> jumping into life.

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Thaw. The hem of the snowline slides back, revealing the mountains' muscular curves. The fields sigh softly underfoot, and suddenly birdsong fills the morning.

Of course it doesn't last. Probably there is a good foot of snow still between us and real spring. The temperature drops steadily all day, the wind rising. North slopes freeze into a hard and treacherous, beautiful sheen. It'll be sugaring time soon, time for seedlings and chicks.

We walked the snow-crusted edges of our yard, plotting the garden to be. We have yet to see the soil, much less gauge or test it, but we can reckon the play of light and shadow, and our hopes would fill at least half of any glass. Each week we make the trek over the mountain to J's mom's basement, where we gather the trappings of our lives. The essentials we have carried with us for months: long underwear, toothbrushes, pillows, our favorite cooking pots and books. The rest we collect in order of need: first come more cooking pots and pans, the teapot, and books. Some favorite pictures make it into the first load, along with the banjo, the mat for the front door, my favorite red chair. The next round brings some more clothes, the kitchen details (dish rack, utensil tray, potholders), the vacuum. Our station wagon holds a surprisingly large load: the kitchen table and chairs, and our coffee table fit in there too.

Rabi at wockerjabby wrote recently and eloquently about wanting things, about buying them as a result of want, rather than need. The list of things I want for my new home keeps growing: a doormat outside, a full-length mirror, a loveseat, some artwork for the kitchen, curtains, a mudroom bench. Do I need any of these things? No. Our house was functional before our first stuff-gathering trip. We had a small dinner party last night, and while it would have been nice to have had more seating, people have sat on the floor since forever and it's really not so bad. Several of those items would be useful - the bench especially, and the doormat - but they still aren't necessary. Like Rabi, I'm opposed to wanton consumerism on principle; like her, I would have been highly unlikely to buy any of those things new; and like her, the real reason I haven't bought them is that we can't afford them.

I feel torn here. It is important to me that my house be warm and inviting and a pleasant place to be. Right now we're putting out a lot of expense for the farming operation, and spending more on mirrors and curtains doesn't make sense. But if we did have the money, I'd have mirrors and curtains, even though I don't need them (all the windows in question face the forest).

If consumption is the answer to our economic problems, I'm not sure I understand the question. All the solutions that emphasize more lending, more borrowing, and--therefore--more debt seem to be ignoring the first rule of holes: stop digging.

it's a neverending fight against yourself, isn't it? like right now I want a grill pan. for what reason? like the skillet isn't good enough? gah.

I do think, though, that making your home comfortable is a pretty key thing in overall, existential happiness. so I wouldn't begrudge you a pair of curtains. ;) and I bought a fair percentage of my furnishings new, partly because of the whole bedbug thing.

I think balance is key. Shifting the fulcrum is definitely in order, but not to the other end.

Yeesh, bedbugs. It is a fight, but in a good way, I think - I'm being forced to prioritize and examine my desires, rather than just justifying and indulging them.

And of course you're right, Arvind. I long ago gave up any pretense of asceticism, and I'm not interested in the martyrdom of self-denial. It's just a matter of finding that balance (and keeping it within our budget!).

my agreement on preceding issues is expressed through my fear of commitment: i want a bathrobe. i don't NEED one. but the reason i don't own one is that i will not be able to pack with me when i eventually leave.

although i have been naughty lately and purchased: a pepper mill, a rolling pin(!), at least two oven dishes, and a muffin tray. yes, it's been a baking spree lately. luckily you're married so i don't need to warn you against having affairs with pastry chefs...
xx nika

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