].

Have a good weekend,


22 Responses to “Miscellany - On the Dump, Not Writing a Book, and the AIP Class”

  1. Adrienneon 21 Feb 2009 at 9:40 pm

    I am a homemaker with two daughters aged 4 and 2. It seems like every time I expend a lot of energy working on outside projects, I have to compensate by focusing back within the house for a time. Since I am still having a great deal of trouble regaining my ability to write and communicate, I am in awe of your prolific writing with small children in the house. I appreciate your books and insight, but I also know that they come from a human being, not a robot. Recenter, reground, refocus. Spend time doing what you love doing. You have a lot of archives–perhaps you could re-run pieces for those of us who haven’t been here for the full 4.5 years. I know that I have really enjoyed delving into past posts, and I suspect that it would be beneficial to have an opportunity to see earlier material that is just as important as your more recent writing.

    I look forward to reading whatever you post for us, whenever it is posted.


  2. Theresaon 21 Feb 2009 at 10:18 pm

    I took the first AIP course, and if anyone is trying to decide to take it or not, I would highly recommend it. You will get more for your money than you could ever imagine. That course changed the way I look at everything about how I live, and kick-started several of my ideas into reality, not to mention giving me a whole bunch of other ideas. It galvanized me and helped me overcome fears I never knew I had, as well as uncovering strengths I never knew I had either. It is a course in practical hope, and we can all use some of that.

  3. Crunchy Chickenon 21 Feb 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I hear ya sister. Take it easy and come back to it when you are ready.

  4. Rosaon 22 Feb 2009 at 12:29 am

    This is the perfect time of year to focus on home, all the spring energy starting up but no actual nice weather to push you into the garden yet.

    You know Bujold’s got the last Wide Green World book out, right? your library might have it by now.

  5. knutty knitteron 22 Feb 2009 at 6:21 am

    Love our dump too. (It’s called a transfer station round here). We got kitchen chairs and a lamp last time.

    Just the short homey blogs are great too. You are human after all, same as the rest of us (mostly:). Anyhow, spring should be beckoning by now because we are headed into winter - miserable rain for three days and more to come apparently!

    viv in nz

  6. Maeveon 22 Feb 2009 at 11:10 am

    I actually prefer your “less intellectual philosophical” posts– the homey ones and the practical skills / knowledge ones.


  7. Lanceon 22 Feb 2009 at 12:36 pm

    You need some rest Sharon. You have helped a lot of people, myself included. Don’t get burned out, it ain’t a race…and if it is one, just remember the tortoise and the hare!

    On a happy note, I am going to teach an adult-ed class (2 weeks, 4 classes) in April in home landscape design here in Montana at a local community college and spread the news. I notice that due to climate change, our valley is no longer Zone 3 but is now Zone 4 (arborday site).

    I have a masters in landscape architecture, and know all the design stuff, am a native plant freak and developing herbalist, and am an enthusiast for biointensive methods. I thank you and Aaron for all the wonderful material I can now pass on to other folks in the community, knowledge/technology transfer being a part of my applied anthropology education as well.

    Thank you, Sharon. Now go watch some wind stir the tree branches and rustle some dried leaves.

  8. The Screaming Sardineon 22 Feb 2009 at 1:07 pm

    I’m going to have to check out my local dump now!

    Sharon, live your life and enjoy it and your family. Don’t burn yourself out due to a sense of responsibility to your readers. You have more than enough info in your books and blog. Thank you!

  9. sglon 22 Feb 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog since it started. Your writing has served a very useful purpose, giving warning to those who would listen, and keeping those of us who also saw problems sane knowing there were a few others scratching their heads while most everyone else was pretending real estate would go up forever, and the party would never end.

    But the world has turned. First housing getting soft then going down with rising foreclosures. Then a huge runup in the price of oil. The final nail seemed to be Oct last year when the stock market really crashed, and the general public has finally snapped out of denial of the myriad problems confronting us. The time for warnings is over. The roadmap you’ve provided will be useful to many. But how much more needs to be added? I expect we’ll have at least a decade, maybe 2, of hard economic times. I think now we’re at the “slog thru it” phase. I expect your writings over the last couple years will remain useful that entire time, with relatively few new issues that you haven’t already commented on.



  10. RCon 22 Feb 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Enjoy some long winter naps, Sharon, soon the garden will be calling for your attention. it’s always something.
    Last week and the week before, I collected seven pickup trucks worth {about 4 tons} of freshly
    unearthed large rocks and small boulders from my dump and arranged them as a large and small
    garden for a client. He helped with 5 of the loads.
    We did all of it by hand in order to welcome the
    low petroleum future to the present.
    Have you thought about the fact that the future has met you halfway upon the quotidian pathway?
    You saw the destination very early and even planned to arrive there.
    Now, while you rest, subconsciously, you’ll be receiving new background signals from the future which you can unscramble at your leisure.
    Enjoy the drifting for now.

  11. AngieCon 22 Feb 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Relax and enjoy just BEING for a day or two, as much as you can with 4 small kids around, with homeschooling too. Then see what turns up at your dump (known as The Tip, over here) and see where it takes you next! I’m a dedicated recycler of things that other people are disposing of, and we’ve had the most amazing fun that way. And my kitchen is full of hard-to-find items like an enamel double-boiler, cast-iron cookware (including a real dutch oven) & perfectly good, often brand-new, stainless steel utensils & knives that other people have just thrown away. I make quilts & reusable shopping bags with thrown-away shirts & curtains and and all my garden containers, and some of my best plants, were rescued from the dump. Even our everyday china, a complete 10-place dining set of Midwinter’s “Stonehenge” came from there and cost me a mere £2. In the evenings we play oldfashioned board games that have been thrown away, complete, or watch videos we’ve picked up for free, although we’re now onto our third Freecycled video player. Best of all, in summer we can cook a campfire supper around either the firepit or the potbellied BBQ, both of which turned up in the “Metals” skip last summer, burning chunks of old pallet. And our bantams live happily in a house built entirely out of an old door, bits of pallet and a roof recycled from a large, sturdy old rabbit hutch.

    Who needs serious money to have serious fun?!

  12. Karenon 22 Feb 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Rest, regroup. We need you with us for the long haul so do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your family. Besides my husband, you have been my companion for the last 3 years helping me stay focused and not feeling too insanely alone in this powerdown process.

  13. Bart Andersonon 22 Feb 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Please, don’t burn out, Sharon! It’s very easy to do … I know, because I’m often on the verge.

    Take whatever time you need to recuperate. Heck, if you write just 20% of what you have been writing, you will still be a major contributor.

    I’ve always suspected that “Sharon Astyk” wasn’t really a person, but a combine of multiple writers.

    take care
    Bart / Energy Bulletin

  14. Annaon 22 Feb 2009 at 6:16 pm

    You just imagine the dump enthusiasts in our county when the university library decided to deposit all the withdrawn books (20,000+) from their collection. Happy day indeed!

  15. Lynnon 22 Feb 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Hey Sharon, one of the things activists must learn to do in any era is self-care - it’s one of the hardest things to learn, particularly for women.

    So take all the time you need for yourself and family - don’t worry about the blog.

    Try on taking a sabbatical from it for a while or try on maybe stop doing it at all (gasp, lol).

    Just live, laugh, breathe and love for a while - the Internet world is too demanding and sped up for most real life anyway and we forget how much it has changed the rhythm of our lives sometimes - sometimes for good, but often for not.

    There are lots of good novels waiting to be read!

    Take care, Lynn

  16. RCon 23 Feb 2009 at 12:08 am

    Angie C — Martha Stewart needs to retire and leave you in charge — Martha can take some long naps, too.

  17. Ravenon 23 Feb 2009 at 11:36 am

    My recommendation is to knit a pair of colorful, foofy socks while watching a Cary Grant movie and drinking more coffee than you ought to. :) Helps me every time.

  18. AngieCon 23 Feb 2009 at 12:30 pm

    RC - I’d be happier taking over from Madame Cholet of The Wombles, an ancient BBC children’s series - much more my style!

  19. SurvivalTopics.comon 23 Feb 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Dump picking is FUN. If I had a billion dollars I would still sift for treasures at the local transfer station. Recently scored some excellent out of print books you cannot buy anywhere - and there were free!

  20. Daleon 23 Feb 2009 at 2:30 pm

    To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose….

  21. Claudiaon 23 Feb 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Sharon, We are often very good at recognizing that there are cycles in nature–plant, grow, harvest and lay fallow. The same is true in our lives. If we don’t honor our “fallow” season, we disturb the cycle. I always remind myself, that, especially in the colder weather areas, we are like bears and need to find a cave and hibernate to sustain ourselves. Sharon, please do a little hibernation! A canyon of blessings to you, Claudia

  22. Exon 23 Feb 2009 at 10:44 pm

    From reading the replies, I am jealous we do not have a dump nearby to glean from.
    Lol, who woulda thunk anyone would actually say that.
    Speaking of out of print books, did you see that Gene Logsdon has released an updated version of his Grains book? On my list of things to order this week.
    If I may make a suggestion, once a week you could toss out a post asking readers to suggest their recommendations for top 10 things to get under a variety of topics, like: books; food prep items; gardening items; clothing, etc.

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