Mary Beth Writes

Mindful Chickens   5/14/2019

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

1. Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).

2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

3. Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

These are things we have thought, attempted, and done in the past month to live more lightly and frugally on our City Plot of Planet Earth.

1. Our “lawn” is filling in with plantain weed, crab grass and bare patches (can bare patches fill in?). Asked the internet about ground covers and read that Creeping Thyme (doesn’t that sound, well, creepy?) is not invasive.  We bought nine little plants of it and are now in the middle of a yard project that will end with the scraggly grass dug out and thyme planted in.

Read just this morning that there is three times MORE land in the US devoted to lawns than to farms.  MORE fertilizer run-off, which wreaks havoc with our waterways, comes from fertilizing lawns than from farming.  This is insane.

To live lighter on the planet while saving money on products -we can reduce the size of our lawns. 

Also: did you know any day you rake your grass for 20 minutes you can skip your aerobic workout?  Plus that side-to-side motion is slimming. 

2. I was out of apples, so I walked to the grocery store with a backpack and bought some. Four-mile round trip that used no non-renewable fuels. Once I ate an apple, I was renewed. Also, when one is walking, one is less tempted by extra stuff, since you must carry it home.

3. I realized two pairs of my jeans had become too short. (I got taller?) I also only have one pair of capris. I was going to donate the jeans back to Goodwill and then shop there for capris until realized I can just make the jeans shorter. All I need now is to find my sewing stuff; I know I put it somewhere around here. (We moved into our first house in 1985. Two years later I asked our neighbor if I could borrow her iron and I can still hear how hard Hildy laughed. “You have gone TWO YEARS without ironing anything?”

4. I am trying to not let the water run when I brush my teeth or rinse things in the kitchen sink. To that end, I now close the stopper so that the water rises in the sink. Seeing the water rise is my own little teaching moment.  

5. Yesterday I found a quarter on the ground and Len found a dollar. 

6. Our digital subscription to the Washington Post doubled. Len called to negotiate or cancel. The lady on the phone okayed us for another year at the same rate. 

7. Both Len and I got very good (slow) haircuts at WCTC. His was free. Mine was $8. (Plus tip) We don’t mind donating our heads to the young for a while.

8. Have been reading library books, including Becoming by Michelle Obama.  Was on that waiting list for months, but it was an excellent read.   I discovered Mary Doria Russell for the first time.  A Thread of Grace is fiction written about northern Italians and Jews who worked together in the resistance in WWII. Amazing book. The characters kept waiting for the Allies to get past Rome and up to them; my dad was in that army they were waiting for. 

9. Pat gave me 3 rhubarb plants which are already twice the size they were when she gave them to me.  I just found a site online where I can purchase 12 rhubarb plant crowns for $52, not including the shipping.  Wowzers!  

10. All three of my adult children have moved or are moving this month or next. All three have different ways of managing their money and resources when they do this. I don’t comment when they do things differently than I do.  I DO comment how much I appreciate that they hire movers. 


What do you do to reduce consumption and waste?










I am worried about water softeners. They waste a lot of water, and, worse, they add a lot of salt into the wastewater every time they recharge. The city needs to keep the salt concentration in the sewage low, so they add additional water to the treated sewer water, which wastes even more water. Does anyone know about this? Can I adjust my water softener to use less salt? Are there newer water softeners that adjust the recharge to match actual water usage?

Because I've been working out on a daily basis I haven't had to buy any New to me clothes because I have a bunch of stuff I never donated that I now fit in again. It's a win win because I'm healthier and I'm not spending money on new stuff... I never run water when I brush my teeth and I never buy toothpaste because I brush my teeth with baking soda... A cardboard box is biodegradable and those empty empty toothpaste end up in our waterways and landfills and who needs that??

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Less Lemming, More Living

Last week I posted an essay railing against our North American/western maniacal consumerism. We are so deep into climate crisis and into destabilizing world poverty caused by the oligarchy of the few.  Something has to give. Plus this: If we are living on $50,000 a year or more, we are already earth’s top 1%. Isn’t this nuts? It really is up to us to turn back this crazy lemmings’ march to the sea.

We have to change how we live ...

We can’t go on like this.  Our everyday Western/American lifestyle -- is utterly unsustainable. 

Bread, Tortillas, and Chocolate

 As many of you know, I follow a website called The Non-Consumer Advocate, written by Katy Wolk-Stanley who defines herself as “… library patron, leftovers technician, Goodwill enthusiast, utility bill scholar, labor and delivery nurse, laundry hanger-upper, mother and citizen.” She has purchased very little newly-manufactured consumer goods since she joined The Compact; a movement of people who choose to rethink mindless consumption.

The Money for Our Brother is Raised

We got the balls rolling!

Irony of the universe here.  I have written a lot this week but none of it turned into writing I wanted to post on this website.  Just awkward, mawkish, rambly writing.

I was hard-thinking why I do this and it wasn’t self-pitying thinking.  (I know how to do that, too, but this wasn’t that.) 

Then late yesterday afternoon Helle said Our Brother needs help and the total of what he needs is more than she could support him with. I said I would think about it.

April 15th is a Rough Day for Many

Here’s something I bet many of you of the “white privilege” class are not aware.

I sure wasn’t thinking about this until yesterday.

Monday is April 15th. All of us know what that means, don’t we?  Ha-ha. Time to get our taxes posted or an extension applied for!

Know what else it is?

Utility cut-off date.  Monday is the last day for people who owe money to their utility companies to pay those bills. If they don’t, their heat and lights go off Tuesday.

Mindful Chickens – Carrot & Grape Oatmeal 3/23/2019

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

1. Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).

2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

3. Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.


1. I’ve spent hours lately working on two self-inflicted writing projects. One is about the Midwest in the 1600-1800’s. Why do I care? I don’t know but I’ve been working at it for a long time and I still am.

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