Thursday, June 24, 2010


Seriously folks... I'm being tortured....

I love surprises. The Girl knows that I love surprises.

She's planned something for my birthday. But she won't tell me what it is...

I have the following information at my disposal:
- I will be away from home for at least one and possibly two nights, so I need to pack a bag.
-I need to pack something nice to wear (being the emerging femme that I am, I plan on bringing something completely sexy so that I can torture her as much as she's tortured me). I'm sure she's okay with that.
-I may or may not need a passport but I should bring one just in case. (I live about 2 hours from the US border)
-I have three more weeks to wait until I find out what's happening. I love surprises, but suspense drives me completely and totally up the wall.

So, gentle readers, how do I get through the next three weeks without driving myself crazy?

(It's a good thing that life is busy right now - Toronto pride next week, family birthday the week after, so I have many things to occupy me while I slowly go insane).

I'm off to Wild Ginger Witchcamp this weekend. Hope you all have an amazing time, whatever you do.

PS I can`t even begin to tell you how absolutely wonderful life is right now.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Honor the Earth

The Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, co-founded Honor the Earth with Winona LaDuke. For the past few days, the Indigo Girls have been in Montana touring and promoting the amazing work that Honor the Earth is doing in aboriginal communities.

Amy's been keeping a diary. You can read it here.

She is a powerful writer with a poignant message. This is the sentence that grabbed me: We owe it to the earth, to ourselves, and to Native communities to do the work to support and to heal the eco-system and the human family.

I've been thinking about it all day. Outside in the sun and wind with the kids, watching them catch bugs, and roll in the grass. They are so eager to learn whatever they can about the world around them. I've been sent home with assignments, all from playground observations - to identify bugs we found, to confirm that a bush in the corner of our lot really has edible'd think that I was the student. And in fact, they teach me as much as I teach them.

Whenever I think about the oil spill in the Gulf, my heart breaks. The more I read, the sadder I become. It appears that the spill is still largely uncontained, and looks to be much bigger than many politicians and BP officials are letting on. All that destruction, for the sake of satisfying worldwide greed and dependence on fossil fuels.

It's almost too big to comprehend. And while it may be easy for us to fool ourselves into thinking that this is not our problem, and really there's nothing we can do, we will all feel the impact of this disaster and others in the years to come. But we can all make a difference, just by changing a few simple things in our lives and in our lifestyles. Because if we don't reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, the natural environment will be slowly destroyed. Oil in the Gulf. Drilling in environmentally sensitive natural areas. Mountaintop removal coal mining. Tar sands operations that waste and contaminate soil and water.

Amy wrote:
Let me just say, it starts with something so easy, we just don’t believe it could make a difference - conservation. Conservation is the beginning and it’s something we can all start doing today. Educate yourselves on where your energy comes from and at whose expense. Grow some of your own food. Shop less. Drive less. Give money and support to the folks out there developing renewables. Find a way to use clean energy. Fight bad energy projects.

It is easy. And it can make a difference. Most of us have probably already made some changes in  our own lives, in order to use less fuel, to support viable alternatives, and to make this world a better place. Little changes can make a big impact.

Here are some of the things that I do, simple, little things that are small steps towards big change. Perhaps they will inspire may also inspire you to know that my life, and my health have been vastly enriched by the changes I've made. Rather than suffering for the sake of my Mother earth, I am reveling in her abundance.

1. In spite of the fact that I am a city dweller, I grow a lot of my own food. I have a community garden plot, and I've devoted a fair amount of space in my back yard to gardening. This year  I'm growing tomatoes (and more tomatoes), peppers, zucchini, lettuce, onions, beans, eggpant, squash and melon. What I can't eat in season, I'll preserve. Last year I used my freezer, and this year I want to try canning. It's all new to me - while my grandmothers knew the secrets of preserving, they were unable to pass the knowledge on to me. There is nothing, absolutely nothing better than eating a tomato that was picked three minutes before it went in your mouth.

2. What I can't grow in season, I buy locally as much as I can. Buying food within a 100 mile radius ensures that the food is fresh, and that our dependence on fuel is reduced. My city has two excellent markets, and because I live in an agricultural area, I can often buy food at the farmgate. But even with markets, it's better to be careful...if the vendor can't tell you where the food was grown, even though it's advertised as local, chances are good that it's not as local as you would like. "Locally grown" has become a selling point that many are taking advantage of. I also try to buy organic as much as I can, as long as it's local. There's not much benefit in buying organic food if it's been transported three thousand miles by truck. I've found local sources for eggs, and the small amount of meat that I eat.

This year, I'm going to try and buy more local foods in bulk, to can and freeze for the winter months. Strawberries, and strawberry jam. Yum!

3 I have issues with the way animals are treated in commercial operations and slaughterhouses, but besides this, meat production is a huge waste of natural resources. It takes 2500 liters of water to produce a single pound of beef. I do eat meat, but most of the time I eat chicken that has been locally raised in humane conditions. Yes, it's a bit more expensive, but once you taste the difference....

4. I've reduced my consumption of commercially prepared, prepackaged foods. Simply put, I make it myself. No more cans of soup and Kraft Dinner. I bake my own bread, from organic flour, and my friends will tell you that I make the best cookies on the planet. It does take time. But even with a full-time job and a budding career as a writer (and a girlfriend, don't forget that I have a social life) I manage to make it work. I take one day and cook, and make what I need for a week or more. The food I make myself tastes better. And I know what's in it.

5. Reusable shopping bags. They are incredibly easy to find here. And I hate plastic packaging of any kind. Birthdays and kids' toys drive me crazy.

6. Composting keeps garbage out of the landfill and can keep your gardens rich in nutrients. I have a smallish composter in my nonexistent back yard. But even if you live in an apartment, you can compost, using a vermicomposter and worms. My city also has a municipal compost program.

7. In summer I dry all my clothes outside. In winter, I put my socks and underwear in the dryer.

8. I can't remember the last time I bought a new piece of clothing for myself. I always said that when I lost weight, I'd buy myself a whole new wardrobe. Well, I had to, since I lost 125 pounds. I think I bought myself a pair of new dress pants, at my daughter's insistence. But I find the most amazing things at local thrift shops, and I really don't need anything new. There is so much waste in the world (just wander to the toy section in a thrift shop and look at the junk that people accumulate and then throw away....). But there's a lot of good stuff out there. Just ask The Girl, who convinced herself that nothing from a thrift store would fit her. She was wrong. As a society we've convinced ourselves that buying stuff is good for the economy. Keep the money Canadian (or American as the case may be). But what are we actually accomplishing?

8. I live in an area that is central to almost everything. Sadly, I still need a car for work, but I can walk to the grocery store, and just about everywhere else, except for wal-mart. And I don't shop at wal-mart anyways. That being said, I think this is an area where I fall short.My drive to work is about fifteen minutes, that's okay. But my girlfriend lives in a city that's a two hour drive away. And I have a summer full of road trips ahead of me, which I don't want to give up.

9. I don't drink bottled water unless I absolutely have to. Like, if I'm stranded in the desert and I've forgotten my stainless steel water bottle. Plastic is a petroleum product and recycling doesn't completely right the wrong. I also try, really hard, to use a travel mug for my morning Tim's. What I really should do is give up my morning Tim's altogether and make my own coffee, but I'm not quite there, yet.

10. Educate. Our friends, our family, and most especially the children. 

This isn't an exhaustive list by any means. And there is more that I can do. The co-op I live in is looking into purchasing solar energy panels. The way it works here is that the government buys the energy you produce from solar panels, and deducts that money from your hydro bill. I would love to live off the grid someday - at least partially, but my dream home is a few years away, yet.

So, what do you do to conserve, to cut back on consumption? I'm sure that some of you have good ideas to share with me...