Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Making sacrifices

I knew with our no spend year, there would be sacrifices to make. It's not until you're actually experiencing the highs and lows of not spending however, that you can start to make concrete judgments about what your *real* expenses are.

There have been many layers to this no spend challenge. Simply choosing not to spend money on luxuries is an obvious first layer. The second layer has been about rebuilding our relationships with each other, now that we no longer have the distraction of spending. The third layer, has been about redefining our expenses.

Three months into our no-spend year, I'm starting to reconsider some expenses.

A pumpkin flower after the rain

We all need electricity and water - that's a given. We pretty much need a telephone too - in case of emergencies. But the internet has been a luxury we've pandered to for quite a while. When I first started our blog, we were on "dial-up", the very inferior cousin to high speed broadband. It wasn't long until I realised with all my photos, that I could probably do with broadband.

Everyone was talking about broadband at the time - how much easier and faster it was to use. I still held off from getting the more expensive broadband connection however, until our daughter started school. I wanted to be contactable during the day (in case there were emergencies) and we were in a "black-spot" for mobile coverage in the house - so I had another, more important reason to get broadband then.

So we did, and for over two years, it's been great. I can jump on the computer without having to interfere with our phone connection.

Fast forward to now however, where I'm doing home education at home - and where I shouldn't be on the internet for most part of the day anyway. With March being a big bills month for us, I had to look at our internet issue again. I mean, how much do I value speed on the internet, to paying off our debts?

We have the money for broadband, but do we really have to spend $30 extra for internet speed per month? I've compared dial-up to broadband, and we could stand to save $300 per year, if we used the inferior cousin. I know it's slower. I know it can make you want to pull your hair out sometimes. I know it's inconvenient when you receive incoming calls that can't get through.

I know all these things, but the $300 savings is staring me in the face, without a genuine reason to keep the broadband anymore. It's time for a sacrifice. It's time to make a concrete decision about what's more important in life - internet speed or paying off our mortgage?

No-one can make this decision but us. It's our unique circumstances that brought the issue of broadband into question again. I've actually been trying to stay away from technology in favour of spending time with our family anyway. It really seemed like a hollow pursuit (technology) when you can't spend money on DVD rentals, or buying new gadgets for the garden and kitchen.

Don't get me wrong - technology is a wonderful time saver in many pursuits. But with our no spend year, the focus has changed from what has always gotten us by, to what do we really need to get by.

Dave and I have decided we're going to ditch the broadband, in favour of cheaper dial-up. We'll have to get smarter at when and how we use the internet. Early mornings is where we'll start, so the phone line will be open to receive calls during the day. I'll schedule my internet time, like I would cleaning or homeschooling - making it a part of my day, not all of my day.

I've noticed with broadband, I'll have it on all day to receive any emails. Espeically when it comes to publishing your lovely comments to my blog. I don't like to keep people waiting if I can help it. But in a very subtle way, the focus of internet usage has seeped into my life as if it was running it. While I like the speed and convenience of broadband, it has opened my conscience to suggestion, that maybe I need to justify the cost - maybe I need to use it all the time. Maybe it's more important than the rest of my life?

I can still have a blog, I can still use the internet - but it has to be shaped to our family's needs.

On the plus side, I'll be taking moderation off your comments so you no longer have to wait for me to publish them. I'll check all comments during my scheduled internet time, and delete those purely promoting spam. I've wanted to protect you lot from spammers, but I guess it's part of the internet world. I'll deal with them as I come to them, rather than putting your valuable thoughts on hold to deal with them.

We're all mature adults who navigate the world wide web daily...we know what a spam comment looks like. Please avoid them if they pop up from time to time. :)

A pumpkin harvest - a store of energy - human labour and food

On the whole, our no-spend year challenge is doing well. We're focusing on the lessons rather than purely the money. It's great to have savings, but I find it's our old natures, which seriously threaten any gains. It requires a new nature, or the savings don't stick and the debt inevitably blows out somewhere else.

It's quite a juggling act, trying to figure out what should be spent one week to the next. This has threatened to do my head in many times. I've wanted to be discouraged - I mean, what's it all for, if I can't manage to save money this month? The new nature comes in when I realise it's not just about saving money. It's about realising what's better about me as a human being. What did I evaluate? What did I carry? What did I drop? When did I take time to be an organic human being with other important organics - human, plant or animal?

Money and technology are lovely additions to life, but for our family today, they have been an unconscious distraction from bigger responsibilities too. Growing our minds, for example. Growing our compassion and generosity bank too. Focusing just on money, can make me short tempered and unreasonable - it's ugly, LOL.

But you know what, as a person, I can grow. Just like my daughter and garden too. Money is not a reflection of my growth, no matter what I choose to spend on or not - from this month or the next.

So I'm actually wondering at this point, what I'm sacrificing? Internet speed? Technology? Options? As long as I don't sacrifice my ability to grow, or others, then what have I lost of value?

Your greatest investment in life is life...keep investing, no matter what. :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New kids accessory

It's called a giggle-chick. Simply attach the chick to your kid's shoulder and wait for the giggling to commence. Minutes of non-stop fun to be had by all. Chicks even get to explore the tangles of whispy hair for a tasty ear to nibble.

Advisory warning: beware the poop! Batteries not included.

The sourdough "starter"

A recipe for sourdough starter is but a few clicks away on the computer. I'll share a few with you first up, so you can learn a bit more about sourdough.

This is where I got my first starter recipe from. A good overall description of the sourdough making process too. This is an Australian site with a starter recipe, where I found the description of filling jars educational, but the recipe itself was too wet. I also thought Wikibooks did a great write-up on sourdough too.

The above is where I began my education on sourdough starters, but there's nothing like jumping in and trying it yourself. I tweaked a little with both recipies and here's what I did:

DAY 1: Mix 1/2 cup flour to 3/4 cup warm water, into a glass bowl. Cover with a tea towel and stir 3 to 4 times during the day (don't use steel utensils).

DAYS 2 & 3: Add 1 tablespoon of warm water and 1 tablespoon of flour, continue to cover and stir during the day.

DAY 4-5: Put half the mixture into a clean glass bowl and discard or cook with the other half. (Pancakes make a good use of the left overs). To the glass bowl, add 1/2 cup warm water and 1/2 cup flour. Mix in and stir several times during the day.

DAY 6-7: Repeat day 4-5, only increase the flour and water mixture to 1 cup each.

**You only need to change containers on day 3, 5 and 7**

By day seven the starter should be ready to use. A good indicator, is after feeding it on day 7, mark the jar with a rubber band (see picture below) and if it doubles within a few hours, then you've got a working leaven.

 It more than doubled on day 7 after feeding, so it's alive!!

Now remember, you'll come across all sorts of starter recipies. This is just the one I began with and it worked for me - in autumn. Seasonal and climate differences, may call for altering the recipe somewhat. The consistency of your starter should be like thick custard, but light enough to stir without breaking utensils.

When it comes to making the bread with your starter, I like to use the "sponge" method, which I'll explain in another post.

Some important points to note about making your "starter" though, is to avoid plastic and metal if you can. I try to use glass containers and bowls, but I stir with a plastic whisk and spatula.

They say metal can taint the taste of sourdough starter, and in some cases effect the biological reaction required for an active culture. One of the reasons to avoid plastic if you can too. As long as they're clean and at room temperature however, I can't see the harm in using plastic for stirring for short periods. Wooden spoons can harbour bad bacteria if not thoroughly cleaned, so to me at least, plastic utensils are the lessor evil.

A basic tool kit for making your starter is:

2 large glass or ceramic bowls
a plastic whisk and/or plastic spatula
measuring cups and spoons
a clean tea towel
a large glass (or 2) jar for the final product

It's easier if you work with two bowls, so you can transfer the mix easily. The glass jar is for after you've made your starter and want to keep it on the bench (or fridge) for feeding. You will need to either puncture a hole in the lid of your jar, or do as I do, and put cling-wrap on top, held in place with a rubber band, with fine holes punched through the top.

You can do all of the mixing in jars if you don't have bowls, but I just find the bowls are easier to use when you're doing all that mixing to get the leaven working. The reason you have to stir consistently, is to stop the flour from settling on the bottom, and introduce as much oxygen to the mix as possible.

A note on water - try to use clean, filtered, rain water if available. If you are going to use town cholrinated water, boil it and let it come to room temperature - which should generally be 24 hours. I like to use warm water when mixing, but not boiling. You should be able to keep your finger in the water for a minute, without removing it, to know you've gotten the right temperature. Excessive heat will kill off all your hard work.

One more important note about making starter which bears mentioning - try to avoid chemicals when cleaning your jars, bowls and utensils. Plain, warm water and vigorous rubbing with a cloth, should be enough. If rinsing with town water and using the bowl immediately, try swishing some boiled water in it first - to remove any residues.

If it all sounds too hard for making bread, just remember it's only for a week! Once you have your starter activated, you only need to feed it and change jars every now and then.

I feed my starter daily, as I'm using it daily - plus I leave it at room temperature so it will feed more during the day, than say if I kept it in the fridge where the activity is significantly reduced.

Anyway, I hope that helps simplify the process a little more. I was intimidated at first, but found in autum at least - very little, if anything, went wrong. If I was making my starter in winter, maybe I'd have to extend it to 10 days before using. I've read you can keep it warm in an esky with a warm wheat-pack though. So just tweak and see what works for you.

Sourdough, my new best friend

 Vienna loaf

I have now discovered how to make light, fluffy bread like I used to make at the bakery when I worked there. They had the best tasting bread, and I guess I was secretly trying to measure my breadmaking to their standard.

Little did I realise the trick to such awesome tasting bread was fresh yeast - or leavning. Although it doesn't automatically come to mind when you hear the word "sourdough" and awesome tasting bread in the same sentence. But it doesn't taste "sour" in the final baked product at all. It's sweet and light instead.

So what is sourdough? Well it's just flour, water and air which you grow and feed into a leaven, or culture over the period of a week or more. Then you add it to your flour and other ingredients, to make your bread dough. I'll describe the process of making your "starter" for sourdough in another post, but for now I want to impress the importance of breakmaking on a whole other level. Making bread with a living culture is such a simple process, that it's been used for thousands of years without the need for technical equipment or refrigerators.

I've read heaps of literature advising sourdough culture can live in the fridge successfully, but as I'm using it daily, it now lives on the kitchen bench permanently. It doesn't get a chance to make it to the fridge. As a result, my whole house always smells like bread too. I have the culture on the bench, I normally have a bread proving during the morning too, until it goes into the oven to bake.

Fruit buns

I've made different types of loaves, as well as fruit buns with sourdough. Every single batch has been successful and the dough extremely forgiving. The flavour has always been rich (devoid of the pungeant yeast flavour you get with the dried stuff) and the texture has always been light and fluffy too.

What an extremely versatile and forgiving dough - the sourdough. That's why I call it my new best friend. It lives on my kitchen bench, I feed it daily and it feeds us daily. How can I go back to dried yeast now? How amazing that I don't have to buy the expensive stuff again either. Flour water and air is all great bread needs.

It's simplified my shopping list too. Rainwater comes out of the tap, air is everywhere and I only have to buy flour in bulk. Of course there's also salt, sugar and oil involved for the bread recipe itself - but they're always at hand for cooking anyway. The only extra thing I have to buy for breadmaking is unbleached baker's flour.

Bye-bye dried yeast - you're now obsolete!

My new best friend has changed my whole attitude towards making bread. It's not just a final product any more. It's an ever evolving, continually feeding product - kind of like human beings. I now look forward to seeing my culture in the morning (how are you growing) and then making the various breads (yum - can't wait to taste it). But there's always left over culture to feed again, so the process doesn't end.

On a personal note, I've found the sourdough a lot easier to digest too. I don't feel bloated when I eat bread now. My stomach doesn't inflate with air either. The one problem with my new friend, is learning to limit how much bread we eat, LOL. Between the three of us, we can polish off a loaf in a day - the fruit buns are all but gone too!

Don't worry though, I won't keep my new best friend all to myself. I'll share how to make your very own starter and post my recipes soon. If you only ever do it once in your lifetime, give sourdough a try and see if you notice the difference.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The secret to better bread

I've been on a baking spree lately - determined to bake the perfect loaf. It seemed no matter how many recipes I followed however, or the myriad of techniques, I always ended up with woeful results. Oh sure, it looked like bread, but it tasted like heavy and dense yeast!

Don't believe me? Compare the results for yourselves!! Below is a loaf I made yesterday (right) and a loaf I made today (left).

What did I do differently? Unbleached flour. It actually allows the yeast to do it's job properly, which is lift the dough to twice it's size. Normal flour (although not marked "bleached" in the list of ingredients) will counteract the yeast, and defy the biological reaction required for making bread. That's what bleaching does to flour. It kills off the vital living components needed.

Did you know that unless labeled "unbleached", chances are, the flour listed on the packets ingredients, has been bleached.

Not very good if you're attempting to bake bread as good as the local bakery. But isn't a freshly baked loaf of bread, a thing of beauty when done right?

Figuring out exactly how to get the perfect loaf, can be a bit of a mystery though. I have to let you in on a little secret however. I used to be a bakery assistant many years ago. Surprising? Well, you have to do something for a crust! (*wink-wink*) Seriously though, we used something called "bakers flour" in the bakery, and I always wondered what was so different about it. Something magical must have been in there, because I could never bake things as nice at home, as I could in the bakery.

Being a bakery assistant and not a trade-qualified (TQ) baker however, I didn't understand much of what I was doing. It all just came in bags and I put it together the way the TQ bakers told me to. It all seemed to work exactly how they said it would too. So why-o-why couldn't I get the same results at home?

I'll tell you why. Plain flour. It's actually labeled a flour, but I doubt very little of the whole food required to be classed as one, is present. That's really why two distinct types of flour have emerged. Labeled either, "bakers flour" or, "plain flour". I'm sure you've seen both on your supermarket shelves. Baker's flour is meant to have magical voodoo powers that turn average kitchen cooks into budding professional bakers. Plain flour is for people on a budget. Who would actually know the difference of what goes into them however?

Isn't flour just flour? Well, in our dumbed down, in the name of profit, society, flour is the sole ownership of the flour producing companies. They can put whatever they want in it, and you as the consumer, pay more or less for the kinds of results you want in your kitchen. If you want great bread, pay for the "bakers flour" with the picture of a golden loaf on the front. If you want great pancakes, pay for the "pancake mix" in the convenient plastic pouring bottle.

Have you smelled flour that is alive when you cook with it? It's a thing of beauty. All living things are. But if you've never used whole foods before, you will always fall short of the mark. Bakers flour is just code for real ground wheat that will work as a living product should. And bread is a living product.

I guess I've had the luxury of working in a bakery however, and that really gave me the input to not just make bread, but also feel the tactile pleasure of yeast and flour, wofting smells and finally the satisfaction of a customer as they approached the counter - wanting the freshest loaf you could put in a bag, that didn't burn straight through it.

I felt that same sensation this morning, when both my daughter and I marveled at a magical golden loaf that somehow came out of our oven. There was nothing magical about it's creation however, we've known for centuries how to make bread - but our flour has gone into the hands of professional marketers who want to provide a value added "packet of solutions", that really just comes from less processed foods.

Yet they still sell us the powdery artificial residue (ie: plain flour) at a cheaper price. I wonder why? Make of it what you will. ;)

My advice, next time you're looking for a mid-range but not heavily processed flour option for bread making purposes - look to the very bottom shelves, where you'll see bulk flour often labeled, "unbleached".

I recently purchased 5kg of unbleached bakers flour for $10 (AUD) which works out to about $2 per kilogram. The best flour to use is the stuff you grind yourself, but I think that takes a particular dedication not all of us can adopt. Pricing of grain mills being one major hurtle.

But "I" don't want to kid you either...there's a lot of practice involved in making a good loaf of bread too. Patience is a vital ingredient, and it's free - but you need plenty of it if you are to get anywhere making bread. Just don't necessarily fall for the marketing of "bakers flour", when it's basically just less processed flour with fewer chemical additives. Organic doesn't necessarily mean unbleached either. Make sure it says organic AND unbleached.

The list of ingredients I had on my bulk purchase of flour recently, was unbleached wheaten flour and thiamine. While it sounds so simple, the results speak for themselves.

Makes you wonder why they sell the other stuff? Being cheaper doesn't necessarily mean it works, or even that it can be classed as a proper food group. Now that I've gotten reacquainted with my unbleached bakers flour however, I can see me using it for practically everything. I may even start getting lighter pancakes again!

Can't you just smell it now...?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chicken fever...again

Some have already arrived, but there are more in the incubator - baby chicks that is! The first batch brought seven babies, and the second batch I have yet to candle. But the chicks will be two weeks old this weekend!

So fluffy and cute...I especially like the barnevelder/welsummer crossed with araucana. For a cross, their feathers are a lot more marked than their barny/welsummer mums were, when they were chicks. I was surprised by that.

Out of this batch we got four crosses and three pure araucana. As you can see in the picture above, I'm sure we have two hens and two cockerels with the crosses. If you see the two hens facing each other, they have their shoulder feathers coming in, while the two other crosses (boys) have only their wing tip feathers. Girls have a habit of feathering up quicker than boys, but this is not the case with every breed. We'll have to see if my estimations are correct.

I think I may have only one hen out of the araucanas though. Albeit, sexing araucanas isn't something I've had much practice at yet. I think the boys have longer necks and bigger hairdo's than the girls. Again, I'll have to wait and see.

Of the other chicks I hatched prior to this batch, I wasn't able to keep them. I reached a point of overload when I began running out of places to put them all. I put it down to poor planning on my part, but I was fortunate to find potential new homes for them in groups.

You will be happy to note however, that I didn't have any problems with araucana chicks getting crooked neck, this time around. I deliberately kept the temperature on the incubator bellow the recommended 37.7 degrees Celsius. I was happy for it to range between 36.9 and 37.7, and got great results.

So it's true what I read, that it's less dangerous to go slightly lower than the recommended temperature, than to go even just a fraction of a degree higher. I reckon that's what was affecting my araucana chicks - it was too hot for them and it affected their development.

I'll have to see what the next batch brings at the end of the month. Not to worry about space though. I'm getting set-up before they arrive, so I won't have chicks coming out my ears again!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Our backyard...

It's STILL raining here - two weeks and the weather bureau is predicting more. Our bush block hasn't seen this much rain in decades. Literally. Even though we've not lived here that long, we've lived in the area for over a decade. Seriously though, as wet as it is, it also makes for a wonderful change. The land needed it.

Anyway, we got a break in the weather yesterday afternoon, so I decided to see how the water was flowing on the block. We have several gullies cross-crossing the block, which naturally deals with the run-off. I've never actually seen them flowing up-close, because until now, all our large rain events have only fallen within 24 hours. So the run-off is often gone before I can get out with the camera.

But on my recent hike in our backyard, it was a wonderful discovery of miniature waterfalls and changing hues of wet bark and foliage.

This is part of our sand-pit, run off area. The erosion has cut out a miniature waterfall that sounds absolutely delightful when it's running. Although we're not too keen on further erosion, we understand this is a natural part of the lands ability to cope with large water events. One such strategy, is to cut a meandering path through the block, to help slow down the flow of water.

This is part of the reason we're not in a hurry to remove the lantana bushes. Not until we've added more plant life to hold the banks together at least. Otherwise, it would only take a few heavy falls to wipe out most of the soil from this area. If you notice above, on one side, Dave has cut the grass, and the other is left to grow naturally. Our intention is to plant both sides of the banks with reeds and rushes, so we can eventually remove the lantana and keep all the grass mowed.

It's not that we're particularly fussy about mowed lawns, but we are fussy about seeing snakes before we stick a ruddy great big foot on them, LOL. Fortunately we've only encountered green tree snakes so far, but I'm happy for the brown and black snakes (neighbours have reported on their blocks) staying a mystery to us.

The above image is where the run-off leaves our property, behind that lovely thicket of shrubs. This is what we call our recharge area though - which means whenever there is too much water to get through, it spills over the bank and has more time to soak into the sand. While it looks like a creek bed, it's not actually a creek. It's just the accumulation of silt over the seasons, where soil erosion from up stream, ends up sitting here.

To show you how a recharge area works, the image below is to the left of the above image. It's where the water has spilled over and is soaking into the recharge area. And yes, it was the same area, a reader dubbed an interview area. Hi mountainwildlife, how bizarre is that interview set-up now, LOL?

Here is the same spotted gum tree, as well...only it's bark has changed colour in the wet. You can see it's almost completed it's annual shedding of flaking bark, having grown another foot or two, no doubt!

The spotted gum is a native here. Not surprising since it doesn't require a great soil to grow in, and recovers quickly from bushfire. We get several species of native trees here, but the spotted gum would have to be the quickest grower so is more common. They're quite a large tree too, around 30 or more metres in height.

While we're looking at bark though, here is my favourite tree. It's an Ironbark with thick, robust bark. Being a hardwood, they take longer to grow than the spotted gum, but their width is something else to behold. I love that this tree is part of our backyard, and as long as we're living here, it will stay.

Still on the subject of trees though, here is a reminder of the 2003 bushfire, which came through this area - two years before we bought the place. There are a few black tree stumps like this one, and even a few hollowed out trees (no branches).

I'm in awe how rain makes the black charcoal of the stump, stand out more - and there are even plants growing in the middle of it. To the left is some moss too, all part of nature's big recycling project! Even when something dies, a useful job is found for it.

I love how the rain brings new life with it too. All these green sprouts have popped up through the natural layer of mulch nature provided. Even this native grass is sporting a new shade of green, from some of the brown ones already dying off.

This is not a very good picture (below) but this is another gully that runs down one of our south facing slopes. The miniature waterfall trickled and it sounded so beautiful. One of our future aspirations, is to green these particular gullies. We have another gully on the opposite side - both running down into the sand-pit.

We would love to have tree ferns and all manner of rain-forest foliage, planted here. It would be such a haven for the green tree frogs, dwarf tree frogs and green tree snakes. Of course, the gullies only flow in heavy rain, but with enough plant material, it should generate enough humus to keep the plants moist in drier times.

Peeking through the trees in our backyard, we can see the back of our house again. I remember when we used to drive to our block to visit, and imagine our house sitting there. We'd say to each other, "imagine when all this becomes our backyard". Wow, how did it happen so fast!

Seasons change, plants grow and die, that's what I love most about our backyard. We play with a very small portion of it, but nature does all the rest. Most of the photos you've seen today are, "as is". In other words, we haven't interfered with nature's original design. Of course, the surrounding landscape is always changing - depending what the neighbours and local council are doing. Because what happens up-stream, always effects what happens here. So in a way, I suppose it's not entirely a la naturale.

One last photo before I go though...this is technically our backyard. Or the civilised section we've managed to tame. The house is just up the top of that bank, and below (in the distance) you can see our wedding "wishing well". This was made for us, so that guests at our wedding could place cards inside. We got some lovely gifts of money too. Nothing enormous, but it was enough to help contribute for the next phase of our life.

So I think it's fitting I make this the last photo of our backyard. It all contributed to finally bringing us here. Maybe we can do some good in future? I hope we can.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Being considerate

The rain has me inside again - it's been like this for a few days now. I'm not complaining, as I've recently planted some seedlings in the garden which are absolutely loving these conditions.

But I've done a lot of cleaning and I will probably start a new dishcloth today, so I'm left with enough time, to write about something that's been on my mind lately. Consideration. How much consideration do you give any situation you find yourself in?

Two more dishcloths to add to the collection

Funnily enough, I was going to make this post about my working class background (ie: feeling guilty for owning anything indulgent) but it didn't feel quite right somehow. For as much as my attitude towards possessions came through my working class/edge of poverty background, what has been on my mind lately was more than that. It was about weighing up any decision I make, against a scale of understanding.

Now I could have said, moral code, or weighing my decisions against an ethical blueprint. But even that seemed a little dodgy to me. I mean, how do I know it's moral or ethical? Is it because I found the right amount of justification, or a lot of people seem to agree with me? The simple truth is, I can only make decisions, against a scale of understanding I've arrived at to date.

If you're wondering where this is coming from, it all started when we broke our pledge to the no-spend year, by purchasing plants at the nursery recently. There was nothing really sinister about that - we did have the money and it was a wise investment - so why was I feeling so guilty about it?

This led me to consider my working class/edge of poverty background. I say, "edge of poverty", because I was raised by a single parent who worked for a minimum wage, and the government pension for sole parents (back then) wasn't enough to live on. Needless to say, I learned a lot about frugal living from my mum. I also learned a love of gardening too. It didn't matter where we lived, we were always looking for a place to plant something.

So here in lies my dilemma...a love of gardening drew me to purchase the plants recently, but we are attempting to live more frugally for a greater good too. Both ideologies (enjoyment and sacrifice) seemed to clash in one decision. Result...guilt!

Since then, my mind has been occupied with a desperate attempt to locate a "repair patch". Like when your antivirus program realises it's vulnerable to attack, and the kind programmers develop a repair patch to fix it. For without the repair patch, the whole system becomes defunct. And when I mean defunct, we can hardly throw a whole human being into the trash when they start reading "error" messages in their Central Processing Unit, can we?

I hope it doesn't come to that, because I happen to think I'm a very useful model of human and could even become a vintage collectible one day. But I digress, I first needed to address this error in my programming. How do I do that?

Well it leads me to the very title of this entry - being considerate. An act of consideration would allow me to accept, it wasn't weakness on my part for purchasing the plants. It may have been spontaneous and derived from desire - but these are not bad things of themselves. They only become bad when they start overruling every other part of your thinking. I would know it is bad for example, if I wasn't able to pay my bills or meet my responsibilities because of those desires.

What dirty laundry? I'm clean, I tell you!

Still, financial ability, has always hinged on the unpredictable nature of the future too. For example, what if a series of events took all our money away from us - events no-one could have predicted? Does that mean we spend the entire 20 years it takes to pay back the mortgage, never spending for pleasure?

We need to operate under a certain amount of ignorance, dare I say, over-confidence, that the future will be manageable. Even if it's not perfect, it can be managed nonetheless. It doesn't mean only living for desire, or only living to an exact moral code either. It means considering that both ideologies will clash at times, so neither one should rule indefinitely.

For without consideration, what is morality and justice anyway?

Maybe as a society, we have to work harder on encouraging consideration towards others too. Our social dialogue and attraction to opinions about certain kinds of people, doesn't do us any favours sometimes. Perhaps it's not enough to teach people they're wrong and everything they do is wrong. Humans can be great self-regulators, if they're taught how to be accepting of themselves and others. By "great", I guess I mean, moderate, too.

Constantly going from one extreme to another, doesn't allow time for consideration...and that's where we really get our understanding from. Through consideration. Believe me though, it's easier to read about than implement. No one is perfect!

That means, you and me. But it's still worth considering all the same....