Eco-novice reflects on the inevitability of failure.
Since I embarked on my green journey, I have made numerous gradual changes to our lifestyle as time and budget have allowed. Making these changes has usually required not only some time-consuming research but a fair amount of experimentation. But here's the thing about experimentation. You will fail. At least some of the time. And that's kind of a bummer. Even when you know it's just part of the deal. Here are some of my recent green successes and failures.
Most of the time when I make homemade yogurt, it turns out pretty well. But every now and then, the yogurt doesn't set. So after incubating the yogurt all night, in the morning I find....warm milk (with a little yogurt in it). I have no idea if I can use this milk for anything safely (anyone???), so I end up throwing it away. Which is very depressing. Not least of which for the poor cow who put a lot of energy into making that milk (as I, a milk-maker myself, am well aware). When this happens, it takes me weeks to summon up the ganas to make yogurt again.
I'm not ready to abandon gluten, but I am trying to broaden our grain horizons. I almost always make my whole grain pancakes with all whole wheat, and wanted to try incorporating oats, as in the King Arthur recipe. The King Arthur recipe calls for rolled oats ground up to a powder in a food processor. I don't have a food processor, but I do have a mill, so I bought oat groats and ground them to a flour, and then used some in my pancakes. The result? Gummy, rubbery pancakes. Even though this was an experiment, I had foolishly made the quadruple recipe. Phooey. My next move will be taking some rolled oats to a friend's house and using her food processor to grind up a bunch of rolled oats, and then to try using that in the pancakes. And I'm going to try the oat flour I already milled instead of whole wheat in my healthy whole grain "cookies."
I really want a garden. For about 100 reasons. I get jealous whenever I read about others' gardens. I have yet to plant a single thing.
SuccessesEarly Potty Training
Parenting is riddled with failures. At least for me. So it's nice to have a little glimmer of success now and then. I don't really take credit for making these successes happen, I'm just pleased that I didn't screw up so much that I prevented them from happening. I started putting my second child on the potty around 9 months, and from that time onward, 90% of her poops were in the potty. This meant a more environmentally-friendly diaper washing routine (I often skipped the pre-rinse and just ran a regular wash/rinse cycle), and an earlier transition to exclusive use of the potty. I've been putting my third child (now 6 months old) on the potty first thing in the morning for about a month now, and every single morning, she has made a deposit. It's awesome.
I'm not ready to abandon sugar completely, but I'm quite sure I don't need to be eating bleached sugar. So I've been looking into alternatives. The situation was made more urgent by the fact that I'm having trouble obtaining more honey from my local raw honey supplier (I often substitute honey for white sugar). Fellow Boother Retro Housewife suggested sucanat as the least refined alternative that could be directly substituted for white sugar (with some changes in taste). When sucanat and its accompanying molasses flavor would not work, she suggested organic cane sugar, opining that turbinado sugar was not different enough to merit the mark-up. So I bought some sucanat and have been trying it in various applications. So far I've used it in my whole grain pancakes and whole grain cookies with great success.
I've been wanting to buy a bird feeder for my backyard for over a year now. Still haven't gotten around to it yet. Nonetheless, a hummingbird has built a nest in our backyard. It is totally amazing. I love watching the hummingbird hover next to its nest and then, seemingly instantaneously, appear sitting motionless in the nest. I had never before seen a hummingbird with wings that weren't furiously flapping. I bet there are eggs in there. I can take no credit for this, but I still count it a success. I want my kids to have regular opportunities to interact with the natural world. Sometimes, just by luck, nature finds you.
What are some of your recent green successes and failures?
How do you cope with the failures?