Friday, March 1, 2013

Living on "love and the good will of others" Ugh!

When I see a story that begins: “How this family lives with no money,” my mind  jumps around like a toddler on a sugar high.  Yes, yes, I want to try that, too.  I found out that Mr. & Mrs. Fellmer live in Berlin on nothing but “love and the good will of others.” First, I could not live on love because then you have to be involved with people (some of whom you don’t know).  I could not live on “good will” either. Because of some deficiency in myself, I am not attracted to “good will” people. When Hayden Panettiere was all upset about the dolphins and whales and was riding on one and crying I wanted to say “Just shut up. Come home and go do a movie or something.”  The PETA people scare the heck out of me. Living on the good will of others would be off limits for me.  I can’t even accept a birthday gift gracefully.
I’m thinking I was meant to admire this family but they are not passing my sniff test.  The wife is getting a little something from the government for her child and the husband is doing it because “money is hampering our dreams.”  I have never had money hamper my dreams.  My craziness hampers my dreams.
This couple lives rent free with roommates in Peace House in exchange for odd jobs and organizing work.  This would not work for me. Roommates?  I can hardly willingly have guests for more than forty-five minutes. The most impressive thing I read was that they managed to get a dentist to fix their teeth for free. The one thing that scares me - it used to be the plumbing bill - it is hands down the dental bill.
Maybe they raked the dentist’s yard in exchange.  I would have to have a lot to drink before I went into my dentist’s office and offered to rake his leaves in exchange for a veneer or two. (still it would be interesting to see his facial expression). Fellmer admits his lifestyle is radical, explaining that it’s to get his message across. “Not everybody needs to do this to such an extreme. This is for protest. We want to inspire people to think about changes they can make. There are so many tools out there, so many ways to reduce one's carbon footprint.”  I have never fully understood the phrase “carbon footprint”.  I know carbon paper was what you used to make copies before the invention of the duplicating machine.  And I know carbon dioxide is a silent, odorless killer that comes stealing in like the fog on “little cat feet” when you leave the car running in a closed garage.  Something tells me it is probably black....oh heck I’m going to look it up right now.
A carbon footprint has historically been defined as "the total sets of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, event, product or person."[1]
However, calculating the total carbon footprint is impossible due to the large amount of data required and the fact that carbon dioxide can be produced by natural occurrences.
Fellmer is a full time activist on waste and overconsumption. He says too much food gets thrown away.  Now that is absolutely true.  When I buy a big pork loin, I know I’ve made a pact with society to cook that piece of meat and to do it to the best of my ability.  When I get it home I begin to wish I had left it in the case with its brothers rather than have to get out the roasting pan and peel some carrots and apples and onions and sear the meat in a hot frying pan before transferring it to the roaster and finishing it off in the oven. I could have just defrosted a pizza without all that other stuff.   About two o’clock the next day, I am tired of eating roast loin of pork and dream about getting a pizza but then I think it’s wasteful to throw this meat away and Fellmer isn’t around so I can foist it off on him.  You’d think I’d stop buying meat when it winks at me in the case, but then stop spraying me with subliminal “buy” incense when I enter the store. We are programmed to buy too much and over-consume.  It’s not our fault.  Why doesn’t Fellmer protest about packaged produce.  I buy the ready washed salad greens in the plastic tubs even though it’s like a shell game to choose one that is free of slimy parts. So, yes, I throw the good parts away with the slimy parts.  Mr. Fellmer will be happy to know there are cans of black beans in my pantry with expiration dates that have long passed. Whenever there is a “pantry” drive for the needy in my neighborhood, I don’t like what I see in the basket.  Usually it’s carbohydrate-laden stuff that nobody wants to eat: canned vegetables or canned ravioli.  I’m thinking if I was given this basket filled with packaged mixes for corn bread and canned string beans or lima beans, I would shoot myself.  Give me a fresh rotisseried chicken or Dover sole almondine or a medley of freshly steamed broccoli and cauliflower with butter/garlic sauce. 
Okay, I’m done with this story.


  1. I have here a special issue of Mother Earth News, the magazine I buy when I wish I could become a farmer and need to have my mind changed. (It's so much work.) It's a guide to Self-Reliance, and there's a couple who live off of 4K a year. I thought it'd be inspiring, but it was depressing to think I'd have to have clothing exchange parties or learn to sew a dress by hand from used fabric. (I don't have a sewing machine.) Other stuff I already did, like washing clothes in cold water - well, the darks, anyway. But I'd still love to live off 4K a year.

    1. Ditto everything you said especially the clothing exchange parties. Why not spend the time making a little moolah and still wash the clothes in cold water.