Page created: 20 August 2006
Very often what you can and what you can not do is a matter of attitude. I hope the below will inspire in areas you may need inspiration. Or liberation.
Although the entire website is designed to inspire self reliance with practical examples, these stories and thoughts might just tip the balance from "I am too old, too feeble, not educated enough, have no authority, I don't have the right gender, no resources, etc. etc." to "Yeah, I can do that!".
On this page:
For women (and other genders)
A few bits and bobs concerning women only, and inspiring thoughts.
Chaos with a silver lining
Minor mishaps to major tragedies may start a chain of seemingly unrelated events which could have unforeseen benefits later - that silver lining. If you are in the dumps,
The value of staring into space
Solutions may come about by just sitting around. At least, that is what others might say you are doing. But you know better.
Simple little things like map conventions may possibly influence our world view.
I am not talking about the pressure of your schedule, but ABC - Anniversaries, Birthdays and Christmas (or any other festivity, especially if you are not even religious).
For Women (And Other Genders)
Strength does not come from physical capacity.
It comes from an indomitable will.
The drop of rain maketh a hole in the stone not by violence, but by oft falling.
Addressing some of the few differences between the sexes
There is not a lot I can add here about the work I've done at my homestead other than to say, we can all do it, male or female. Gender does not enter into it (not once was progress hampered for lack of a penis in my tool kit). I am 5'1" tall, weigh less than 100 lbs, am no spring chicken, and I did all the building work single-handedly, without machines, nor did I have any training. Other than a bit more physical strength there is nothing men have that we don't to be able to do it . We women just have to use a bit more trickery or do the work in bite size chunks to make up for the lack of strength.
Wherever possible, I use tools that are smaller, and lighter, but as heavy as I can comfortably use - weight is sometimes an advantage. When it comes to digging in rough ground I use a small pick instead of a heavy pick or mattock and whittle away at it. That way I am not wasting energy lifting the heavy tool, and I can go for many hours, whereas using a very heavy tool would tire me in minutes.
When I design something I scale it to my capability, e.g. I chose to do the log cabin with vertical logs partly because the shorter logs would be easier to handle, though grain direction was also an important consideration. I often use levers and a winch where a man might just pick up the object. So it takes me a little longer, so what? The main thing is, I can do it, and so can most women. All you need is the will to do it. The know-how comes from reading, observing, experimenting, asking questions, even catalogues and sales assistants in builder's merchants can be a mine of information. In many parts of the world women build their dwellings. We do have the nest instinct, we can use it to build our own home, wherever we live.
If you have any cool links or information to share which are gender specific, please email me. Links and information I am not interested in publishing are e.g. women only workshops and such like which only exclude men for the reason that sisters feel intimidated by men. Get over it, walk tall. By the very act of segregation you are perpetuating the idea of difference where it does not exist. If you feel there are attitude issues with men, perhaps being inclusive would be more constructive. Only women bleed, only women bare children, breast-feed, only women have a menopause (it is believed that there is a male equivalent, though it is not a menopause but andropause), women, generally speaking, have physical strength limitations (making them also potential victims of violence), and there are still some legal inequalities (with the burden on either sex, I might add). Those are the issues I would like to see addressed on this page.
Read more on the about page.
Chaos with a Silver Lining
November 22nd, 2006
It is said that a butterfly flapping its wings can trigger a tornado. A seemingly small action or occurrence can lead through a chain of events to a major response, possibly in a distant location. In this chaos example the trigger event is harmless in itself, but causes a catastrophic response. But lets look at a reversed scenario, negative event - small or major, it doesn't matter, but negative - causing a benefit, the proverbial silver lining. The greater the benefit, the better. Think of something good in your life, and retrace your steps to some mishap which was an essential step along the route to arrive at your destination. The good thing may simply be being alive. Stories abound of people missing the train, only to hear on the news later that the train was derailed, causing many casualties. When they realised they had missed the train, they were probably upset, but relieved later, not to be among the casualties (albeit, in this example, the relief would be tinged with sadness for the actual casualties). Nevertheless, it is a silver lining, one less person a potential victim.
The chain of events which lead to me sharing my life dream with a delightful cat may have started with the Big Bang, and later with the primordial ooze, but in more recent history, I can trace at least a few mishaps and syncronicities which were essential links in the chain leading to this beneficial outcome. That is not to say my life would be worse, had they not occurred, but almost certainly very different, maybe worse. Probably not as good as it is. Some of the mishaps were my own, some of them someone else's (but not brought about by me, well, as far as I know).
- Had I not been late for the train (going abroad), I would not have hurried so and left the keys in the ignition of my bike at the station.
- Had I not left the key in the ignition, I would not have phoned an acquaintance who lived near the station, to go there and remove the key.
- Had I not gone to his house to thank him after I returned, I would not have seen their likeable half-grown cat, and would not have asked if there was an unwanted sibling (I had just lost my beloved old cats a few months earlier).
- It turned out the cat came from a nearby farm, and there was one more from that litter, not allowed into the house, living amongst cows, dung and tractors. It was also love at first sight. So here we are, Blondie curled up on my bed, and me, a wood burning stove ablaze, with the rain beating down outside, wondering where she might be now, thinking of what I would have lost out on, had I not left the key in the ignition.
Going back in time a few more years, another mishap and a few coincidences lead to me buying the woodland I now live in, and share with Blondie, who is in cat heaven (no cars anywhere, quiet, lots of mice - thankfully she does not catch many, but she enjoys watching them). The mishap befell someone else, and I was miles away at the time, yet it had a profound effect on my life. Thankfully, it was more of a nuisance mishap, not a serious one.
- Had a young couple not broken down with their car 12 miles from my home, my then boyfriend would not have stopped to help them.
- Had my boyfriend not helped them, they would not have invited him to dinner, and asked to bring his girlfriend with him.
- had I not gone to their house, I would not have been inspired by her craft work to make papier mache goods, which I started to make for sale at craft markets.
- Had I not gone to the craft market to sell, chatting to the lady next to me, I would not have found out about the arrangement she had with a friend living in the city, who would stay at the house to look after the cats when they were abroad. As I was about to visit my parents, and was looking for a suitable person to look after my cats, I got in touch with her friend.
- Had the friend, who agreed, not gone for a walk down the valley and seen a badger, and told me about it, I would not have started to walk down the field myself to spot one (badgers tend to have habits, and he told me where and when he saw the animal).
- Had I not been bored with the same uneventful walk every evening, I would not have wandered further down the valley into the woods.
- Had I not wondered into the woods, I would not have had the strange idea pop into my head if only this was for sale. I have spent half my life in the woods, never having such a thought!
- Had I not 'bumped into' someone in the lane on the way back, I would not have mentioned the strange thought about the wood, and he would not have said 'it is for sale'.
- And the rest, as they say, is history.
Going back another few years, a few more mishaps shaped my future, leading to the purchase of the above cottage, which was necessary for the subsequent events.
- Because I lost out on a cheap, nice country semi-detached house I set my heart on, because I could not sell mine in time, I found a much better and cheaper house in a far better location (the above country cottage). And someone else may have found their dream home, the one I was unable to buy.
- And the cats which needed looking after later on? They came to me through a rather macabre twist of fate. They needed re-homing after the farm they came from was burnt down after the owners were murdered.
- And I would not have been looking for another cat, if my beloved Mingo had not been run over in front of the house, which is also the reason why I wanted to move away from there.
If I could go back in time, I would, of course, have wanted to prevent Mingo from getting killed, but things did not turn out as bad as they could have.
Next time you lose your keys, have a puncture, miss an appointment, miss out on a deal, don't be too dismayed, you may, as a result, meet the love of your life, get the job you were really after, find happiness, anything, as anything is possible in chaos. And you never know how you may be an unwitting link in someone else's chain. Even if you don't benefit from the mishap, someone else might. Every cloud has a silver lining.
The Value of Staring into Space
October 28th, 2006
Yesterday a friend complimented me on the aesthetics of my to-do board, but continued after a brief pause, "Personally, I'm a starer."
I had to laugh, I knew exactly what he meant. My father is a starer, I am a starer. We stare. When trying to work out practical solutions, we just sit and stare, or stand and stare. Sometimes hour after hour. If someone was to ask us what we did all day, we might answer "I designed". My father would say "I am thinking". Could we say "I am staring", especially since it might be into empty space?
Actually, our answer would be correct, we design, we think about the problem, the possible solutions. We see the space or object to be changed with our physical eyes, we see other things in our mind's eye. The images alternate, blend, with no deliberate action.
Let the force be with you.
I remember on many occasions seeing my father look at his model train board, about 2 x 3 meters in size, for hours on end, then grab a box full of track pieces and assemble a complex route system, as though he was laying them out on an invisible chart. I never even saw him making notes.
I need to make notes to hold on to my ideas, but many ideas are created in the same way, by staring into space. My house and workshop were designed to a large extent by staring. Many a sketch was abandoned when I stared at the project. My friend is building a house he designed by staring. Its a lovely house, you'd never guess its strange beginnings.
So, any time someone asks you what you are doing, when you are staring, say you are creating your next masterpiece.
And where does that leave the to-do board? I still need reminding to eat, do the laundry, cut fire wood, pay a bill. Staring wont do those jobs, alas.
November 29th, 2006
Today I met a woman from South Africa, from the most southern part, she said. Now, I live in the northern hemisphere, and one of the thoughts I subvocalised was "down the very bottom". Down the very bottom? Later, thinking about it, I imagined being down there, standing
upright without feeling that I was falling off the earth, looking up at the stars, with nothing but sky above me. Yet, if I were to imagine my home, Wales, on the map, it would also be above me, even though it would be well below me physically. How would I feel about standing at the bottom of the world?
Does our world view shape maps? Or do maps shape our world view? Both, I believe. Early cartographers, commissioned by their wealthy secular and religious patrons, would place themselves, or what was perceived to be the most important place at the centre of their known universe. Medieval maps show Jerusalem or Mecca at the centre.
Home - spiritual or otherwise - always is the centre of your universe. There would be a practical reason too, they would be most familiar with their immediate geographical neighbours in all directions, though limited in distance. These maps could have south or east at the top, but by the Renaissance, the convention for north at the top became established. With the realisation that Earth was a sphere, it would be natural to place the poles top and bottom with the axis of rotation in the vertical position. But why should north, and not south, be placed at the top of the map?
I believe hierarchy is the reason. The most important is always placed at the top. What could be more important than the patriarchal 'first world'? I also believe that this has reaffirmed our self importance in the north over the south. Take another look at the maps above. Do you still see the world in the same way? If you live in the southern hemisphere, do you feel that your country's importance has been somewhat raised? If you live in the northern hemisphere, do you now feel a little more marginalised? The effect may be subtle, but undoubtedly contribute to our world view.
October 21st, 2006
I am not talking about the pressure of your schedule, but ABC - Anniversaries, Birthdays and Christmas (or any other festivity, especially if you are not even religious). Do they really, I mean really matter? Are they not just a repeat multiple of days since x, y, or z occurred? If you don't give a toss about your own birthday or anniversary (and why should X times 365 be of any significance? - every day is precious!), you may be surprised to learn that others are not particularly bothered about theirs either. Why not take the bull by the horn and tell your friends and family that you no longer wish to be tyrannised (you may want to phrase it a little more delicately for the sensitive of temperament) by dates and wish to withdraw from the obligations imposed by some idea born in the mists of time, and refuse to give or receive cards and presents for the mere reason that it is a custom.
Gifts should come from the heart and be meaningful, and not be prompted by custom, based on a day in the calendar. If you have a great idea about something so-and-so would like, and you would love to make them happy, and it is the 4th of June (with no connection to any ABC) then just give. Don't expect reciprocation. It may come, but don't make it the reason for giving.
If you truly feel like celebrating something then why not make your own "holiday", or mark an existing worthy date in a way that is meaningful to you? For me, the only fixed day of the year that has any meaning is the winter solstice, not for pagan reasons, though their reasons for celebrating it would have been undoubtedly the same as mine - but that I am glad the days are getting longer again, a welcome thing in the depth of the cold, dark months. I will say to my friends and family "happy solstice", and that is it. Yes, I do still give some cards to a few people of a generation where these things may matter a bit more, but my list has dwindled to a very small size. I also give presents (and I don't go overboard on what may be expected in this day and age) to my young niece until she is an adult. I do remember my own childhood Christmas and birthday and the joy of getting things, though it was in an era, where that would have been pretty well all the stuff I would be getting all year, with only occasional small things at other times. In those days presents were a way to give to those who did not have, and the gift would be cherished. In an age where children have more pocket money to spend on their mobile phones alone, than I spend on food, I am very disinclined to encourage the idea of "You owe me, just because". Well, there is my rant on the evils of modern materialism.
If I have any spare to give, it is more likely to be to those in real need, or if I know someone would appreciate some particular item I stumbled across, whatever the date or occasion.
I am all in favour of ABC warfare. (If any CIA bot has just picked up this sentence, please refer to the beginning of the post before shipping me off to Guantanamo Bay).
So, when I say it is sixty six days to Christmas, and you feel your stomach muscles tighten, then maybe its time to join a small, but growing number of heretics, and give it a miss.