Thursday, December 15, 2011

Modern Day Thoreau? hmm!

Woo! I'm being researched by a PhD student from Arizona!:) The lovely Tamara Wallace Ramirez @artplaceidentity has asked me (along with some other awesome bloggers like Sooz and Jenn,Grant&Rhyannon@Clean Bin) about what it means to share personal stories with an activist dimension online.

In fact, she accused me/us of being 'modern day Thoreau'.

I never really thought of myself as 'Thoreau'! (Though I was vaguely familiar with him! And murmured a few lines from The Lake Isle of Innisfree now and then. Not that this is related.)

I used to hate gardening with a vengeance!
In fact, Mum had a very bad disciplinary practice of asking us to either garden or study/do homework when we were kids (whereupon we ended up reading Victoria Holt hidden secretly in a drawer!)

But then I saw this documentary by an award-winning French journalist:

and found out the only way to be absolutely sure what you eat is to grow it yourself, that GMO soy has even been labelled as 'eco/organic soy' in our country, that 'eco food' was EXPENSIVE *AND* wrapped in plastic/unrecyclable cellophane in stores, and much of it imported from Italy or elsewhere! (In fact, most of the supermarket food seemed to be imported from SOMEWHERE: garlic from China, beans from Argentina... YIKES!!)

The World According to Monsanto - excellent documentary!
and book: (make sure you get the right version of DVD depending on your TV system)

So, I developed a passion for the hoe. (Okay, not exactly.) But I cursed Monsanto with every blow.
And realized it was not so much trouble, and a lovely workout! Hey, it was free!! And I got a kick out of free food too!! :)

I LOVE experimenting and may quickly get bored, so blogging was another way to keep up the MOTIVATION!

But it all started before that.

I was writing my eco SF romance when I heard some bad news on the radio! YIKES! An incinerator was to be built in Granny's town! And they called it 'eco-friendly'?? What to do? The whole point of my book was to not just 'look away', but to take action!
I researched the hell out of it and talked to some people, but it was too far along, I had too little knowledge or support to make a difference then (and some health problems), but no one could stop me to try and make ZERO WASTE personally (or come as close as I could)! Heck if I wanted my trash to become a toxic problem for the health of my friends and relatives in an already chemically polluted area!
They were like textbook examples of health problems from environmental pollution.

So I wanted to make zero waste. But had no idea how. :)

I read books on natural cosmetics, consulted my Grandma on how they did it in the 'old days', rethought the idea of 'cloth pads' (first I thought it exotic but gross & possibly terrifying lol!) and Googled like crazy.
I actually had a hunch how to stop the incinerators, didn't know what to do to reduce waste though!

I felt soo 'imperfect' with my own not-so-eco-practices and didn't know how to inspire others - until I stumbled upon the AWESOME!
They weren't perfect either, but they were having FUN exploring new things and BLOGGING about it!! :)

... And they only made one bin of trash in one year! One BAG of trash in next year!

Support from other eco bloggers - 'trashbloggers' like Mrs Green and her family, and Mrs Almost Average and Danda from Italy and Sooz and others has been great INSPIRATION! Connecting to like-minded people was a big factor, at the same time a 'by-product' was to raise awareness about it all to new people too - I actually wanted to start a 'proper' blog (with own domain name etc, haven't quite gotten round to it yet).
This blog was sort of like a 'stepping stone' in the direction to a more 'proper blog' (where I wouldn't be that personal lol).

No one around me was as obsessed about trash as I was (or knew anything about waste reduction) at the time, so I had to find info, 'allies' and support online... in books and from my Granny too, and some other older ladies... (they had great tips and info on living almost-zero-waste before this crazy era of throwaway consumption!!)

I was already committed to a certain set of environmental values - began blogging as a way to keep track of it all, research new things and have info in a handy accessible form (computers can crash too, the internet can sometimes actually be safer to keep track of things...)

I still want to make zero waste (or as close as possible), meanwhile, I've started following economy and politics even (who would have thought??!)
They are all linked with environment and decision-making...
I've found some allies in RL too, though it's all still err... experimenting :)

I was a 'non-political' person before, more into artsy/music/literature/culture stuff, didn't care about politics... (and usually switched the radio to music or TV to comedy, films or videos). I still prefer to read trashy novels to 'serious' economists or political stuff...

This blog started as a personal experiment - if political decisions (ie to build incinerators and promote them as 'eco-friendly') go against what one thinks is right, what can one person do?

Hm, the more I read about Thoreau the more I can relate to him!
He he, he refused to pay TAX too lol, who wants to pay taxes in a country that builds incinerators and such stupid things??
The economy needs to be CHANGED and TRANSFORMED - what we've been doing is not sustainable!)

So now I have another VISION: to build a country where one would WANT to pay taxes!! Wouldn't it be great?

I live 'in the middle of nowhere' so connecting with others is priceless and online world is a window into what others have been doing worldwide - and maybe some inspiration back too!! :)

Who is your audience?
I write to and with the people online, who are trying to make a difference and go more eco-friendly too... (and have been sometimes struggling with it and making silly mistakes, like I do... Or have gone through difficult times like I have...) Or some who haven't really thought about it, but they see my blog and go 'Hey, yeah, it's important to recycle/be more eco-friendly!' etc. (Cute pics help here!:) If I've inspired one person, or a few, to try something new, and see 'eco-friendly' living as an ADVENTURE and not 'something gruesome oi yuck!' I've done a lot! :)

(I only showed this blog to one cousin in RL and she wasn't too happy over what I wrote about her in a previous post lol! The idea is to have a mini-rant-space over sometimes-uncooperative family and community!:) She was happy to have her pics online though (likes to have her photos taken!)

At the moment I feel like I've built this blog like a statue to my Granny... To sort of keep memory of her and what she meant to me alive...

I'd probably stop writing the blog if there weren't any feedback :) The idea was to connect with people, learn from them, and keep on track with the zero waste thing. It's not ROCKET SCIENCE, but it's not so easy sometimes - one needs to unlearn decades of BRAINWASHING/MARKETING sometimes, re-explore basic assumptions, one can get disheartened without positive encouragement, especially if there may be many obstacles or some negative feedback/experiences in RL...

As for BLOG FORM: Hm, my posts are not so short! lol!
I know I get more comments on shorter posts with pics, and/or very enthusiastic ones... It doesn't stop me from posting at other times though...
I like it that I can include links to keep track of research or inspiration more easily...
If something makes me really angry, or happy, or sad... I'll probably blog about it (or post elsewhere, or at least write in a private journal)
It's probably a bit like THERAPY (like Kafka wrote), I'm addicted to writing lol!

What I really LOVE about blogging is connecting to some really AWESOME people out there: it makes me feel HOPEFUL that people from all over the world are being creative and inspiring and doing some pretty awesome (and cute!) things to go more eco-friendly...

What influence that you hope your blog will have on others?
I don't have dellusions that my blog would 'change the world' (by itself) but it's helping me maintain sanity, health... And have some FUN with it all!!

I like to think of myself as someone doing a 'tiny bit' - if everyone does own 'tiny bit', we can do A LOT!!

Oh, and someone from Brazil reads my blog - I don't know anyone from Brazil, lol!! But it makes me THRILLED that maybe they can get some value & INSPIRATION from what I write! :) Arizona is a pretty COOL place too, never been there! So, it's a place for INTERNATIONAL working and co-operation, working together on things that are IMPORTANT - for this planet & all of us!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just a Brief Update - On Furniture, Lime Paint and Other Horrors

I keep meaning to blog, and then other things happen and 'latest news' isn't 'latest news' anymore, lol.

Well, we survived the heatwave/s (somehow). Without AC! (I'm still proud of this!)

The walls of the room have been painted - with eco-friendly lime paint! (Even though I/we were afraid it wouldn't stick to previous paint, it did!:)

Some Granny's furniture is in my room now. :) I love the shiny wardrobe/closet, though doing this also made me realize flaws and problems of old furniture. (I am also a bit afraid of the Dumbledore/martians/extraterrestrials/wild things motif that I just discovered after firmly deciding to keep the closet, and forgot about it until we set it up lol - don't laugh, this would be excellent material for a Stephen King-like story! lol!)

Oh, and I got injured by (another) piece of furniture when Dad was too much in a hurry to GO GO GO!! :) Yikes!
When arranging to move furniture, set the HOUR not just the day straight!!
So, I'm still recuperating... (Nothing's broken though, luckily!!)

The other room has been emptied, painted, furniture moved around... and now it's full of stuff again! (No fun painting in a heatwave, I tell you though!!)

This is SUCH an exercise in anti-capitalism and anti-consumerism, lol!!

It was so much FUN to be in a zen-minimalist setting, but sis then delivered all my stuff back to me, cause she wants to finish her rooms too!

It's a bit like 'get the numbers in a row' game or rubic's cube, you have to empty a room and put all that stuff elsewhere, and then bring it back, along with other things, slowly the garage is getting emptied of Granny's stuff... Hopefully by New Years the car will fit back into the garage! lol

Okay, I know the official date is sooner, there may be floods in a few months and ideally no more precious things on the groundfloor.

I still don't know where Granny's Rumtopf (rum pot) is, I wanted to make yummy fruit-in-rum goodiness this year already, but next year apparently... (You add in fruit and sugar (and rum) as you go along, strawberries as they're ripe, cherries when they're ripe etc.) Sooz of the Last Biscuit reminded me of this, hehe. :) And now I want some! lol!
Granny used to make it... (OR, the pot would be excellent for keeping cloth pads in, still haven't decided fully, but that rum pot is just too yummy!! so I think that'll win!)

My room is almost livable now, BUT the other room: home office/kitchenette/living room - is - FULL of boxes and I don't know what to do with them! LOL!

Some inspiration at NotEasytoBeGreen: on getting rid of books. Yes, I'm a book lover, and sis is even worse!! We have tons of books in the house, and those that I don't want anymore, dad doesn't want to give away, etc! It's a vicious circle! :)
At least I'm boxing some of the uni stuff, there's not much room in the storage part of the attic though, a big cleanup action would be necessary there too!

Soo... there's still lots to do, researching what is better: acrylic or silicate paint, to finish exterior of the house (the below section)! What is more eco-friendly and health-friendly? Any ideas??

Edit: mum's just shown me where the rum pot is! :) <3 <3 <3 Bless her! There are no strawberries or cherries to put in it though!! So, until next year! :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Granny's Treasures

This blog (and myself) have been having a sort of 'identity crisis'.

I've spent the most part of the last few months worrying about Grandma's flat and her pretty awesome furniture and other lovely objects - and Dad's desire to just, uhm, throw it all away!

How do you put a 3-room city appartment (with balcony) into an already overcrowded house/attic in countryside suburbia?

No, we couldn't take the furnaces: one was built-in and one got donated!

I spent some time over at her place, going through things, putting lovelies into boxes etc. (and other random stuff - yes, my parents were sometimes shocked with terror at some of the things I wanted to KEEP! There were some scenes, yup..) It wasn't easy. Sometimes, it was downright difficult. It was also a healing experience...

Granny had a pretty, err, unique sense of style... ;)
This was sitting atop a fridge and I still have no idea what it is!! (It's pretty though, isn't it? I hope they haven't thrown it away??) Next to it are some seeds and an Uncle's custom wine ;)

None of the photos really do the AWESOME credenza filled with princessy stuff justice!!! It was one of the most AMAZING things for us kids in Granny's flat, and it's an awesome mixture of tacky and classy - though on most of the photos it just all looks, err, tacky lol! But ^^that's just the best way to describe Granny's style, I guess!!

There was decades of unwanted birthday gifts and such in there!! ;)
Some of the choices were hilarious: Coz oohed and ahhed over the violet glasses (you can't really see them here, Coz found them very arty and stylish lol), but in the end I had to tell her that Grandpa really hated them and never wanted to drink from them cause he saw them as too 'funeral-like'! lol!

One shelf missing... Yeah the dolls scare me too - Aunt and Mom had a great fondness for them though: memories!! Coz2 actually took the scary shell-chicken!! (They love chicken and hens and geese at that house!!) I was soo relieved... (Nobody wanted some of the even tackier mementoes though, no idea what to do with those?? Boxed'em up so far!)

Cousin took some of the beautiful plates and cups and glasses that were on exhibit in living room - we almost killed each other over a vase, but other than that it went pretty well - we had a 'Grandma-remembering party over a weekend and divided the credenza princess china fairly'.. Okay, except for the vase, maybe.. but I'm now stuck with some lovely tiny coffee cups I have no idea what to do with rather than play princesses lol!! (PS That's not Granny in the photo above!!)

My motto was (of course): no waste! (Or as close to it as possible!)

But where to put the couch and armchairs and other... things?

This did bring some stress at times inbetween, and some really nasty looks from the family - there was some trash (especially when I wasn't looking!!) I tried to jump around and prevent just trashing stuff wherever I could... I've learnt some lessons too, couldn't really push it as it was... we were all kinda upset and cranky most of the time anyway.. (when in the same room together lol) Sometimes I had to remind myself this was Mom's Mom, and so no wonder she was cranky and upset too.. And Dad - well, he never lived with Granny for years and it wasn't his Granny - sometimes I had to remind him of that too!

(My Dad is of the 'toss and buy new' variant! Though he prevented me to donate some things that I would've lol!)

The Albanian ex-neighbours (and their relatives/friends) took some furniture and other things (which I then fretted over, but hey! I hope the couch will be treated nicely, it was SUCH a lovely couch to sit on!) It was an adventure taking it down from the 3rd floor with VERY many stairs!! (And no elevator.)

What can I say to people asking to get stuff for free: measure your elevator first!! Aargh!! The electrical furnace was pretty heavy too..

The flat wasn't Granny's and we couldn't keep it so it all 'had to go'...
Maybe if we were more savvy we could put some stuff up for sale, but in moments like those you don't really think about such things.. It would be very difficult to make money from the sadness.. you don't think right in moments like these...

In the end, Dad only got to take a rather ancient cooker/oven in bad shape and an old washing machine (no idea whose? it was in the cellar) and an old-er radio to the landfill to be recycled. We hope they get recycled proper.

The really old radio may get to be taken by Uncle or a museum/private collector. (Not sure if Uncle can be trusted, he has had moments of 'let's take it to the landfill' too!!)

How can you not love this couch?? <3 <3 <3

The arm chairs, the lovely bed frames and the oh-so-lovely ancient couch (in rather bad shape, but with original upholstery!!) got donated to an organisation where people with cerebral palsy renovate gifted things and sell then... I didn't know they would threaten with sawing off the armchairs and dressing them in jeans then though!! (Bad modern design - the huge benefit of those arm chairs was the ease of sitting in them even for tall people!!) And they said they'd take out the upholstery from the couch and put in foam!! Grr!! It was a time when I REALLY wished I had moved away and had my own flat or house!! I hated Dad for a few days!!

They just needed some renovation 'underneath'!

I really wish we were given more options or time or knowledgeable help in doing all this.. to properly find good homes for the stuff...

I preferred not to be around for the final days, and well, my backache sorta flared up too... (I tried to lift a table that was pretending to not be heavy all by myself!!)

This photo doesn't really give the door credit, I really LOVE the ancient doors... (Okay 1960-ish..) Many other photos didn't turn out' right' either, I hated my camera for a while too, the light wasn't right, or the close-ups weren't right.. And I thought I'd photoed it all already and didn't bother to look at the photos when I still had a chance to photo... It's all gone now... Our garage is pretty full though!!

Coming back home was stressful: everything Granny's was packed and packaged with such great care - and on the front lawns of neighbours there was just soo much STUFF - to be thrown away and taken by the trash-collector next day!! (No wonder my back flared up!) I was scared for our pretty furniture for a bit, hence the lifting of the evil table and moving it closer to the house! (and bad back intermezzo, so I couldn't go and rescue some more stuff!! yikes! I think at that point the parents would have probably disowned me-??) Stress DOES cause backache though, there's a great book about it if you're interested. I also promised myself to start exercising again once it gets better!!

As for now, just RELAXING - on my new bed!! :) Which you'll see in a few days, haha!! :) Also fishing for a new and better ergonomic desk online. And ogling tiny flats at Apartment Therapy with great desire!! Some great tiny flats there!!

There is a certain liberating feeling of emptiness of a more and more empty flat...

Our house feels pretty cluttered up now though!!

And I am contemplating where to put it all!! Aargh!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I want to live in a world...

A lot has happened lately, I wanted to blog about things, just didn't know how.

Granny died, she was my eco inspiration. Eco lady, before the word was invented! (at least locally) She taught me so much (even if she was shocked about it sometimes).

The shocking thing is I tweeted about how awesome old Grannies are* (instead of visiting her), a day or so before things went bad...

It really makes me re-evaluate all I have been doing...

Community zero waste didn't go so easy, there's a reason why green movement is scattered all over the world... The good thing is, many people are becoming more and more aware of things... (The difficult thing is to get everyone 'on board' and find ways how to do things in harmony and aligned and sustainable not just scattered and 'random'.) Small efforts still matter.

So even if we're not united (yet), or if things seem horrible sometimes, there's still hope.

This is the artist behind the song: Eeyore The Troubadour you can listen to the whole song or download it!

Love & kisses, Layla (still pretty shaken, though getting better, slowly, even decluttering the attick somewhat)

*(full version of that great short film on activist grannies here I'd probably need to make a proper blog post about it but I can't just now, you should see it though! And visit your Granny before it's too late!! Get her to teach you her eco tricks - she probably knows some mean ones! Even if she may not be aware of it at all!! There is still so much I wish to have learnt from her.. about living a simple life, in simple ways.. and how to have magic green fingers.. and stuff that only grannies can tell..)