Thursday, May 31, 2007

Barely One Step Ahead of the Blues

I don't know about you all but I'm feeling more than a pinch at the pump. It's more like a chokehold. If you're in the oil refinery business, chances are you don't feel it. But if you're at the other end of the petro food chain, operating a gas station, chances are you're about to shut your doors.

And if you're somewhere in between, like just an ordinary single mom at the grocery store, you're definitely thinking about everything that goes in your basket. And everything at the store costs more because it takes more to get it to the store. Hormone-free milk for $3.39 a gallon, or organic milk $3 for a half gallon? Or, regular, RGH-packed mllk for a sale price of $2.25? How badly do I want my daughter to look like a normal 13 year old in seven years?

Last night it cost me $35 to fill up my tank. If I'm lucky and very careful, that will last me almost a week. But that's if I don't add extra trips. My last fill up was Sunday, but I had to fill up again tonight because of a couple extra trips to Cleveland. I was actually ON "e" when I rolled into my local BP (stands for Big Pinch) station.

Living simply is sort of my norm, but in the last few months I've tried to take it more seriously, and not because of gas prices. My life is easier when I ramp down and realize just how little I need. I try to run the dishwasher just once a week, and do just two loads of laundry a week, and I make all the loads as large as I can. I hate putting laundry away, so why do it any more than I have to! And unless there is something critical, I limit my own time on the computer in the evening, and keep the damn thing off otherwise while I practice, walk, read, or hang out with friends. The side effect of this has been good. Last month, we sheared our electric bill down to a mere $26. But air conditioning season is around the corner. It's unlikely that our new windows, to replace the 25 year old originals that are practically falling out of the frames, will suppress all our energy costs. But it will help some, which helps overall.

And hey, I'm lucky! I'm buying new windows! What about the folks who have NO OPTIONS. Hell, how about people who have NO WINDOWS? I feel the pinch. It's real. But it's way more real for some, especially for folks at the poverty line who have no access to public transportation routes to get them to their jobs, and have to pay per gallon nearly what they get paid per hour. This is a huge problem in Cleveland, and no matter how many studies are done, no one has fixed it yet.

There's been a lot of back and forth this week with some good friends about the state of things and why Americans are burying their heads over the war and this and that. A lot of it really does have to do with being overwhelmed with day to day survival. Even though I try to do what I can, I'm always looking over my shoulder or watching the sky for the other shoe. For most of us everyday, we're just One Step Ahead of the Blues.

And that's the name of this Rhonda Vincent tune I love to sing. It's from the Ragin Live cd released a couple of years ago. If I play my cards right and eat cereal a few nights a week for dinner -- with regular milk -- we'll be able to catch Rhonda at the Musicians Against Childhood Cancer ( concert in Columbus, OH July 27 and 28. We can write off 90% of the ticket on our taxes (and so can you!), and I'll be closer to Rhonda's size 2! Now there's a win-win all around.

Sometimes, a pinch can be a good motivator. ;-)

One Step Ahead of the Blues


At June 03, 2007 10:07 AM, Blogger Blueberry said...

The more well-off you are, the easier it is to be a greenie. We would LOVE to install solar panels everywhere, just buy 100% organic, buy more rain barrels, stay off the roads, etc., but funds are limited and we have jobs that require driving. 2 years ago we replaced our air conditioning units with more efficient ones, and it has reduced consumption... but WOW! It was a punch in the purse initially.

At June 03, 2007 7:39 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

That's true. It seems backwards that the stuff that is better all around is out of reach for the majority of people. Solar is really expensive -- most big power companies could go solar and convert it to the grid a lot more cheaply than you or I could. Hmmmmm, what do you suppose is stopping them? (Skritching head,pretending to ponder).

I do feel for y'all down there where cool is a must. As mother used to say, she preferred the cooler temps: you can always put more clothes on, but you can only take so many off!

At June 03, 2007 8:12 PM, Anonymous quantum environmentalists said...

A little love from my site to your site!

Earth is a living being, and we are part of it. Earth is not just a rock that we happen to live on, here for our pleasure and disposal. All living beings have the same intrinsic value, from the ant to the elephant, the dandilion to the great redwoods, the air and water, and when looking deeply we realize that they are none other than us. We have a choice, we can collectively continue to be cancer to Mother Earth, or we can be healing cells of light, love, and respect. It is up to us, humans are the only beings capable of such a choice. We are it. Spend some time thinking if the choices you make in your life are in harmony with the universe.Take responsibility for your existence here on Earth. We work together synergistically to bring about an intelligent shift in collective consciousness, and when enough of us gather a quantum leap will automatically take place among the rest. A new way is on the horizon! Be empowered!


At June 04, 2007 5:49 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hi QE, well, I hope you're right. It's hard to imagine as I drive to work every day and just see the enormous consumption all around. I suppose it's possible that some kind of implosion might be necessary for things to change for the better.

Meanwhile I hope people at least begin to make little choices. Saying "no" to an unnecessary shopping trip or travel, saying "yes" to recycling clothes or toys or buying second hand. It's true that some people don't have many choices, so I hope this leap can lift them up too!


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