Guest post at Self Reliance Exchange

I was invited to write a guest post for Self Reliance Exchange and was pleased to give them Find Your Self-Sufficient Sweet Spot.

There’s a reason we don’t see more self-sufficiency: It’s not frugal. It almost always takes more time to make something than it takes to earn enough money to buy one—and that’s without even considering the time it takes to learn the skills (let alone the cost of tools and materials). On the other hand, frugality is a powerful enabler for self-sufficiency. So, how do you find the sweet spot?

My wife spins and weaves. I have a beautiful sweater that she hand knit from hand spun yarn. It’s wonderful—and it’s comforting to know that my household is not only self-sufficient in woolens, we produce a surplus that we can sell or trade. But the fact is you can buy a perfectly good sweater at Wal-Mart for less than the cost of the yarn to knit it.

There’s a lot of useful tips and trick for living a more self-sufficient life at the Self Reliance Exchange. Totally aside from my article there, it’s worth checking them out.

[Updated 2011-03-11: Self Reliance Exchange no longer seems to exist and its successor site no longer seems to be using my post. Rather than just let it disappear, I’ve republished it here.]

Burial instructions

At brunch yesterday the topic of burial instructions came up, and I was surprised to discover that Jackie didn’t remember that I’d already documented my wishes for dealing with my remains.  The gist of my instructions is that (although I’d urge her to be guided by frugality) she should do whatever she wants.  However, I did add this proviso:

4. If there’s no good reason to prefer one thing over another for reasons of convenience or cost, I’d really like to have my body eaten by vultures.

Sadly, I’ve seen no move toward making sky burial socially acceptable in the United States.

Writing in 2009

I published one short story in 2009:

My story submission database isn’t really set up to answer the question of how many new stories I wrote this year, but I see three whose first submission to an editor was in 2009.  Hopefully some of those will appear in 2010.

Two articles of mine appeared as guest posts at personal financial blogs:

I wrote 71 posts for Wise Bread.  I’ve bolded a few where I thought I managed to say just what I was trying to say, and commend them to your attention:

One of my Wise Bread posts (Understand Capital Costs) was featured in in US Airways Magazine (October 2009, page 22).

Our Christmas Star

Our Christmas Star, originally uploaded by bradipo.

When I first moved out on my own I had only sparse Christmas decorations. Among the things that were lacking was a star for the top of the tree.

I didn’t feel it was so terrible—the tree was decorated, even if it didn’t have something on top. One Christmas, though, my brother and his wife came to visit at Christmas, and Alisa was appalled. Rather than tolerate such a defect, she cut a star out of shirt cardboard, covered it in aluminum foil, and put it on top of the tree.

I was delighted. I kept that star and used it on my trees for many years.

We went on using it for some time after I got married, until Jackie started doing needle-felting. Deciding that a Christmas star would be a perfect little project, she needle-felted this star, which has been our tree-topper ever since.

Creative Commons License
Our Christmas Star by Philip Brewer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Clarion journals findable again

Since the demise of Hilary Moon Murphy’s Clarion Ex Machina site, there hasn’t been a good collection of links to all the various Clarion journals.  Now Liz Argall has fixed that with her page of Clarion blogs, journals, articles and interviews.

There’s lots of good stuff there.  I don’t know of a better source of raw material for people who are interested in the Clarion experience.