“Stoneheads” was the name of my grandparent’s home when i was a young girl. I didn’t realise it at the time (i thought they were dreadfully oldfashioned, in the way that the young leap to condemn the old) but they taught me so much about the way to live a sustainable life – they really were almost ahead of their time. Or perhaps just old-fashioned – they say sooner or later it all goes around. The new-found popularity of “the good life” would be testament to that.
Anyway, Stoneheads, although the house itself isn’t in the family any more (and the garden is now very different) its becoming more and more a concept, a symbol, if you like, for me, of what i’m trying to achieve. The whole title is testament, really, of my changing consciousness over the last year, of not only what i want (and don’t want) from life, but also changes in how i think. Becoming more and more aware that we, the human race, needs to change how we live if the world is to survive, or at least, a world that we can live in, and realising that that change is needed by people like us, even though we’re flat broke and unable to put in many of the changes that would be necessary to make a “carbon neutral” house.
But this isn’t just another self-sufficiency blog; its also about me, my life. I want to share my progress, my triumphs, my failures, in all of my life, not just the green part, although that part is going to be pretty big I think.
Update: April 2011. I figured I really should get around to updating this, as my life has changed a great deal since I began this blog. In many senses, the Urbania to Stoneheads ideal of self sufficiency is not really where I’m going any more. Not because I’ve lost interest, but because other things in my life are taking priority right at the moment. But what it does still represent is a very powerful dream of contentment and happiness, and this blog, as with my life, is all about figuring out how to achieve that contentment and happiness, even if the exact method changes as I figure stuff out.
So… who am I?
I’m 38 years old, living with my partner (Michiel) and our dog, Jess (that’s them in the photo up there, yes, along with me) in a small groundfloor flat in Manchester. I don’t work – am unable to work and so am on disability benefits, but am currently studying part time on an Access to Higher Education course in Ancient History and Archaeology, with a view to starting at University in September 2011, doing a History degree. This is part of my recovery plan for the future! I’m also deaf. Michiel doesn’t work either at the moment, although he’s looking. We’re both technophiles – we have 3 computers in our living room! – although he’s more of a geek than i am. We share a love of sci-fi and fantasy, and have been together for over 8 years now.
As well as the History obsession, and an interest in self-sufficiency and green living, i adore all kinds of food and cooking (and really growing food is an extension of that, isn’t it? and I’d love to get into the whole River Cottage thing too, keeping chickens and having bees, but its just not possible with the size of garden out there!), but also things like sewing and house improvement projects as well as more artistic endeavours such as parchment craft and card making. I don’t claim to know it all, but starting small and working upwards is definitely the way to go…. Only one thing at a time! My studies honestly don’t leave much time for anything else at this point, so everything else is falling by the wayside – even the cooking! Michiel has taken over a lot of that, thankfully. I don’t think I could do this without his support.
This blog has come a long way since it started (in January 2007): when I started, I was quite ill, and could not entertain any ideas of working, the sheer thought turned me into a nervous wreck. But slowly I’ve rebuilt my life. I’m now poised at the brink of taking the biggest adventure yet: returning to full time education. I’ve been studying part time for 8 months now and my life has changed so so much, and for the better. I really could not contemplate to going back to how I used to be. The next few years will see so many changes – moving house (don’t know where yet!), starting at uni, building a whole new life in a whole new city with Michiel and Jess by my side… its exciting and nerve wracking and.. wow! Here’s to the next 4 years!
[Further Edit: November 2014:]
Definitely time to do an update to this “about” page! Well.. where am I now? We’ve been living in Lest-ah (Leicester) for the last 3 years. In fact, we’ve moved twice, once to Leicester, and once within Leicester, about a month ago. Jess is no longer a part of our lives. She died earlier this summer after a long and full life with us. While it was her time to go and we had to let her go, it still hurt and in many ways we are still mourning her. We have decided not to get another dog for the time being but to enjoy a certain amount of freedom for while. I have, however, applied for a hearing dog for the deaf, although the process from application form to actually getting the dog takes around 2 years, I’m told, so its not going to happen any time soon, even if I’m accepted for it.
Other losses in my life have included my father and both my grandmothers, all in the space of a year. That was hard. very hard. I am hanging onto my mother now, very tightly.
Our home is a small three bed – or two bed and a boxroom – house with a small garden. We are still very much in the process of unpacking and getting things straight. The house needs some work – a rewire, at the very least, with all the associated work that comes with that – and the garden needs work too. But it is ours and we’re free to do as we wish with it. We have already redecorated our bedroom and my study (the boxroom) and I loved that whole process, the creation of rooms that I love and feel comfortable in. Both still need some final touches. A work in progress. We have boxes and boxes and boxes still to unpack, but we’ll get there! (At the moment, the Great Quest for the Missing HolePunch is high on my priorities).
I graduated from the University of Leicester with a first class degree last summer. I actually graduated second from the top – the equivalent of Salutatorian, in the US. Not bad going for a mature student who flunked her A levels! I have now started an MA degree, part time, and hope to go on to study for a PhD after that, although getting the funding for that will be very tough. We’ll see. I will soon be working part time – or rather, holding a series of small jobs, I think, as well as volunteering. The life of an academic is thus: lots of demands on very tightly managed time.
I still adore the cooking. I still adore my gardening, although that will probably have to wait a year or two here till we get the house straight. Self-sufficiency has fallen by the wayside for now. I recycle still (Leicester has a great recycling scheme) and still believe in many of the ideas I’ve written about here, but … time is limited. That’s an oft-repeated refrain!
Michiel is still very much in my life. We’ll have been together 12 years in February. That’s a long time – he’s been in my life longer than almost anyone – only my family have been around longer. We’re both still technophiles, with a lot of computers in the house. He is still supportive of my studying. In fact, I couldn’t have done the last three years without his support, and cherish it now. Its not all work though – we do play together as well. We’re both involved in Ingress, much to the disgust and eyerolling of most of our friends. Yes, friends. We’re settled in Leicester. Settling in in the new house, turning it into a home. Prepared to stay here for a few years.
And we are, largely, happy. That the most important part of all.
oh – and any questions – feel free to yell…