What is petroleum used in??

Continuing from my blog posting yesterday of our addiction to petroleum and the mess that’s been created in the Gulf, I wanted to break the discussion down in to a more tangible realistic portrayal of how oil is used in our everyday lives. And realistically, what can we do on an individual scale, as consumers, by looking to alternative solutions to everyday products that we use, which contain derivatives of petroleum. I’m only touching the beginnings of potential. Be cre8tive and perhaps suggest some other ways, in the comment section below! I dare you to make a difference and contribution 🙂

Pantyhose Silk, cotton and wool alternatives exist. Request if not available locally.
Lipstick Ask for organic or chemical-free. Vegan and hemp alternatives exist.
Crayons Beeswax and chemical free is essential.
Gum GLEE GUMis a superb alternative and can be found at health food stores.Glee Gum is all natural chewing gum made with sustainably harvested rain forest chicle.In Canada, if you can’t find that, you might find Xylitol-based natural gums at a Korean Supermarket.
Aspirin Please speak with a Naturopath or Alternative Medicine Practitioner.
Willow bark is a powerful healer, when used with care.
Solar Panels Dispose of these properly and ask about petroleum oil-free technologies.
Synthetic Fibers / Polyesters in Clothing Eco-Friendly Fabrics are available. Try to avoid organic blends (where non-organic materials can be incorporated).
  • Natural, Vegan or Lambskin condoms
  • Organic Lubricant
  • Birth Control That’s Au Naturel
  • IUD
  • Vasectomy
Toothpaste My personal favourite: Toms of Mainetoothpaste was the first natural toothpaste to be given approval from the American Dental Association.Here’s a recipe from the Instructables site for making your own toothpaste!
Mouthwash My recipe:

* 8 oz water
* 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 4 drops peppermint oil
* 4 drops tea tree
* 1 tbsp 3% peroxide

My homemade mouthwash recipe has a fabulous minty taste and helps prevent bad breath.

Baby food Vita-Mix — make your own!
Petroleum jelly (otherwise known as petrolatum or soft paraffin)
~ sometimes blended with paraffin wax and used in medicines and in many toiletries and healing moisturizers
Make your own with Beeswax as the main ingredient or try the natural vegetable product known as Cremerlin.
Petroleum (or paraffin) wax
~ used in packaging, candles, matches, shoe polish, and even candy making
Beeswax or soy wax
Asphalt Alternative asphalt solutions: Solid Earth, Ecogrid (a permeable paving solution)
Disposable Diapers Cloth diapers, foregoing diapers or at least using disposable diapers that are chlorine-free or made from recycled materials.

A Man-Made Disaster

Oil Spill Interrupted

fossil fuel usage“Marine biology and environmental experts said they feared the aggressive cleanup operation, during which oil has been set alight and oil-dispersing chemicals have been dumped into the sea, might be more damaging than the oil itself. …. The chemically cleaned up areas have taken the longest to recover and they are still damaged. The areas that were left alone actually recovered much quicker.”

Truly, honestly, in the 71st day of mass oil bleeding into the Gulf, could it possibly get any worse? According to the above statement, we’ve made it far worse than anything ever imagined possible. We need to find alternatives to our petroleum addiction.

Petroleum is such a huge component of our lives, reaching far beyond the fuel that we consume in our cars (although the transportation industry is oil’s top user … think planes, trains and automobiles).

In their blog, Triple Diamond Energy Corporation, a Texas-based oil and gas production and exploration company, breaks down the three major uses of petroleum:

  1. The transportation sector remains the greatest single user of petroleum: petroleum-based products, especially motor gasoline, distillate (diesel) fuel, and jet fuel, provide virtually all of the energy consumed within the transportation industry.
  2. The industrial sector is the second largest consumer ~ Petrochemical raw materials are converted to basic chemical building blocks and intermediates (such as ethylene, propylene, normal- and iso-butylenes, butadiene, and aromatics such as benzene, toluene, and xylene). In turn, all these chemicals are used to produce plastics found in our everyday objects. If you think Petroleum Jelly is a healthy product to use, think again …
  3. The residential / commercial including the electric utility sectors account for the remaining petroleum consumption ~ the heating oil used to keep our buildings warm; in medicines, food, plastics, and even in the clothes we wear.

As North Americans, here are some interesting statistics that might bring the reality a bit closer to home (as adapted from the book “Power Trip: From Oil Wells to Solar Cells—Our Ride to the Renewable Future” by Amanda Little:

Americans consume nearly 800 million gallons of oil—about 20 times more than the total estimated volume of crude that has spilled into the Gulf so far. Each of us, on average, consumes about 30 percent more oil everyday than the average European, and roughly 40 percent more oil per day than the average citizen of Japan.

That’s a whole lot of dependence on a diminishing resource … we seem to have an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. Are eco-friendly alternative fuels the answer? How about nuclear power? Biofuels? Tapping solar and wind energy? The use of algae as a green source of energy? What about biodegradable products and packaging (aka bioplastics ~ think potato, corn starch, soy, sugarcane based, used in lieu of the plastic derivatives used in our everyday lives)? For example, do we really need to double-wrap our bread loaves and ‘package’ all of our organic fresh produce separate from the conventional counterparts, especially when it’s pitched as soon as we get home? But then do we open a whole new can of worms by using these alternative food sources for bioplastics and biofuels, creating a food shortage instead?

renewable raw materialsOur current reality: the time is coming where we really won’t have a choice but to look to alternatives. At the rate we’re going, the world oil supply will inherently decline in the near future. We’re rapidly using up our fossil fuel supply (and bleeding a good portion of it into our oceans, creating an even larger man-made disaster).

So many possibilities, and more importantly many solutions, are available with today’s available technology, brainpower and resources. There will always be downfalls to any consumable available to humankind. There are far too many humans on this planet to find the perfect solution in a one-size fits all bundle. But realistically, the time has come. Up to this point, it seems that we as a society have been slow to recognize our own roles, as consumers, in the catastrophe. It’s time to step outside of the box and our comfort zone, look towards a community less reliant on the use of petroleum in our everyday lives and move to alternative sources of energy, power and petroleum-derivative objects.

Perhaps, instead of being totally distraught by what’s going on around the planet where we have little control over the outcome or current situation, why not try to make a difference at home, in the workplace and in the community. Did you know that the biggest consumable of energy in our lives isn’t our cars, but rather is our homes. Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletter GOOP divulges that our homes are demanding huge amounts of energy and are emitting roughly double the amount of CO2 as the car in our driveways. Take a step beyond that. ‘Greening’ our homes, perhaps becoming Energy Star compliant, and efficient with our power usage at home is a fantastic place to start. Ditching our reliance on plastic water bottles and using a reusable container. Rather than buying new, new, new, reusing the plethora of resources already out there. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This is my mantra, and I hope it becomes yours.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:  use secondhand clothing for both adults and children; reuse office products such as binders, plastics, paper; commute to and from work, or see if you can work from home for a day or two each week; grow your own garden or buy locally grown food which is sustainable and supporting local business; BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) for shopping rather than purchasing plastic bags; take public transit or employ personal peddle power to get around …). You get the picture. Now go make a difference. 🙂

Sun and wind, oh my!

Airstream glowA quiet but windy day at Skydive Burnaby, ending with an incredible sunset that took my breath away.

Ho, hum, humid and hot … welcome home to Ontario!

We had been quite spoiled living in Calgary. Cowtown summers are divine. Temperate, dry and perfect for skydiving (as long as the wind doesn’t pick up too dramatically). I’m definitely not used to these high winds coming off of Lake Erie … when I start flying video again for the tandem students, I may have to move somewhat outside of my comfort zone with the winds, or I’ll never get the opportunity to jump!

DZ shadows

Weekend of Skydiving at Burnaby

Will YouAn exciting weekend of skydiving and happenings at the drop zone. There was:

  • a wedding proposal and she said “YES”  ~~ first time tandem student, Marko, made a sign for his beloved’s tandem jump, so that, either under canopy or on the ground, she would see the question ‘Will you Marry Me?”. She was overjoyed. What a brilliant moment!
  • 1 lost dog ~~ Local jumpers J+J quickly adopted this stray, the 2nd of their rescue canines. Somewhat brave considering J is about to have their first child!
  • the drawing of blood for Boz by one of his Tandem students ~~ Boz had a student who freaked out for the entire skydive, kicking and maintaining a death grip on his hands, drawing blood from Boz. At pull time, she would not let go, so he had no choice but to bite her, twice, in the hopes she would release him for pull time. I suppose it was either that or a head butt. We’ll have to get him a sticker for the bottom of his shoes (when he wears them) that says ‘Bite Me’ :).
  • a golf cart mishap in which slaDE was thrown off the back by the Otter pilot who was driving it ~~ As slaDE was being transported back to the hangar from his tandem jump (rig and canopy in hand), Trevor somehow swerved enough to send a surprised slaDE careening off the back, on to his back, a quick PLF saving him from injury. Trevor deserves a sticker that says: “I can drive a mean Otter, but stick me in a golf cart, and your ass is toast”
  • a tandem student that passed out on slaDE~ under canopy ~~ Luckily she came to just before landing, but he still had to do a ‘tandem PLF’ with this 6 foot beauty.
  • a baby bird taking it’s first flight ~~ Can’t say I’ve ever seen that before. First attempt, the fledgling basically fell out of the tree, but a kind skydiver fetched him with a stick and gently placed him back on his tree branch to try yet again. Mama bird was squawking like crazy!
  • a first yoga class for skydivers here at the dz, taught by slaDE and myself ~~ Good fuN and possibly a growing trend here!

Greg and sKYPersonally, I met up with some old skydiving friends whom I haven’t seen in years. Was great seeing and visiting with them all! Many were part of the Guy Wright Invitational 20 Way jumps. Yes, belly flyers … that’d be my homies :). Alas, it was a social weekend for me, despite my desire to get much needed admin and tax paperwork done. Wow, am I ever good at this procrastination thing!

Darien Lake

Ferris Wheel

Five years ago my dear friend L and I  had the intention to go to Darien Lake in celebration of our mutual day of birth. However, with a wounded wing postponing our adventure, I was intent on making the trip once healed and in the area (we’ve been in Calgary for the past 4 summers). My birth-date twin unfortunately could not take the day off from work, but her awesome husband and lovely son blessed us with their company, as did my best girlfriend Ms Daisy, and her 4 beautiful children.

It was a fabulous day with such beautiful weather and voluminous puffy clouds to enhance our experience (visualize fluffy marshmallows in your peripheral vision whilst careening upside down and every which way). The kids — both big and small — adored their time to laugh, explore and be giddy, whilst enjoying the thrill of amusement.


Lumberjack ladder climb

Return to Burnaby

DaisyAlas, all good things must come to an end. We were fortunate to have 3 whole days on the farm midweek. A treat considering slaDE~ is the full-time Tandem Instructor during the week at Skydive Burnaby. Seems that the rainy weather was on our side :). penicillin shotBefore leaving, Dad had to give Lady a penicillin shot for a laceration on her hind ankle that wasn’t quite healing (she keeps licking the Boron spray making it raw and open to flies, infection and such). I’ve never seen such a huge needle! But Lady took the shot in stride.

Packed up and ready to go, we made our way back to the drop zone, enjoying a few photo ops along the route. On our way through Kitchener, we stopped off at the Best Buy store to see if we could get a warranty replacement on our Garmin 765WT. We’ve only had it for 6 months, and the GPS charger is already broken. Very sucky, considering that Best Buy wouldn’t replace or fix the unit … bought in the USA and it needs to be returned to the manufacturer (Garmin) rather than to the BB store.

Mennonite buggy

Ho hum. Might buy the extended warranty on our next unit. The GPS as well has already give us difficulties and keeps rebooting for no apparent reason, at least 2-3 times per week (when we’re heavy travelling on the road). However, we find that the GPS is a useful tool for our lifestyle, and

Mennonite boys cycling

Garmin seems to have the best GPSs out there on the market. Any experiences with a GPS that you’d like to share??

Pedicures of the Equine Kind

trailer loadinghoof trimmingAlthough I absolutely adore going home, returning to the farm usually means a shift in my daily routine and sleeping schedule. Ever since returning to a ‘life of luxury’ (aka no official job title ~ outside of my freelance meanderings ~ with set start times), we’ve seldom had to use an alarm clock and we’ve pretty much been able to sleep in until we’re ready to start our day. However, when returning to the farm, around 7:30 or 8 am, the day starts whether we like it or not! Dad is up and in motion, with jobs ready to be accomplished, racing from project to project, conquering the world with each and every breath each takes! Regardless of whether I went to bed at 2:30am (like I did last night), there is no sleeping in for me. Ugh. I don’t do so well on less than 7 hours of sleep. However, this morning I was really excited to bolt out of bed, like a kid on Christmas morning. Today we were taking the horses, along with Daisy the mule, to the local Mennonite farm, where the animals would have their hoofs trimmed and cleaned. I’ve never had such an adventure before, and any opportunity to visit with the Mennonites is a rare moment indeed.

hoof trim

So we rounded up the team, loaded them on the trailer, and made our way just down the road to Elias’ farm and shop. Along the rafters, a string of horseshoes stood proudly on display. But today, no horseshoes would be attached. They’re basically for road geldings, used to protect the animal’s feet from wear and tear. Our horses are field horses. And it was time to give them their pedicure!

Such an awesome experience, seeing the personalities of each horse shine through. Lady was calm and collected, patient while the craftsman tooled away at her hooves. Flossy was a bit more difficult and restless, whilst Stanley was downright stubborn and not wanting to be there in that moment. Daisy is too young for her hooves to be trimmed, but Dad took the opportunity to put a face harness on her. horseshoesSimple success! And this halter will remain with Daisy for her life’s duration. A bit of her innocence has been lost, but luckily, she still remains acutely affectionate and remarkably cuddly. Oh how I love having the team in Dad’s backyard. They add such character and warmth, to have and to love whenever we decide to return back to the country.

An additional bonus to our excursion was the ability to photograph the experience. Because Elias has a great working relationship with my Father, he was happy to oblige my whimsical wishes to take photographs. Fantastic! Hope you enjoy them :).steel wheels

Blogging Privacy aka the Meaning behind my Blog

privacy settingsToday was such a wonderful day, spent with my older sister Blue and my nephew Forrester. We had a whole afternoon together, enjoying a family lunch and hours of conversation. And I would so love to post those photos, yet at the same time, I want to respect my sister’s wishes. She specifically wants to maintain her privacy and thus not have such photos online.

Obviously, through the medium of WordPress, I’ve chosen a different path. I love to document my life, leaving much of my existence open to public perusal. I do, at times find this unnerving, but at the same time, I achieve much joy in my writing, exploring and delving further into my journey, public as it may be. Since 2006, I’ve had a blog in my name, infused with my photos and effused with my impetuous thoughts and meanderings. It’s amazing to think the amount of character information which exists in this one portal, my blog, documenting my existence.

Somewhat scary and eerie, the more that I think about it, but at the same time, blogging is a natural and authentic part of who I am. I find it easier to communicate my mental imagery and conversations by vocalizing through finger input. That delay in thought-to-finger gives me the chance to edit, audit and rethink what the final copy will be. A manner of sorts where I think before I vocalize, while at the same time, not really thinking too hard about what it is I am in fact writing about. Hard to explain and potentially hard to understand, but when it comes right down to it, my passion for writing hopefully shines through in my daily ramblings, no holds barred. Privacy? What privacy!

Mules and such ….

Daisy and sKYIt was scheduled to be a quiet week for Skydive Burnaby, so slaDE and I decided to meander up to my Father’s farm in Teeswater. Returning home always has this magical healing effect that shifts and changes priorities, melding my soul deeper with nature, connecting me to the Mother Earth in no other way. The memories evoked by my return to the country transports me back to childhood days where I had:

  • developed a love for the environment, unattainable through town living (I spent half my childhood life between town and the farm)
  • revelations of discovery about the land and the hard, backbreaking work entailed to cultivate its essence
  • fresh country air filling every ounce of my being
  • a wealth of knowledge, education and appreciation for Mother Earth.

DaisyAs an adult, the healing nature of a journey home is no different. slaDE has discovered this true magical adventure as well. Blessed we are!

There were a few new additions upon our return … the horses had been moved from the other farm to Dad’s backyard in the grazing pasture, surrounded by the newly laid fencing from our last visit. And a newborn mule named ‘Daisy’ was eager to vie for our attention and affection. Such a sweet sweet personality!  The new stray cat was also in want of devoted admiration. We certainly had a captive audience in our return to the country. AWESOME.Horses and a MuleslaDE and Daisy

Summer Solstice, the here and now.

sunflowersThe first day of Summer! Such an exciting and welcome season for me. I can’t help but remember days in my youth when the thought of summer meant Freedom! Long lazy days spent pursuing life as I knew it without the influence of school, assignments, tests and all that was associated with my academic years. But now that I’m an adult with different responsibilities and priorities, I wanted to take a moment to honour what this summer means to me in this present moment, living back in Ontario (in Alberta I had a completely different summer relationship):

  • long, long skydiving days
  • early to rise, late to eat dinner
  • shimmering blue bird skies
  • thundering tower-heads
  • lucky lazy afternoon walks by the beach, tepid Lake Erie waters tugging at my feet
  • suicidal mosquitoes and insects painting our truck with their artistic flair
  • deer flies, larger than life mosquitoes, pesky schizophrenic flies, perpetually multiplying fruit flies, viral deer tics
  • farmer’s markets with plentiful locally-grown fresh food
  • late night camp fires
  • yummy fruity Vita-Mix smoothies and sorbets
  • chocolate popsicles
  • spontaneous road-trips
  • reluctant yet at times feverish moments of longing for air conditioning
  • stripped down skydiving jumps
  • happy people delirious for the short-lived moments of guaranteed sunshine and warmth (before the return of yet another long-winded Canadian winter :))
  • delicious moments of complete surrender to the sun, moon and stars
  • our wedding anniversary
  • sharing birthdays with my best girlfriends
  • precious time with my family (this summer anyway!)
  • festivals and outdoor bands (I’ll miss you Calgary Folk Festival!)
  • sidewalk chalk bandits
  • trampoline moments
  • happy upbeat summer songs enjoyed in my more-often walks and yoga practice
  • the smell and feel of fresh cut grass
  • lavenderfields of dandelions and sunflowers and lavender
  • watermelon kisses
  • hot weather
  • sweaty smelly bodies
  • laundry hanging out to dry
  • the need to drink more water than usual
  • slathered on sunscreen
  • family picnics and gatherings

I probably could go on and on, but I’ll spare you. These moments of Canadian summer bliss have me loving life and appreciating the days of warmth and sunshine to the maX!

What has you excited about the summer now upon us (for those in the Northern hemisphere anyway)?