Tuesday 1 March 2011

My [not so secret] life ambition

I'm building a village. Making a start - however small and slow - in the field with 'studio bedrooms' for the older children.

What do I mean by 'village'?

A group of families - extensions of my own family, I hope - living together on their own land, each in its own private unit. It has some communal outdoor space, with food growing in and around it and places for children to play together, etc.

Why do I want to build one?

Because it's the key thing that's been missing from my life, and it seems to me like the most sensible way to live. Labour doesn't have to be bought in - it's exchanged and shared freely, especially amongst people who love and trust each other. Childcare in particular is pooled, but I don't think it can rightly be called childcare unless there is that deep, familial bond of love involved - ditto the care of old people. And each other!

Isolated, nuclear family living can be a lonely and stressful business, as can living, traveling and working amongst strangers all the time. I think it does take a village to raise a child, and to educate one, and grow food, and build houses and throw parties and work out ways of becoming collectively safer and stronger. We all probably want to leave the world a better place than we found it, don't we? This is one of my ways of doing so. If I know my loved ones are well provided for physically and psychologically - by means of them having the option of living in this village of mine - I'll die happy.

How on earth does one go about building a village?

Well, I'm not calling it a life ambition for nothing - it seems to be taking my whole life to achieve it. First, I think you probably need to have as many children as possible - which doesn't leave a lot of time in the early years for village-building. So the shared childcare element is a gift for the 2nd generation, not the first one!

Next, home educate all the way: it's great for village building on the principle that wherever you spend your days is the place where you put your energy, which is the place you choose to strengthen. When everyone's out elsewhere all day the family's energy is dissipated - therefore weakened.

Thirdly, a village needs land for building on. This doesn't necessarily need to be *with planning permission*, though we're finding that it's useful to start with at least one pre-established residence which in turn enables the others.

But we've lost our birthright in this country [birthright = enough free land to build a house and support oneself in one's country of birth IMO] so houses, land, living are all expensive things to pay for. The solution to that problem? I can think of a few, though none are perfect:

  • Squatting, though it's probably not very stable/permanent. Ethically justifiable in most cases though, IMO, due to the theft of birthright.

  • Buying, though in most cases this means a mortgage for the first generation which are increasingly difficult to come by and pay for. Also, you usually pay back (over 25 years) at least twice as much as you borrow, though this is mitigated by times of high inflation and low interest. (Like now!) Borrowing so much money (or having to pay so much just for somewhere to live) is never a good thing, but if only one more generation does it (the first one of the village) it can be seen as the lesser of all evils. Plus, village-dwelling adult children will work to help to pay it off so the load is shared between more people.

  • Renting, though again it's not stable. But I guess the village could be a mobile one. Actually yes, traveling together could be another way of building a village. Not my choice, due to the prejudice and uncertainty from which such people suffer, but another way.

Central and local government doesn't really want people to be building villages, I don't think. Strong families make weak governments and vice versa, so it's in the interests of anyone who wants to control and exploit a population to be constantly separating and weakening the family unit, not enabling it to use its own strength and be united. Also strong families do things for each other for free (childcare, plumbing, electrics, computer repair, decorating, building, entertaining, cooking, cleaning, taxiing, admin work) instead of paying other people to do it. So The Man can't get in there and either extract taxes or insert regulation, both of which pay for and justify his own existence.

Governments need to break natural social bonds (the kind that naturally arise between friends and family members - village dwellers!) and build artificial social bridges (what happens in contracts between strangers) to strengthen their own position. But they do this at the expense of their own people, who thrive better (I think) with natural bonds. In villages.

Saturday 22 January 2011

Single parenthood: not a problem!

Some elderly relatives and their friends were dropping heavy hints to me about my single status recently. Apparently I need to be married to give my children stability, even though they've been a hundred times more stable since my divorce than they ever were when I was married.

Being single means I can be in control of the family finances and make sure the bills and mortgage are paid. It means I can focus exclusively on the children and house. We've lived in the same house for fourteen years: two of my children were born here! How much more stable can they get?

They're home educated, so they don't have to change classrooms or schools or deal with a new teacher every year. They've attended the same home ed meeting with the same crowd of people, give or take a few, for as long as they can remember.

Stability was what I wanted for them, and is one of the main reasons I choose to stay single. Single doesn't mean promiscuous, or weak, or fickle, or vulnerable. On the contrary in my case and in most other cases, I imagine: to be a single parent you have to be strong, independent and self-reliant.

I can't see how moving a stepdad in for my children is going to enhance their stability at all.

The people in question used examples of people who "got married eventually" (to any old taker, as far as I could make out!) "So they were alright in the end." But I can't for the life of me work out why being married makes a person "alright" and being single makes them "unstable". These values went largely unquestioned by the group in the room and I wasn't given the chance to ask my questions and demand answers. They just wanted to get their message across to me: I should be married.

I still don't know why.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Message to my 'Off-Blog' readers

That blog's settings are now on 'private' instead of being a public blog with passworded posts, but of course you're welcome to keep reading. If you aren't registered with Wordpress, you can get a name and password here. Email your registered Wordpress name to me and I'll add you to the list of readers. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Natural living, natural learning

Events have conspired to largely keep me away from the computer in recent weeks, which I originally viewed as a curse but now see more as a blessing. Certainly, it's been an education. We've been very busy: two of the teenagers have been away on camping and hiking trips with their friends and the business has been growing as usual. (I must blog about that - I see that I haven't for quite a while!) and the children have been as active and inquisitive as ever.

We settled into a natural rhythm of living, learning and just getting on with things together. I can understand why most people don't bother with blogging or any kind of online social networking: when you've got a few children and an offline social life to keep up with, as well as all of us doing our own studying etc, it's enough. I could withdraw very easily from the online world, though I'd miss the many friends I've met here.

But I don't, because I like having the outlet when I've got something to say! And what I'm trying to say here is that learning, like life, does not need to be externally regulated. This is what's kept coming back to me as I've been cleaning, playing, reading, cooking, washing, chatting, wrestling with tents and so on. Everything gets done, even though nobody is standing over me with a big stick, making sure I do it. Educating my children is a natural instinct, just like wanting to learn is for them.

But it's more than that: this unregulated family life that so many people seem to be so afraid of, is far from degenerative chaos. It's not always peaceful, perfect and harmonious but enough of it is to make the whole thing precious and special, to keep it safe and to protect it from invasion.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

"It's like magic falling from the sky!"

So said Lyddie about the snow. We get so little of it around here that the younger two have never seen it before in any real quantities.

It's the fine, powdery stuff - very beautiful, but no good for snowman making. Good for sledging though!

The baby seemed bewildered. Very quiet and contemplative. I took her down the hill on the sledge, sitting in front of me and going quite fast and she still kept quiet, until I asked her if she liked it, and got a definite "Yes."

We went shopping for essential food supplies, but struggled to get the car back up the last bit of the hill, which is uncleared and ungritted, so I think we're staying put now until the thaw! Not that I'm complaining.

Sunday 25 January 2009

I've been tagged

..by the Baroness, to tell you eight random facts about me.

Hmmm. I've done this before (here and here) so will try not to duplicate.

Here goes:

  1. My hair is falling out! It happens with every baby and carries on until I stop breastfeeding. It's always grown back before. Here's hoping..!

  2. I always wanted five children - specifically two older boys followed by three younger girls, and that's exactly what I've got.

  3. I love to ice-skate, swim, do lots of physical things like that, but rarely get chance nowadays. Hopefully when the younger children are a bit older..

  4. I'm a complete Tolkien-head. Tell me you didn't know that!

  5. I'm drinking a lot of red bush tea and Barleycup these days instead of tea and coffee. Fascinating!

  6. Err... three more... struggling... OK. I can play the piano, but don't, because I'm not really interested in doing so.

  7. I have a few (ahem!) childhood issues, related to things like number 6!

  8. I write better than I speak.

Now for the rules and my turn to tag:

1. Each blogger starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

3. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged and to read your blog.

5. For the recipients, leave a comment for the person who tagged you, so they can go and read your answers.

I'll be tagging...

Mrs Darcy - just because she's lovely!
Min - because we've missed her while she's been offline!
Clare - because she might need a quick change from all her valliant home ed-based blogging!
Lotusbirther - because I suspect she might be a tag-virgin ;-)
Grit - what reason could I need? Gotta love Grit.
Mamacrow - because it's bound to be fascinating.
And Allie and Dani because hopefully at least one of them has time for this, and they count as two!

Thursday 8 January 2009

Things it's taken me 40 years to learn

  • How to use a solid fuel stove, without relighting it every day.

  • I am not a car mechanic.

  • My mother will never change.

  • Some other people do and can change, but not all that much.

  • Being supremely tolerant is not always the best strategy.

  • Moderation.

  • My body is too fertile to ever have sex again.

  • Men do not, by and large, want children. Until they've got them (sometimes), which either therefore never happens, or is often too late.

  • Even if they deny the above, it's still true.

  • Other people can do the washing-up.

  • Yes, I really do need to keep the place tidy, at least sometimes, and am not ashamed to admit it.

  • I can no longer stay slim and live on mince pies. With brandy butter.

  • Sometimes people are friendly for the wrong reasons and actually, those people aren't usually worth keeping as friends.

Things I learned more quickly than that:

  • Money can't buy you love, or much else except stuff that all needs tidying up.

  • It doesn't matter who does the work, as long as it gets done.

  • Antidepressants, antibiotics, contraceptives and other Smarties-from-doctors-that-make-drug-companies-rich, are not for me thank you very much.

  • Homeopathy works, but some people will never be convinced of that fact.

  • Health and happiness go hand in hand.

  • Sleep is good.

  • Some friendships last forever.

  • Time and freedom are worth more than money.

  • Debt is bad.

  • Children are the most valuable asset a person could have, but only if you commit to them instead of your career/social life/travel plans/religion, etc.

  • World of Warcraft is addictive. (I broke the habit 2 years ago.)

  • When my middle daughter tells me it's time to stop blogging and get ready to go out, she's usually right.