Sunday, February 25, 2007

Clean-Up Weekend

So we spent a lot of the weekend starting the clean-up process of our beetle-killed pine tree. What a mess. Apparently the fear is that the larvae will be hatching into beetles as soon as the weather warms and they will fly into our other pine trees. Everyone says we'll be losing them for sure anyway (unless we make SUCH a drastic impact to reverse global warming that we get a cold enough winter to kill them all), but we want to keep them as long as we can. SO! We had to finish the debarking process that Woody did such a good job of starting, and we found millions of little white worms, bigger white worms, and tiny winged beetles (3 different stages of the lifecycle? I'm not sure) under the bark. We kept a fire going as we debarked and burned the bark as we went. But we lost lots of worms onto the ground and we're hoping they won't live... Anyway, little P had a wonderful time 'helping' daddy cut the logs into manageable pieces... SO much work.

And the little girls had quite an adventure too... A and her cousin went on a 'safari' down by the creek and when I saw them "swimming" in the 4 inches of water, I enticed them up to the house with the promise of muffins warm from the oven. They weren't the least bit concerned about how wet they were as they were wearing their snowsuits and feeling quite warm. Cousin had lost her hat, and her head was full of burdock (a burr so awful that we have to cut it out of our alpaca's wool). It took me a good hour to pull strand by strand of her hair out of the mess. I honestly thought we were going to have to shave her head when I first started... An adventure to remember! (this photo was taken near the end of the process when I realized it might be a good reminder story at her wedding or something!)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


You know you have a real friend when they care enough to tell you that you're off track. Thank you for all the responses to my "angry" post. I'm glad I got that out. And I'm especially grateful to know you care and you're reading me. Thanks for the emails.
One of my soulsisters gently told me she'd rather read encouraging things on my blog. That she comes looking for inspiration. And this really resonated with me. Thank you, dearheart, becauase I think that's why I come here too. Another soulsister reminded me of her favourite Dyer quote "If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." And still another reminded me of the law of attraction. I was starting to feel that maybe I should say "I'm failing" instead of "I'm trying". Remembering the law of attraction I am now going to say "I'm making a difference by ____". So, in that spirit, I am going to start searching/manifesting stories to encourage and inspire me and you. Here's the one I found today (moved to 3R's blog - click to read).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

UNLESS it's normal...

"But now," says the Once-ler,
"Now that you're here,
the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear.
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It's not."
'The Lorax' by Dr. Seuss, 1971

Thanks for your comment, Heather, about being normal. I've never wanted to be 'normal' either. I've always associated normal with boring. I've always been comfortable living on the fringes of acceptability, finding my own way for every corner of my lifestyle. I've never had a penchant for keeping up with the Jones' nor have I ever wanted to wear clothes that were in fashion or have a house that was cool.
But lately, it's become painfully obvious to me that unless something is considered "normal" it isn't embraced by the masses. And I feel pretty desperate about that when it comes to the environment. EVERYONE is talking about what the governments need to do. Everyone's watching An Inconvenient Truth and bemoaning global warming. But when I look around in my daily life, I don't see people actually doing anything about it. And this terrifies me.
We've had 2 trees cut down in the last two days -- beetle kill -- global warming. The arborist told me that ALL the scientists agree that by 2011 virtually all of the pine trees in B.C. will be dead. We have seriously mourned the loss of these 2 trees, they have sheltered us from the storms and the heat of the sun, they've sung to us in the winds, they've been food for our squirrels, they've given us mulch from their needles, they've been homes for the birds in our forests. They're JUST TREES, you say. How easy it is to forget that we cannot live without trees. But more than the oxygen they provide, trees are living, breathing reminders of the sacredness of Mother Earth... of the goddess within every one of us. And they're dieing because one species on this planet just canNOT seem to find it within themselves to save them. And it's too late now. Nothing we could do at this point will save these magnificent trees. Ugh. I feel SO discouraged.'
WHY isn't everyone doing EVERYthing they can to reverse the destruction of our planet? WHY????? Peak oil is coming. Why aren't we saving every last drop that's left for things that cannot be replaced with sustainable resources? Oh, anyone can poo poo that too and I'm sure you can always find an "expert" (sponsored by oil companies, no doubt) who will tell you this is all a myth and we are FINE JUST FINE and not to worry at all. But we're smart. We know we can't continue the way we have. Right? Do you have pine trees in your backyard? Have you ever googled the number of species that is disappearing EVERY MINUTE because of our collective greed? Imagine how shocking it would have been for your great grandmother to hear that the air would soon be so bad that children would be encouraged to play indoors many days. That we can't drink from our mountain streams. That we can't eat fish from our lakes or even from our vast oceans for fear of poisoning. She could not have imagined a world such as this. I tell my grandmother (who's lived in a nursing home for 10 years) and she absolutely doesn't believe me. "Oh go on," she says.
Why aren't we embracing solar and wind and water power? I'm not talking about THEM. I'm talking about US. About me. About you.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not on a soapbox here. I'm not doing my share yet either, and not even sure why. I'm really discouraged and searching for some encouragement and I'm not finding it. Did you know that some religions teach their converts that caring for the environment isn't their job?! No lie. I have been told by people who believe that they can live as greedy, consumer-driven, polluting, environmentally-damaging lives as they want and "God will take care of the earth". Well, not in those words, but same concept. Truly. Someone SOON is coming and they will all rise into heaven together and the earth will light on fire or something. OH. MY. GOD.
Yeah. Encouragement is not exactly abounding all around me.
It's not even expected yet to bring your own bags to the store. WHY? What could be more simple than just saying no to new plastic bags? It's not even a blip in our lifestyle. Yet it's just not happening.
So that's what I meant, when I said I'm encouraged when people say "but you seem so normal" when they hear or see the wee things I'm doing. Because maybe if they consider me normal then I can help effect change. If I'm doing it, then maybe they can give themselves permission to do it too -- without the fear of somehow not being "normal" or "hip" or "cool" or "fashionable" or "insert insecurity here" enough.
There's just SO many little things we could be doing. And we're not. We keep sitting on our fat asses waiting for someone ELSE to wake up and save the planet for us. Well you know what? THERE IS NOBODY ELSE. It's you. and me. and her. and him. It's US. Are we going to get that in time? The last few grains are falling through the timer and we're still looking the other way. AAAAGH!!!!!!!!! WAKE UP.
For those of you who haven't yet, PLEASE Come and read my weak attempt to inspire you and you and you and you and ME to start with the little things. Come help me get some momentum going. PLEASE. Let your mind drift to what you COULD do. Find inspiration. And share it. Tell me about the little ways you conserve. I'll share them. And together we can make a difference... Gawdalmighty, how sad is it that that phrase is considered corny?
What could I say to light a fire under you? Did you click on any of the links I put in this post? Did you read any of it? Or is it just too depressing. Would you much rather just not know any of that. Yeah, me too. Somedays I wish I didn't care so much. Somedays I wish I could just be happily oblivious and believe that "someone else" will fix it all... or that I'm going to fly up on a cloud to heaven and so it won't matter anyway... Nope. Wasn't made that way.
So? I need your help. Help me find a way to ignite the cool, hip, stylish 'normal' masses. Please.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Follow Your Bliss... (the true Secret)

Most of my mentors are women. But there are men that I greatly admire too. Like Ghandi. And this man... He was my first inroad to the road less taken to the inner sanctums of myself. Have a listen. He's more than brilliant.
What is your bliss?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

We are so blessed

Yesterday was our last trip to the pediatrician for awhile. The last of the lab results were in. My wee P proved everyone wrong. Way back in October the doctor told me the "best and worst case scenarios", and I wanted to believe that he was wrong, but I'm not sure I really did. At least not at first. But as we waded through all the diagnostics, I started to believe with all my heart that I was witnessing a miracle -- that the doctors were wrong -- that there was nothing wrong with my wee boy. Was there ever? I'll never know. And it doesn't matter. For right now, he is in perfect health -- all the scads of blood tests and x-rays and ultrasound came back normal. YAY! And look at him, wearing his sisters favourite dancing dress, whirling up a STORM.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, and the reason behind all the worry, behind all the what-if's, behind all the tears and the fear was this: to powerfully remind me to be present with my children, with the whole of my sweet life... to be grateful for every moment I have with each member of my family. When my children refuse to eat what I cook and half an hour later wail with hunger, I think of mothers who have nothing to feed their children and my frustration evaporates. When my children need me in the night leaving me foggy in the morning I think of mothers who don't have their children anymore, crying into their pillows and my frustration disappears. When my children fight with each other, screaming in each others' faces I think of women who can't have children and my anger dissipates.
I am truly blessed. Thank you for your prayers and lit candles. I am forever grateful. I am changed. I am present. I am awake. xo

Monday, February 12, 2007

A place to put it...

I'm starting a new blog where I'm hoping to put in one place all the good ideas I come across for doing my little bit to help save the planet. I've had such encouraging feedback from my Every Little Thing post, about how inspiring it was to read the little things that one person is trying to do. So I'm hoping that this new site will be a place to gather thousands of similar ideas into one place. I'm unsure of the most useful set-up for such a site. What do you think? Would you be willing to visit and leave a comment about how you would like to see it done? I'm excited about this -- I know it will be super inspiring for me, and hopefully for lots of others too. What do you think?

Discovering Buckwheat flour...

We're still searching for an inexpensive (current source costs me $7.50 to make two loaves) source for organic spelt flour (we've switched to spelt for its nutrition and because it doesn't hurt Annika's tummy), and yesterday morning I found us completely out of bread AND spelt flour. My kids didn't want eggs again for breakfast, so I was feeling pretty pinched. I went through my crazy pantry and found a small bag of buckwheat flour, leftover from some bread experiment a few months back. With nothing to lose and two hungry kids, I tried making buckwheat crepes! DELISH! I just substituted the buckwheat for the spelt that I normally use in this recipe:
1.5 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar (I use raw, organic, free-trade sugar from Rancho Vignolo, which I've read is actually very nutritious and good for us!? I see you can buy it at Simpl Delicious, too.)
1/2 tsp baking powder (without aluminum -- from Cooper's bulk or Simply Delicious bulk)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cups milk
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
This recipe made enough for the 3 of us for two full meals. I cooked up the rest of the batch today and that half up there is the only scrap left. My kids inhaled them, and even proclaimed that they didn't need maple syrup as they tasted good by themselves! So, there you go. A last ditch resort served up a new favourite food!

Here's a little info that I found when I googled buckwheat:
Buckwheat has a variety of healthful properties. It’s an excellent plant source of easily digestive protein and contains all eight essential amino acids, so it’s close to being a "complete" protein. Buckwheat is also high in fiber (a big bonus for celiacs), B vitamins and, according to a USDA study, keeps glucose levels in check better than other carbohydrates -- which is good news for celiacs who also have diabetes. It’s also said to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.
So, now I want to try growing it! It's in the same family as rhubarb (which I LOVE) and sorrel (which I want to try growing this year) and is therefore a fruit, not a grain as the name would have you think. When it's roasted it's called Kasha.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Plant the seed and wait...

I've begun planting all sorts of seeds from our food that we eat! This had never occurred to me before but my friend has a lovely date palm in her home that she planted from seed, so I've planted some dates, a mango (oh how I wish I could plant the tree outside and wait for a harvest!) that hasn't sprouted yet, and today I started a grapefruit and a lemon seed. I don't know what will happen, if anything, but I'm not growing any of this for the food, just for the lovely houseplants! I read in my Mother Earth News magazine to take cuttings from tomato plants right before first frost and keep them going indoors over winter and then use cuttings off those plants to start tomatoes! Why didn't I think of that. It says you can even keep harvesting cherry tomatoes all winter long. I'm already out of tomatoes and having to buy canned, so must grow LOTS more next year. And can more peaches, they didn't last long, my kids would choose to eat them every single day.
Any other seed ideas for me to try? And those of you downunder, have you tried planting your own lemon and mango trees? Fun and free!

Freedom to be "too big"...

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ’Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -- Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Every little thing...

This post has been in "draft" waiting for me to think of things to add to the list. I've been pecking away at it just as this pileated woodpecker has been completely de-barking one of our pinetrees, eating all the beetles and larvae on it! He worked here tirelessly for weeks, but has now flown on. And alas! I have nothing more to add just now so will post and continue to seek inspiration for further change...

Cherrybean's Death to the Climate post has been mulling in my mind... Along with all the headline news about climate change and the wake-up call to the world to pull up our socks...

In the journals I keep for my children I keep a list of everything we do to try to save the world. I have a feeling they are going to be very angry in a few years that people of the generations before them didn't do enough to keep their planet clean. I want them to know that I'm keen and open to do as much as I can. But I'm always looking for what MORE I could be doing, and so I'm hoping that by sharing some of the things I'm doing, that I will manifest into my life (comments, people, comments!) ideas from others...

So here's the new things I've taken on in the last few months or so:
* inspired by Andrea, I no longer turn my dryer on. I found an old flower-drying rack that I'm using over the stairwell. I'm stunned by how quickly everything dries with our woodheat, and how easy this one change has been for me. I've always used my clothesline in the spring/summer/autumn, but didn't think I had much option in the winter. Surprise!
* this isn't entirely new, but if I don't have my to-go mug, I skip the drive-through. I've been doing this for a couple years now, but I would get a coffee for a friend without much thought. Now, if I don't have my guest-to-go-mug, my friend doesn't get coffee either.
* I refuse to buy anything packaged in styrofoam. I refuse to use styrofoam. At Christmas time we were served hot chocolate in styrofoam cups and that was the last time any styrofoam will go to the landfill because of me.
* I've replaced all of my non-stick cookware except cookie sheets (if you see stainless steel ones somewhere, will you give me a shout please?) and am trying not to buy anything with perfluorochemicals in or on it. This is NOT an easy change (good-bye most shampoos, take-out pizza (the boxes are coated) Gortex, Stainmaster (carpets, mattresses), microwave popcorn, Teflon, etc), but this is a chemical that will NEVER leave the earth (it has a half-life of tens of thousands of years), is found at alarmingly high rates in our bloodstreams and breastmilk, causes cancer and who knows what else, and is slowly killing everything from polarbears in the high arctic to butterflies in the Amazon. It's in my children's blood and there's nothing I can do about that. But I can try my darndest to try not to add to it... Skeptical? Google "perfluorochemicals" and see if you don't want to make some changes yourself.
* inspired by Linda, when I turn my oven on I'm ready to cook nearly everything for the week. Yesterday I made 2 loaves of bread (thanks for the recipe, Andrea!), 2 batches of cookies, roasted cauliflower and honey (!) soup, roasted the last spaghetti squash from our garden, roasted a chicken, and sweet potato fries, all in 3 hours. SO gratifying!
* inspired by Linda and many of my friends, I am trying to arrange everything I need to use our car for into one or two days out. This has been incredibly freeing, so far! We have lots of days of really free time, and our days 'in town' are full and productive. As soon as the ice is off the roads, I'm planning to start biking most places. You'll have to hold me to this one as this has been a goal for well over a year. oops!
* I'm trying really hard to use almost every single thing at least twice. Paper is easy, food packaging is more challenging (but all the more motivation to buy food sans packaging!). I buy everything I can in as big of a container as I can find, as these are so much easier to re-use. And I shop at a store that allows me to bring my own containers in and fill them from their bulk containers.
*Also inspired by Andrea (I should probably just have a whole post on what this incredible woman has inspired in my life...) I no longer buy any plastic bags or plastic wrap (and now hate to admit that I ever did. ugh!) I'm still using up some that I bought about 2 years ago, and trying to make them last as long as possible. Also, I find that I'm forced ? no, make that choose! to buy some things in plastic bags, and so I wash and store them for future use.
*We have commited as a family to plant 10 trees per year (here's a super easy way to do this! that only takes about 5 minutes!). Annika came up with this number as one tree for everyone in her 'family', which includes us 4, our dog, our cat, Gma & Gpa, and our 2 Foster Plan children. I love seeing the little wire cages up around our land, protecting these little promises of hope...
*This one will have loads of controversy (or skepticism, or laughter?! ha!) for those who know me and loathe my packrat ways, but I really think there is virtue in keeping for re-use rather than tossing. How many times have you gone to give someone a gift only to bemoan the fact that you just got rid of something they would've loved not two months ago? And all those little wires and hooks and bits of paper that you're dumping in the trash? They are SO handy at the right moment. It's all about organization and I'm always looking for ideas on that one... Loving Martha's book on this very subject just now. It irks me just a bit that people get so excited about their recycling habits, when that truly is not the answer. Oh, I don't mean we shouldn't recycle. We should be recycling absolutely everything we possibly can. But if the guilt of consumerism is eased by recycling, then we've clearly missed the entire point. We must consume LESS (reduce), reuse more. And then what we absolutely can't re-use in ANY other way, we recycle.
*All of my appliances have an Energy Star rating except my ancient washer and dryer. I know nobody else would want to inherit my washer so near to the end of its life, so I will keep it going until it gives up the ghost and then hope I can recycle some of its parts? and replace it with a super-efficient frontload. And maybe I won't bother replacing the dryer? When do you really NEED a dryer?
* I've switched to using a DivaCup along with Lunapads. I'm so impressed with how easy this change was, as well. I do have a box of unbleached, fully biodegradable cotton pads in my cupboard for travel or what-have-you, but so far I've rarely had to resort to using them. I'm much more comfortable with rinsing out my lunapads than I am with putting anything bloody into my compost! Yuck, right? But really, after using cloth diapers and feeling good about that choice, I decided that having filled a landfill site or two with my 25 years of pads was enough.

* I'm hoping to expand the growing of our own food every year. Our small garden plots last year produced an amazing amount of food to eat, can, freeze, pickle, jam and store, and I'm hoping to expand those plots by at least half again this year. Our chickens keep us in plenty of eggs and I'm thinking of raising some fryer hens as well, this year. I have to admit, I'd LOVE a jersey milkcow like the one I grew up with (and yes, J, her name was Annabelle!). Think of the cheese I could make and the fresh yogurt and butter and how lovely and large we'd all get. Ha! My A doesn't do well with dairy, but I think raw milk would be a different story. What do you think?

* I'm always hunting for more ways to buy from local producers. If you live around here, did you know that Anita sells local honey and coffee in addition to the huge service she does for those of us who get in on the Rancho Vignola orders each Autumn? What else am I missing out on?

* I'm trying to make as much of our food as I can -- bread, crackers, soup stock, jams, jellies, pickles, etc.

Okay, so those are the major new things I've implemented.

But there's one big smear on my conscience. Santa brought us a hot tub. I love the warmth and comfort of it but I just can't get past the monstrosity of unrecyclable, uncompostable plastic that it is... not to mention the toxicity of the chemicals and the energy that goes into keeping the water hot... My husband has always wanted one and this was clearly something that was really important to him. He works hard and it took him an entire month away from us to pay for this beast (this is one of his rationales for deserving it, and one of my reasons for not wanting it). We've gone round and round on this one and I'm attempting to surrender to the fact that it is here to stay and looking for ways to open my heart and enjoy it with my well-meaning husband... I have a hard time with the chemicals, for sure, but if it were a big hole in the ground lined with stones, and still took the same amount of chemicals and electricity to heat, I'd feel better about it. But it's NOT, and so it is what it is.

Anyway, hot-tub aside, I'm hoping to be able to add to this list every month. I would love to replace my beloved car with a hybrid, but I'm not convinced there's an all-wheel-drive-hybrid (and barring moving, I need all-wheel-drive) out there that's truly a better choice. Care to disagree? I'd love to hear what you have to say.
About anything... xo