Monday, July 11, 2005

BRC 32: Steve Balogh: Stressed out from thinking about Peak oil? - Do something from scratch

Steve Balogh publishes baloghblog, a "fledgling blog dedicated to sustainable ideas, and progressive news items."

Sometimes the thought of peak oil gets a little overwhelming. You try to wrap your brain around the whole concept, and what it means for you, your nice car, your "small" mortgage for the house in the hills. But it's too much... One day - you think about starting your own farm to be able to provide food for your family, the next - you want to build a pantry in your basement and stock up on all the things you'll want to have if things go bad. Some days you just want to go back and "take the blue pill" instead of the red and forget that you even knew it was coming.

What can you do with all of this nervous energy and worry? What can take your mind off of it?

[Besides red wine and sex?]

Try doing something from scratch. I don't know why, but I have found it very therapeutic lately. Something about getting your hands dirty, or your creative section of your brain re-awakened, or learning how to do something that will help you out in the future, that eases stress.

Just some ideas for you, I know not all apply to every individual, but maybe it will spark another idea in your head, or maybe you'll end up liking something you never thought you would.

Cook something:
Bake a loaf of bread (from scratch): knead the dough, get the bread to rise, bake it and savor your creation. Who cares if it doesn't taste like wonder bread, and looks slightly lopsided.

Or consider making pizza dough, and bake a pizza from scratch.

Bake a batch of toll house cookies. Not from the tube, from the recipe on the back of the semi-sweet morsels. Share them with friends and family.

Get in touch with your masculine side:
Pound a few nails - build something with wood, nails a hammer and a saw. Make your own shelf, make a bird house, whatever floats your boat. Learn how to use a level, and how to cut a square corner. Get good at measuring twice and cutting once. (my dad's carpentry mantra)

Split a few logs. Make a fire. (not for you city folk- but there are many state parks near the big cities, get out and do a little camping.) Grab your iron skillet, put it on the red coals and cook something up.

Relearn how to catch a fish. If your a carnivore, learn how to clean it, and have a fish fry. If you're veggie, then catch and release - no harm no foul.

Get in touch with your feminine side:
Learn how to sew a button, sew a patch, hem a pair of pants. Learn how to knit a scarf to keep you warm in the winter.

Make candles - all you need is some paraffin wax, string for wick, scented oil if desired and a double boiler. My wife has made some great candles over the past several years. Economical, and could come in handy in power outages.

Be creative:
I know that I loved a brand new spiral notebook when I was a kid. It was a blank slate and endless opportunity. I would write fantastic stories in it, let my mind imagine anything that it wanted to. I don't write stories any more, sadly the TV writes my stories for me. Most of the time the TV doesn't have anything I want to watch on it now (except Lost). Maybe I'll pick up a new spiral notebook at CVS this week.

Play with your kids, nieces/nephews, etc. Make up a new game. Make a play with your kids stuffed animals.

Paint a picture. Ahem, I mean paint a picture.

Make your own music. I prefer harmonica, and do a lot of drum solos with my pen... But I did attend a 'jam session' once and messed around with a mandolin, while others played guitar and sang, it was one of my fondest memories of NYC.

Write a letter. By hand. On paper. Grandma would love to hear from you. So would your mom and dad, or your best friend from college. Everybody loves to get mail that isn't a bill, or credit card solicitation.

Be a farmer:
Grow some food.

Grow something, anything from a seed. Sunflowers work quickly, and never fail to amaze me - such a huge flower from a tiny seed.

Learn how to compost. Use it around your flower beds and veggie gardens for rich soil.

Final Thoughts -
It takes a lot longer to do something from scratch. It takes a lot of effort and some know-how. Sometimes it doesn't come out like you planned. Sometimes that the beauty of it. You learn from your mistakes. It feels good to make something out of raw materials and to use what you've created. Sure it costs 99 cents for a loaf of white bread in the supermarket, but as they say, knowing how to bake your own bread, is priceless.

Knowing how to do many of these things, even at a basic level will help you to become more independent and live a more sustainable lifestyle.

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