Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Great Recession

I'm making dinner and listening to NPR commentary about the recession, the job market, and the economy in general. There was just a prediction that it may take until 2017 to recover all of the lost jobs.

WHAT?! I thought that a couple more years sounded harsh, but that is a very long time.

For those who have lost jobs and not been able to recover them, these are frightening times.

Tessa and I have been reading the American Girl story of Kit in the Great Depression (1934), and we're finding an awful lot of parallels. We're also reading "Little House on Plum Creek," the fourth in the "Little House on the Prairie" series, and we just finished the chapter where the grasshopper cloud came down on the wheat a week before harvest time, and completely destroyed the Ingalls' crop, and they owe money to the bank for their new house, and Pa's boots have holes in them and now they don't even have food. Bank collapse or grasshoppers, financial instability is anything but new. It seems that today's problems are old tales, that these stories have been around forever, but I have to say I honestly didn't see it coming. That makes me blind, I think.

Such large changes in the world are bringing about smaller changes in my world.

Tonight there is soccer after school, and then there is a PTA meeting tonight. (Oh my goodness - look at my life!) We will only have about an hour in between, and it would be so appealing to go out to dinner. Instead, I made vegetable soup in the crock pot, and Beth is bringing some bread, and we'll have dinner waiting for us after soccer. A few years ago in a similar circumstance I would have gone out to eat, no question, and not thought much about the money. But now we think about money frequently. I was going to make squash soup, but I had some leftover tomatoes that I needed to use, so vegetable soup it is tonight; squash keeps longer than fresh tomatoes.

And somehow, it is okay. I hope my soup tastes good (fresh kale, celery, carrots, zuchinni and cranberry beans from the market; onions from my garden; herbs from my garden and Sarah's; we'll top it with shavings of parmesan cheese), and I know it's healthier than what I would eat if I went out. Dinner will be waiting for Ryan, hot when he gets home. I saved some leftover kale and celery tops in an old yogurt container, and stuck them in the freezer for next time I make soup stock. The rest of the vegetable scraps went into the worm bin, where they will turn into rich compost for my garden next year. We eat a lot more vegetarian meals than we used to - we've changed from maybe 5% vegetarian to 50% vegetarian, and our pocketbooks are helped, and so is our health (hopefully). The environment probably appreciates the break, too.

I'm not wasting nearly as much as I used to - even vegetable scraps go to good use. I can't - our medical bills still stink and they keep coming in. (This latest episode will likely cost us a couple thousand out of pocket, which is MUCH less than insurance will pay, but still hurts.) But right now, I feel like I'm in good company. My friends don't mind coming over for a simple vegetable soup, and nobody seems to mind when I say that I'm watching my money and can't do some activity (and offer a cheaper alternative.) People know that times are hard, and it seems like there is a lot less pressure to do things in a grand style.

But these simple styles are really, really appealing to me. I love the green aspects, I love the slower aspects, and I love the healthier aspects.

I wouldn't wish this economy on anyone, but we're doing okay. We feel broke most of the time, but it is a good, good, good life. We are very fortunate.

Vegetable soup on a cold day, friends, activities. Our bank account looks crummy (bah.), but somehow, it will all work out. The Depression ended eventually; Laura Ingalls went on to write all those books. The story isn't done.

1 comment:

Julie said...

I could totally relate to this blog post. We made the decision several months ago that we were not going to go out to eat unless it was a planned event that we all looked forward to. So, it took alot of pb & j sandwiches with sliced apples on the way to different events but now it's really great. The added benefit is that most of the time I have lunch now the next day too!
Now to work on those crummy bank accounts.......