DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are about 7000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

10 September 2010

You mean, we don't have to live like this?

I am continuing on from yesterday's post. There were many comments about how we are sometimes treated when we live the way we do, some comments about government assistance and some questioning how to help. Let's discuss all of those things.

BTW, my Frugal Home workshops are simply a continuation of what we discuss here. We talk about budgeting, how to lower the cost of living by shopping for bargains, stockpiling and reading meters etc., and green cleaning. What I try to do is to tell people how I live, without preaching. If this works for me then it might work for others too. If it doesn't, that's fine, I'm not trying to form a cult. What I hope to do is to show others that there are alternatives and that we don't have to work till we drop, wear fashions we don't like and that getting off the consumer merry-go-round is enriching and has the potential to improve life. One of my most favourite people to attend one of my workshops was a young girl around 28 years of age with a couple of young children. I noticed her paying very close attention to everything I said, she asked various questions, and then close to the end of the workshop, she asked: "You mean we don't have to live like this?". And I say to it everyone here and to everyone who will listen, NO WE DON'T! (If she is still reading here, hi Natalie!)


So, why should we even bother to get this message out? It will help others and it will facilitate change. When more people understand why we live as we do, when more people join us, when it is seen as a valid lifestyle choice, we won't be having discussions like this anymore. It will make it easier for us when other GET it. The world will be better for it and we won't be made feel like second-class citizens. Mind you, I never do. When I first started telling my friends about my changes, they thought it was odd but they have always enjoyed the home baked bread and the comforts of my home. And now many of them see the point and have joined me. When I come across someone who wonders why, I never feel inferior or second class, I just feel different, and that makes me feel good. I know I am doing the right thing for me and my family. If others don't see that, I don't care.


And how do we get this message out. Start by telling your family and friends what you're doing, and by showing them, by example, that it works. Don't preach, just show them small things and tell them that these changes have made you happy and move on. If they ask more questions, answer them, but don't try to convince them. Just be a guide for them, if you're convincing, they'll pick it up. You could also offer to show someone how to do something if they show any interest. Share your green cleaning recipes. Make up some soap and dishcloths and give them as gifts. Offer to teach gardening, knitting or crochet at your local school. If you have a neighbourhood or community centre, offer to present some life skills worskshops - subjects like soap making, bread making, preserving/canning, sewing and mending will be very popular. Don't expect to be paid. Your reward will be that you're helping people live well and you'll help create a better perception of simple living in our communities.

If you're too shy to stand in front of a group, teach your own children and offer to teach their friends in your own kitchen. A couple of quick cooking classes on how to make scones or pancakes, with the kids eating what they cook, could help spark a flame that leads to bigger things.

Don't expect to win everyone over. And be okay with that before you start. You'll save yourself some grief.

Rosellas (a type of hibiscus) being dried for tea making.

Email your favourite magazines and TV stations and ask for articles and programs about cleaning, sewing, home maintenance, grocery shopping on a budget and green cleaning. Tell them you want to see more about successful homemakers - not the ones whose homes look like showpieces but those who are fulfilled by being at home.

Now back to the government help. I don't want governments to support this with money, and I think governments have too much say in what we do already. But I want them to bring compulsory life skills lessons back to schools, starting in primary school. There are a lot of schools in Australia now with vegetable gardens and chooks that primary students look after. They also compost rubbish from the school canteens. This is a safe and steady start to a program that could teach older students a wide range of skills like budgeting, cooking, cleaning, mending, child care, meal planning and car maintenance. The same program could incorporate subjects like understanding advertising, credit cards and mortgages.

I am sure the more we show teenagers how to look after themselves responsibly, the less we'll have to teach them about the dangers of drug taking, alcohol and cigarettes. We need to fill them up with positives so there is little room for negatives to find a way in.


I guess the point is to talk about this and to make it more normal. The more we all take on this role, the faster it will change. Don't expect everyone to be won over and don't be disheartened when someone dismisses you and your ideas. They don't know any better. If someone had told me at the beginning of the economic crisis that two years down the track, many people would see the worth of a simple life and be questioning whether to go back to their former lives, even when they could, I doubt I would have believed them. But that is happening. Economic circumstances have been extremely harsh but they've shown many people that rampant consumerism, high debt and having it all does not make us happy. Change is happening. ... slowly. I encourage you all to share what you know, be generous and open up to those around you and let's see what a difference that will make. Remember, we have to give the information AND inspire people to use it. The alternative is to do nothing, and for me, that's not an option.

40 comments:

  1. Hi Rhonda,his is a really good post for many reasons but just one is that when we gentlly show what we are doing it is "more accepted".When we got our breadmaker months ago my DIL said o'h that will last a week,I explained that no this is another little change as many over the years have been happening.Just the other day the conversation came to bread and she was shocked to find we have not bought bread since we got the maker lol anyway as they live far away visits are not as frequent as we would all like and so it took months for that to come back up,I am always more interested to hear about the babies,I am just saying how right you are in gently does it and "from little thigs big things grow". Thank you againRhonda .Carole

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  2. I see this on a practical level with cloth nappies. So many people I meet just haven't heard of them. When they see my baby's cute fluffy bottom and how quickly I change a nappy, it says so much more than any government produced leaflet and lecture.
    For so many people, it just doesn't occur to them to live a different way of life. Living simply isn't mainstream yet. It's garnering interest but I'm definitely still seen as a bit wierd by a lot of people I know.
    However, when people see that my family life as a SAHM is calmer, that our food is homemade, that we survive with one car, no television etc... Well, they see that there is another way to live and it ain't half bad!

    Thanks, as always, for such inspiring posts, Rhonda.

    Karen (Scotland)

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  3. LOVE this post and it's message. You are right in that we need to take the steps to help the younger people learn real life skills. I am always shocked when I have to tell a young person at the grocery store what a particular vegetable is as most don't recognize food in it's raw form. One gal told me she never realized how many different types of squash were available... she went on to count the number on her Rolodex and said," This store sells 17 different types - I HAD NO IDEA there were THAT many"

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  4. OH... Almost forgot! What is the last picture? It looks absolutely DELICIOUS!

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  5. Becky, it's a ricotta and spinach pie in filo pastry. :- )

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  6. Hi Rhonda, I have been trying to pass on the information as I have been learning it myself through my blog, theevanssmallholding.blogspot.com. A lot of my friends live high corporate lifestyles and are reading it as I go. I know that they have never read anything like it before and I am getting lots of little comments from them. They are enjoying the read and I am hoping that something might also click in their heads! I am careful not to write instructions at them, I only write what I do as I don't want to put them off. I also share any of my soap, cheese, garden produce, eggs, etc that I can so that they can all see the products of my work at home. I am hoping that by doing these things I am somehow giving people a chance to realise that there are choices out there. You can decide to live a different way and the only thing stopping you is in your own head. Thanks for a fantastic blog Rhonda, you changed my life and now I want to change someone elses!

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  7. Hello Rhonda,

    I totally agree with all you have said in the past couple of days. All we have to do is start. Little by little things can change, but like you say not everyone will want to join us, but that's OK too. We are never to old to learn new skills and new ways of doing things that don't cost a lot of money. It will be interesting to see where this new movement towards more self reliance takes us. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Blessings Gail

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  8. Hi again Rhonda,
    Forgot to ask you are those red onions in the oven? I wonder what you are going to do with them. Is this a way of preserving them. I have seen frozen onions in the super market but have only used fresh onions. I'd love to be abel to preserve my surplus.
    Blessings Gail

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  9. This is a very encouraging post, especially the part about not feeling like a second class citizen.
    Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions- I'll probably re-read this a couple times, slowly...just so I can let it sink in.
    I was thinking of gift baskets for Christmas, containing homemade goodies and things since there are many canned specialties I tried out this year.
    I'm hoping to do something in my neighborhood- where gardening has taken off since the economic downturn.
    What really hit home to me was this
    'When I come across someone who wonders why, I never feel inferior or second class, I just feel different, and that makes me feel good. I know I am doing the right thing for me and my family. If others don't see that, I don't care.'
    That's it! Why does it matter what others think when I know I'm doing what's best? I'm not doing it for them.
    Thank you for the reminder Rhonda!
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

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  10. Gail, they are cut up rosellas that I dry for rosella tea. Now that I look at them, they do look like onions.

    Girl in the Pink Dress, don't doubt yourself. If you know that what you're doing is right for you and your fmaily, then that's all you need to know. You'll be doing good by helping in your community. Don't be shy. I've been amazed at how much people are wanting to learn. And, of course, giving homemade gifts is always a subtle way of showing how beautiful our days can be. Good luck!

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  11. I, too, have enjoyed and agreed with your last few posts. You so sound like me and my rants. I am the librarian for a small community of approx. 1,000. Over the last few years I have been able to purchase many books on getting back to living the simple life including taking care of your health naturally (and I always love your recommendations). I keep chickens, have a greenhouse, make my own soap (thanks to you) and many other things and I share all of it with my patrons. I have learned THE MOST important thing--don't share unless someone asks or you waste your breath, especially with health issues. It also is very frustrating. You have to think about the bible story where Jesus asked if the man wanted to be healed (there are so many who don't and love being a victim). A quiet example is best--and people love homebaked goodies. Thank you so much for being there, Rhonda. And everyone else that posts comments--they are a joy to read too! Can we have the recipe for that ricotta and spinach pie in phyllo dough crust? Pretty please?

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  12. Lovely post and so much to think about. I always enjoy coming here and reading.

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  13. This post was so timely and encouraging for me. I struggle greatly with feeling "second-class," especially when family members question my decision to stay home with my two small children and not try to earn money (it's just really hard to do that and to make a home).

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  14. Thanks Rhonda. You fill me with inspiration. I really appreciate it.

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  15. lifefromtheroof, there are two ways to make money. One is to earn it, like your husband is doing, the other is to save it - to get value for money and to be a prudent and frugal homemaker, which is what you're doing. You have a job. If they can't see that, don't let it worry you. You're doing what's best for your family and that, my lovely, is all that matters.

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  16. Great post and point Rhonda :) Isn't it all just one friendly conversation at a time started with a simple question.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Would you mind sharing with us where you found the pattern for the oh' so cute baby slippers that cross in the front and hold together with the button? They are for you new grandbaby? Yes? Would love to see what else you have been doing for the arrival of the wee one. All so exciting isn't it and congratulations to you and your family.

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  17. Dissapointed you're not going tostart a cult, I think the "Cult of Rhonda" could be quite a fun place to be

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  18. Rhonda,
    Thanks for a great post! You know, I really do sense a change in our country. People are responding to the economic crisis by changing their attitudes toward consumption of material things. Downsizing to smaller homes, planting gardens, cooking at home--simple, nourishing food, homeschooling children rather than sending them into the public schools where they are exposed to all sorts of dangers--and I work in a public school! My childhood friend "C" and I write about subjects that pertain mostly to women--friendship, divorce, children, etc., but we have yet to touch upon this important subject of simpler living. It needs to be promoted and you do it best!

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  19. such a relief to read you blog postings Rhonda - I have that "your odd" attitude ringing about my ears when people see our lifestyle - not hippies or get outers - we just don't want what the World seems to be getting offer these days and are seen as queer for shunning these excessive technologies and products.

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  20. hi rhonda, i dont earn a lot of money, so being frugal is rather a necessity but its also a choice. the alternative is actually rather vulgar. when you stop "following" the norm and evaluate things right down to the core of your beliefs you (well, I) see that enormous waste and over consumption occurs just because you are following what is perceived to be norm. it is crazy. on the other hand, my sis loves all the latest gadgets, and says "stuff growing stuff" lol how 2 people in the same gene pool can think totally opposite!
    I choose to live like this, im proud of it, i stand tall (at 5'3 lol) and if anybody shares my values well and good, if im the odd one out then thats how it will be. bring on the revolution!!

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  21. Rhonda - another wonderful post thankyou, I still very much feel on the first rung of the ladder to this type of lifestyle but am definately going in the right direction. I thought you might like to see how you have inspired me

    http://trying-to-find-me.blogspot.com/2010/09/renewing-stained-t-shirt.html

    I still haven't finished the full embroidery but I have started!

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  22. Hi Rhonda - Thank you for another thoughtful post. What are the little red things drying in the oven??

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  23. Thanks for this one Rhonda! It is hard to commit to these changes, even harder to explain and validate your choices to those who follow the "norm". I am saddened at all the knowledge that has been lost from my grandparents and earlier generations. I am seriously considering visiting some Seniors homes to try and find a mentor as I cannot seem to find anyone around here that lives the same way. We are currently living as frugally as we can and it is a steep learning curve. Thank you for putting this all out here on the web for us all and inspiring me to do even more. deana

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  24. Well-said and articulated, Rhonda! It's up to us individuals to set an example(If people only knew how simple it is to make a delicious spelt loaf from scratch and the satisfaction it brings ore world would be our oyster:)after all. I'm about to attend a school speaking workshop tommorrow so this post couldn't of been more fitting(Thanks you Rhonda for being you:)!

    Warmest best wishes and blessings:)

    xoxoxo

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  25. I am a 38 year old stay at home mom with two little ones and another due tomorrow. We changed so much in our lives over a six month period two and a half years ago. My friends all thought I was nuts and they didn't know half of what we were doing. There came one night we were all gathered at my home and someone brought it up. I asked if everyone was really interested and they said they were.
    I quickly went through a lot of what I was doing, starting with the meal we had just had showing them my mill and buckets of wheat I had made our bread from. I talked about the herbs I grew that flavored everything and the sauces and pickles I had canned that they were enjoying.
    From there it moved onto the home products of cleaning with vinegar and baking soda (bicarb) and showed them how I made easily made up all sorts of cleaners. I even passed around jars of my lotions, balms and deodorant. That was funny.
    Now, everyone said they didn't have time to do it all themselves, but they would love to buy what I made. Ahem. I get that alllll the time. I tried to explain that so much is just a part of the natural routine of the day and that when I make things up I do big batches and then use them up over months. It's not like I make all these things everyday.
    They wanted to buy the lotions and balms and deodorants and so I do sell them to them now. They love to come over to eat. :) And now several of them are actually reading the labels of what they purchase and making changes. Some ask me questions and I am able to share resources, like this blog and more. They will even comment that they thought I was crazy before, but now--because of the recession, because of personal health crisis, because of something they've read, it is starting to make sense. I am just glad to be able to help.
    The teasing is gone now. Not that it matters. I knew it my heart I was making the right decision for my family and grew up enough to not care so much about what everyone else thinks. It is so freeing!

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  26. Hi Rhonda, I started a blog to track for myself, the journey into frugal living, self sufficiency etc that I am undertaking. The lifestyle I lead is one I am really proud of and I hope to share my experiences with others like you. You have been an inspiration. I find it so helpful on the forum and reading others blogs. It's so interesting and I've learnt a lot- and it's so nice to talk with like-minded people also. Your posts on budgeting have been particuarly helpful so THANK YOU!! :)

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  27. Hi Rhonda...I loved this article and it's very well-written. You expressed your thoughts so be uatifully and I really like how you emphasized leading by example and not preaching...I think that's so important!!!! I don't know that my friends have ever made fun of me for trying to live simpler..many of them share the same values and have a particular love for canning fruit for some reason :) :)...but I'll tell you waht..I'm happy with my life and seeing the money I save...and not so much the money...but there's a satisfaction that comes from being able to do for myself!!!

    Oh on a side note...I loved that photo with the embroidery floss. I have three boxes of embroidery floss just like the ones you pictures here. I had to do a double-take because it almost looked the ones in my home :) :) :)

    When I was in school we had home economics class and later in high school, economics..literal basic..like how to balance a budget, write a check etc...I'm not sure if those skills are taught in schools here anymore.

    Oh, all those food photos are making me hungry. That bread looked really yummy. On that note, I'm going to go eat something :) :) Have a lovely weekend. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

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  28. I do love my simple life and the time I am able to spend in my gardens and with my kids, but there are times when I see the benefits of a regular full income as well. I am about to go on an annuals wine-tasting/picnicing holiday with some girl friends. While they arrive in their eco-friendly new bamboo clothing and knit with silk/cashmere/merino wool/bamboo/seaweed fibres, I will arrive with the same clothing as last year. They aren't interested in stories of my garden or my trips to the eco-station for old bathroom fixtures so I'm generally fairly quiet when the stories of holidays in Europe and Mexico start going. I can't afford art classes, karate classes, musical theatre camps for the kids or a new bathroom. I always return to my garden after these trips with pleasure, but I'd also love to be able to buy what I need without worry about the costs involved.

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  29. My now 18 year old had to take all these maths to complete her highs school credential.Algebra, Calculus.She hated it all, but then she too a math called "Math for Everyday" What an eye opener. How to use a credit card, take out a car loan, a mortgage, to save money and invest it, even how to write a check. My 23 year old still has never done this? But here in Canada all domestic sciences have been removed and replaced with computer sciences. Shame.

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  30. Lizzy, I haven't forgotten you. I'll find the pattern and send it to you. I've made a couple of things, not much yet, as I'm busy with other things at the moment.

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  31. Great post Rhonda. It's a big worry that these skills are not being passed on. I know because i had to learn it all myself. I learned to sew from watching my mum though and we did home ec in high school. But mum worked and really didn't teach us anything about budgeting or cooking which made it hard when I left home. 2 minute noodles aren't nice 7 days a week so i quickly figured out how to make cheap meals. And I cringe at the thought that nearly everyone i know is living beyond there means, it must be very stressful and possibly not worth the instant gratification of the newest "thing". Anyways, I found this onlone "Home cooking skills" from Jamie Oliver http://www.jamieshomecookingskills.com/about.php
    Thought you and others might be intrested. Would be good for parents to learn with the kids how to cook at home.

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  32. I keep coming back to this post. It underlines how, in one generation, women have been forced, persuaded - whatever - out of the kitchen and home by the need to work and the blandishments of advertising which insist that food has to be "instant", hoodwinked into the notion that they can really "have it all". All this involves a complete loss of skills. Your young woman's comment, "You mean, we don't have to live like this?" is SO poignant. So many don't realize that there is another way of doing things. They live in total ignorance.

    This was underlined on a programme on Radio 4 (UK) yesterday, when the Duchess of Devonshire (think, Chatsworth House) was saying that when she was developing the farm side of Chatsworth estate, they decided to sell meat packs from animals on the estate - half a sheep, an 8th of a beef steer etc. She said that the level of ignorance about the countryside and farming was such (and this was a good few years ago - late 1960s?) that she had letters from "town" women about the lambs in the field having four legs, and so how come the pack of lamb they bought from Chatsworth only had two?

    Keep up the good work.

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  33. Hi, I linked over from someone's blog and am smiling as I read your post. That is wonderful about teaching kids to cook and out children's friends. Did you know that some programs for troubled youth that is exactly what they do. It gives them a feeling of self respect and of course what they cook is delicious, so it's a double bonus.
    Your bread looks delicious.

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  34. I am with you all the way!! Great post! Love your blog. We are actually having a yard sale today...and I am selling antiques...and things I've held on to for years. I yearn for a simpler existence!

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  35. "the comforts of my home". What a delightful warming phrase that is Rhonda....And how that Ricotta and Spinach pie makes me feel inspired.

    I've never felt like a second class citizen. I feel as if I live in the luxury enjoyed by the very rich. I have time on my side. And such pleasures from being able to slow down, arrange my own schedule and take time to smell the roses and to create many times every day!

    Thank you for all the gentle encouragement you offer every day.

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  36. Rhonda,
    I have lived this way most of my life not in a country way but in the city ways that are possible for me. Sewing, cooking from scratch, making laundry soap, using green cleaners. I do these things if less money is coming in and also if more money is coming in. It is a life that works for me. It is a steady pace that gives me peace and a home that is simple, clean and enjoyable. Thank you for all you do. I plan to learn to make bar soap now because of your encouragement.

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  37. what a beautiful thing you're doing here - shine on sister!!

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  38. They all look yummy, btw, the first picture of the chicken looks like the chinese cuisine, what we usually call here as "pek cam kee", one of my favorite food.

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  39. Marsh is so right in her comment when she said "I have learned THE MOST important thing--don't share unless someone asks or you waste your breath". It is so difficult to walk this path and learn so many wonderful and life changing skills and recipes for soaps,food, and things to help maintain our homes as naturally as economical as possible, and to share enthusiastically with someone your findings only to be discouraged at their reaction. You know in your heart what is right and must forge on for the betterment of your family and loved ones. When others see the change in you and your home and are interested they will ask...and be delighted to learn as we are all. I feel so at home here Rhonda. I find so much encouragement here and on the forum that I can't always find in my immediate physical location and I am so thankful. I try and help and share about my journey and encourage as much as possible in return on my blog as it's the seeds that we plant that help others. Thank you for all you do! You are such an inspiration to me, I have learned so much from what you have shared. I feel as if you are my long distance mentor!

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  40. I know what you mean about how it seems like the skills are being lost. I live in rural West Virginia and work a tech job in a small town. Even here I am surprised by the young people who know so little about home cooking, crafting, and farming. At the same time they seem to think that they need all the technology that the tech companies tell they they should have. I try to share my farm adventures they listen, but aren't too interested. Maybe someday.

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