cafe mama

finding magic every day

an urban homesteader knits . tales of dishcloths and sprouts . february 11 . 2008

homely dishcloth on sink gives meaning to political movement perhaps
I'm not sure what was the genesis of it all. I often call giving up my car my "gateway sacrifice,", so maybe it was that. Maybe it was the BBC, night after night as I struggled for sleep amongst breastfeeding babies and pregnancy aches, telling me in the agonizingly calm voices about species disappearing in Portugal, about glaciers melting to nothing in Iceland. Maybe it's part of the process of becoming myself, that process that seemed so simple and straightforward at 19 (because I was already myself, duh!), and now... and now...

Who am I? Surely, I am cafe mama, mother of three boys, finance blogger chick, I have written more biographies and "profiles" than most people twice my age. I am writer, photographer, keeper of chickens. Blogger of pregnancies, knitter of hats, sewer of slings, baker of bread, maker of messes.

Perhaps I just need a movement. Harriet Fasenfest can help. She calls herself an "urban homesteader," and that feels about right (one of my IM status messages is "farm in the city," so perhaps her movement has been mine, all along). What is an urban homesteader? Someone who's decided to opt out of as much industrialization as possible, as Harriet says, "living in distinct opposition to the status quo of mainstream economics. I am declaring my opposition by creating different systems within my home and hoping that in joining forces with others, we can speak as a movement against reckless corporate policy and painfully dysfunctional global economic systems." Making breakfast from locally-sourced organic foods, keeping chickens, sewing clothes, growing your own black beans and tomatoes and garlic. Eating seasonally; getting to know your butcher; milking a goat. Knitting dishcloths.

Harriet came over for tea last week, and she inspired me in so many things. She wants it to be a political movement; it's for us to reject breakfast cereal, snack foods made in China, long commutes, 60-hour work weeks, isolation. It's for us to share freezers (and maybe even houses), backyard gardens, canned tomatoes, raw milk. It's for us to connect in new ways; to really work together; to look neighbors in the eye again.

I don't have time to get this movement started properly; I have a five-year-old who's been (this just in!) officially described as "emotionally disturbed" by Portland Public Schools, an almost-three-year-old who's finally putting two words together, a baby who's already learning to crawl, a full-time job. But I have time to make mozzarella, and knit a dishcloth for Larissa.

Knitting dishcloths is perfect for an urban homesteader. What could be a better use of your time in the drear of a February afternoon? While your oatmeal bread is rising, tonight, find some number 7 needles and a skein of cream-colored cotton yarn and knit a little dishcloth [pdf pattern for a dishcloth I'm calling "Astrid"]. Maybe Larissa doesn't know it, yet, but her art project could just be the symbol of urban homesteaders everywhere. For you, knitting a dishcloth could be gateway sacrifice, the start of so much more.

Or maybe you'll just knit a dishcloth. Either way: find your own magic in the everyday.

paying the bills

read my previous post . crafting my words at culinate . january 27 . 2008