Quick Shot: The Character Behind Being Self Sufficient

BOB SELF/The Times-Union Dean and Kim Black and their daughter Alanna, 12, load up their plates at a buffet-style afternoon meal. Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/entertainment/home-and-garden/2011-08-06/story/family-lives-land-north-jacksonville#ixzz1Vh71E0BM

I came across this piece while having a wonderful breakfast at Lillie’s Coffee Bar, consisting of unsweetened herbal tea (cold) along with an egg and cheese breakfast croissant . Some free advertising for Lillie’s, the atmosphere helps make this quaint establishment. Nothing too fancy on the menu but I was happy with my breakfast sandwich and the tea was very memorable. That night a jazz band was playing and the courtyard was packed.

Back to the reason for the writing.

My brother-in-law, Larry Figart, is an arborist who works for the City of Jacksonville. His knowledge of plant life is constantly mined when I am with him. He also dabbles in growing vegetables and has recently become a bee keeper (fresh honey for Christmas.) Since my wife and I seem to kill things we try to grow I have held off on attempting to sow my own fruit and vegetable garden, along with something as simple as a sunflower. While the article below did nothing to calm my fears that anything other than consistent and time-consuming attention would suffice when attempting to become a suburban farmer, it did serve to remind me that the time invested reaps something more than food for the table. It is a character building burden of love.

The idea that growing your own food can serve to alleviate your shopping bill is a fantasy I gave up some time ago. I fully understand, and was actually reminded of it this summer, that time and money put into gardening more than likely will cost you in the end regardless of what you harvest. As noted, it requires time and attention, something this blog from 2008 notes in detail.

But is that really the point? So one might spend a few years in the red. Is there not an experience that is obtained from working the land? This article seems to answer that question with a resounding yes. As the father Dean Black stated:

“It’s a labor of love,” Black said. “I’m also teaching my children an important life skill. They’re going to learn it, and one day they’ll find a use for it, or maybe not.”

I think you will find the comments of the children the most interesting, if you are not already exposed to the benefits of being self-sufficient. What this family does extends to actual hunting so my admiration and envy is a bit inflated.


Do Not Waste the Opportunity: Boxtops

Boxtops4Education is an easy way to help your local schools. This effort serves to allow schools to obtain resources through basic consumer purchases. It may not be a component of your decision as you go to and from the local grocer or other establishment but if deciding between two items why not purchase the one that can give beyond the purchase itself?

And what if you are already buying items with boxtops: why would you throw them away?

I would like to offer my services to you. If you live in the Jacksonville area I will pick them up. Simply cut them off the product package and store them in a convenient place. Monthly or bi-monthly I will swing buy and take them off your hands.

Live out of state? Mail them to me once a month and I will refund your postage?

It might require a small behavioral change being that packages will need to be inspected prior to tossing them (and they are going in the recycle bin if appropriate, right?) but once you become accustomed to it  you will do it without thinking.

Contact me with any questions and pass along this offer. It is such an easy way to improve the life of children and hopefully play a role in building a better educational system.

Fitness to Purpose

Nitzer Ebb fans will get the title. They may also remind me the meaning of the song is probably not where I am going with this piece. And they would be correct. However the title alone does serve my purpose of pointing out the many ways in which you can satisfy both your need to get fit and to give back.

Years ago my good friend Chuck Schoonmaker asked me to participate in Jacksonville’s Gate River Run. A 15k (with a nice bridge at mile markers seven and  eight) seemed an impossible task but together we made it through. Now our pace was just fast enough to beat a snail but that was not the point. For me it was a watershed moment of proving what I could do physically.

That is not to say I was a lethargic sofa cushion. I played in a flag football league and engaged in a pick-up game of basketball from time to time. But participating in an endurance event requires a different degree of commitment and mental strength.

Once I had the Gate bug, running became part of my life routine. It was not until my friends Brian Thompson and Joe Peters approached me to take a leg of a sprint triathlon that I really began to understand what the draw was to these type of events. The interesting piece was not so much the sense of satisfaction you get from crossing the finish line (especially at a better time than your last) but also the sense of community and the inspiration from the other participants.

For example, after I finished last year’s Gate I fueled up and found a spot about 50 yards from the finish line. I wanted to cheer on my wife and our friends as they came by. What I was also witness to were pairs of obese competitors pushing each other to success along with few who fell along the route. Those injured, while bleeding and limping, had just as much intent on their faces as those who had finished much earlier.

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