Verona

Verona, within a historic region of Eastern Ontario, has a population of about 1,800. It lies at the southern edge of the Canadian Shield, where the friendly mix of farmland, rocky-shored lakes, and mixed woodland make it the ideal place to visit with our Airstream. It kind of feels like cottage country, and with Verona being so small, the lovely mix of wildlife, vast expanses of nature, clean fresh air and peacefulness has me feeling right at home in the country. And when it comes right down to it, I’m a country girl at heart.

Agnes and Wally have a lovely older home with a big backyard, large lovely trees, a lake just a stones throw away and a humorous gaggle of Chipmunks that squabble for food amongst each other. I can say that I’ve never hand-fed or petted a little Chipmunk. They’re really quite sweet!

Typical of many small towns and cities, a Farmer’s Market was in full swing early Saturday morning. I really love to support local farmers, especially when they opt for environmentally friendly practises in their food production. It’s interesting to find myself so instantly at home in this small community. I can walk everywhere quite easily. Parking our Airstream on the front lawn was not an issue either (which in larger communities, this can pose a problem). Seems that as long as I have Wifi, space to stretch, breath and move, and readily available healthy eating options, I am happy to settle down wherever we may wander. Life is good!

Market Days

Red SunflowersGiant zucchiniI love going to a Farmer’s Market, especially in the height of seasonal goodness! Every Friday morning in Port Colborne, when in town, I’ve been diligent about cruising the fresh produce stands of the local community farmers, recycled bags at hand, ready to reel in my healthy purchases.

And everywhere I look, glorious colours vie for attention, flowers are at their peak bloom, fragrances of summer fruits and vegetables peak my senses and the sounds of the early morning buzz ring melodic harmonies as a plethora of visitors and marketeers banter in a glorious exchange for the fresh produce and goods. Truly, a photographer’s dream, whether it be a Canadian market in the height of summer, or a foreign emporium in the heart of Africa or India. I am drawn by the local colour and culture, intrinsically attuned to the community which survives on collective abundance and local initiative. I feel inspired by the beauty of Nature and Mother Earth’s plentiful offerings.

fresh local vegetables

Long live the sustainability of local farmers in these dark environmental times of challenge, uncertainty and food questionability and security. We are so blessed to have these offerings provided with love from the land, where there is nothing for want and the variety and selection of summer edibles is varied, tasty, inspired and vital.

I really love this pledge made by the local citizens of Berkshire, Massachusetts. Wouldn’t we be a healthier and more bountiful society if we could support our local communities in the same way?

“I pledge to buy and utilize locally grown food and food products to the extent that I am able and to serve my community by educating others about the many benefits of buying and eating locally. I take pride in supporting local farmers and producers who preserve and sustain the beauty and bounty of the Berkshire region.”

Oil Slick Woes

I’ve held back on speaking of the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf. My heart is incredibly heavy, thinking about the dire damage to Mother Earth and the delicate ecosystem in our oceans, which WILL eventually filter up through our food and water chain. The desecration of our Ocean and the life contained within is beyond comprehension (at 5000 feet below the surface), especially when it appears that coverups are occurring, lost amidst all the finger pointing and the rising tides of blame. More than a month has passed (40 days to be exact), and the oil continues to spew at alarming rates with no clear solutions in sight. A toxic stew of environmental and political magnitude.

Huffington Post reported that:

A thick, 22-mile plume of oil discovered by researchers off the BP spill site was nearing an underwater canyon, where it could poison the foodchain for sealife in the waters off Florida. With the hopes of breaking up the plume, BP is using 100,000 gallons of dispersants (1/3 of the world’s supply) on the oil, further contaminating the ocean with harmful chemicals.

soiled birdNot enough research has been done on the wide-scale use of such compounds. In fact these chemicals are amplifying an evolving never-experienced-before catastrophe, with no end in sight.

What’s the worst case scenario? Even if they plug the well tomorrow? The present repercussions and tally thus far: dead animals, contaminated wildlife sanctuaries, black beaches, and livelihoods ruined. Add to the mix, the impending hurricane storm season. High winds may distribute the oil over a wider area whilst also mixing the waters of the Golf, dispersing the oil further. Add to that, a hurricane force storm could push all this oil in to the coast where an incredibly fertile estuary exists with abundant life taking place. For example, the Monterey Bay Aquarium cites that the magnificent Atlantic bluefin tuna arrive in the Gulf to spawn in April and May every year, and in waters at the heart of the oil spill. Deep breath. Pray and meditate for all those in the south. They’re in for a bumpy ride. Who knew that the sludge would hit the fan deeper than Katrina’s forces?

With failure comes the opportunity for tremendous learning opportunities and change. If anything, perhaps now is the time that we can do the right thing by our oceans. For example, seeking out and developing alternative energy sources. A big question lies in how quickly is it practical to shift without hurting the economy and outpacing science? By empowering individuals to end their oil dependance through small lifestyle changes, such as: promoting electric vehicles, investing in light rail, creating pedestrian- and bike-friendly communities and exploiting alternatives such as natural gas, we as a society have the capability to assume action now. Take control of what’s possible rather than place ones power with Politicians and the large oil companies who have vested interests in the power of energy.

Laundry Tips and Recipes

Being the change that I wish to see in the world is all about taking personal responsibility for the planet which we all share, love and call home. Because we live in a world (and climate) that necessitates clothing in our daily living, today’s tips and recipes focuses on how we can make a difference in the way we approach washing our garments. For me, my most important focus is in doing laundry is about energy conservation and being cognizant about what goes into the septic system. Here’s a few interesting facts from the Laundry List website

  • Approximately one quarter of Americans use an ENERGY STAR washer. There are no ENERGY STAR dryers on the market.
  • Less than 4% of Italian households own a dryer. [Yay for the Italians!]
  • Apartment communities can save 330 percent more water, equating to a savings of 8,216 gallons of water per year per unit, by utilizing a common-area laundry room instead of an in-unit washing machine.
  • We estimate that 8% of households line-dry their laundry during 5 months of the year. If all Americans who currently do not use a clothesline started to use one for ten months of the year, we could avoid 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, annually.

For the very last reason listed above, I wanted to provide you with a list of 10 reasons about how line drying your clothing can have a significant impact on your life, as printed by the Project Laundry List:

Top Ten Reason to Line Dry

10) Save money (more than $25/month off electric bill for many households).

9) Clothes last longer. Where do you think lint comes from?

8) Clothes and linens smell better without adding possibly toxic chemicals to your body and the environment.

7) Conserve energy and the environment, while reducing climate change.Learn how!

6) It is moderate physical activity which you can do in or outside. You can even lose weight!

5) Sunlight bleaches and disinfects.

4) Indoor racks can humidify in dry winter weather.

3) Clothes dryer and washing machine fires account for about 17,700 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 360 injuries annually. The yearly national fire loss for clothes dryer fires in structures is estimated at $194 million.

2) It is fun! And can be an outdoor experience that is meditative and community-building. It may also help you avoid depression.

1) Demonstrates that small steps can make a difference. You don’t have to wait for the government to take action!

Did you know that: you don’t even need soap to wash most loads. The agitation of washing machines often cleans the clothing on its own (especially with High-Efficiency washing machines). But because most of us have grown up with the use of strong detergents and softeners in the cleaning of our clothes, below I’d like to gift you my all-time favourite, environmentally-friendly laundry detergent recipe.

Laundry Detergent Recipe:   Mix –

  • 1 cup  grated Fels Naptha soap (or Ivory soap),
  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup borax

Use 1 tablespoon for light loads; 2 tablespoons for heavy loads.

laundry-soap

Furthermore, as a booster to your laundry, Tipnut.com recommends white distilled vinegar as an incredibly versatile resource: Color Brightener; Color Protector; Whiter Whites; Yellowed Items Reviver; Heavy Duty Pre-Soak; Lint Busters; Fabric Softener; and, Ring Around The Collar Remover.

Building Fences

tree-pruningCountry living. If you have the perception that life out in the country is laid back as a snail with no worries or stress, I’d like you to experience life with my Father for a day. He lives out in the ‘boondocks’ as one might say. Farmland as far as the eye can see. Long stretches of highway with intermittent towns. Urban life? Distant and surreal. However, growing up on a farm, I am all too cognizant of the realities of farm life.From sunup to sundown, there are perpetual tasks to do. Trimming of trees, landscaping of lawn, garden and trees, tending of animals and building of fences. Just a few of the tasks on my Father’s farm(s). I’m finding that the time for a speedy walk in the morning is a luxury for many!

muddy-boots

And at the end of the day, exercise is plentiful with the daily farm chores, sans the morning walk. And for the past week, numerous hands have aided in building the new fence surrounding the west-wing paddock. Hoping to move his horses from the other farm, Dad has taught himself the art of building fences, gleaning from techniques of the local Mennonites. Beautiful pine posts have been purchased, 500 in total. The Mennonites farm the trees from outside sources and process them, stripped of bark, barren in all their beauty. And one by one, fencing wire is strung between the stoic posts, which are augered and planted at 20 foot paces. It’s been a week-long process, with rotating handymen / women to lend aid in building an otherwise unnoticed countryside phenomenon. In the evenings, musical communities have come together, jamming on a variety of instruments to the tune of Old Time Country. Hard to believe that in the middle of nowhere Dad’s farm is a creative haven of activity, with a music room to boot! Unending pace, fresh clean air, glorious brilliant stars, nature views that make my heart pitter patter. So happy to return to this place I call home. A farm girl I am.

sunsetBuilding fences, forming communities, shaping relationships, founding musical freedom. Life doesn’t get much better!

Baking Soda Delights in the Kitchen

I love the fact that I can use natural and environmentally friendly products in the home to clean, cook, beautify and deodorize my world. Any part that I can do to reduce, reuse and recycle in the most efficient and least harmful manner is incredibly important to me. Some of my most used and favourite household items that I use everyday are baking soda and vinegar. In honour of every day being Earth Day (in my household it is!), I wanted to pass on these useful and original vintage recommendations offered up through one of my favourite resource websites for environmentally friendly tips: TipNut.

Hope these prove to be practical, helpful and fruitful (pun intended!) for you in your kitchen food prep and cooking. These tips have been sourced from a recipe booklet published in 1936 by Church & Dwight Company, Inc. (Arm & Hammer and Cow Brand baking sodas).
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Tips for committing to change for a better planet: 10 by 10

Here’s a mammoth posting for Earth Week, cutting out the clutter and getting straight to the point of focus on environmental issues.

These tips come from a website called: 10 By 10 ~ the website offer ways for you, as an individual, a chance to voice your commitments to change and thus to creating a better planet. 10 By 10 asks that you choose a minimum of 1 to a maximum 10 of the commitments (which I list below).

What commitments are you willing to make and uphold?!!! If you’re like me, try to do as many as you can rather than limit yourself to just 10, each and every day.

Together, we can make the world a better place. Be a Eco-Hero! 🙂

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Happy EARTH DAY! ReDuce, ReUse, ReCycle

Travelling across the US of A for the past 5 months has certainly had its challenges in the recycling department, especially when compared to the structured and effective salvaging system we were used to when living in Canada. It seemed that as soon as we crossed the border in to Michigan, the concept of recycling seemed as foreign as we are, being from North of the border: strange, interesting, but not always welcome. Unwilling to bear witness to and become part of that mentality / inaction, I / we made it a point to store all our recyclables, tucked away in a box for that opportune time to deploy our excess consumables to the recycling godS. On top of recycling, I was fretting over our inability to find community gardens for the veggie and fruit cuttings. We had been lusciously spoiled in Calgary with our weekly composting treks, and I was uncertain as to how we could maintain the cycle of returning our organic matter back to Mother Earth. With the encouragement of a socially responsible Yogini, we’ve been digging holes across America, fertilizing the ground with our plant offerings. So in our own small way, every day is Earth Day in our travels and life, where we celebrate the wonders and beauty of nature’s beauty around us, treasuring our natural resources and trying to do our part in minimizing our ecological footprint.

How about you? Did you take an active part in the proceedings? How can you / your community strive each and every day to celebrate our Mother Earth and our biodiversity, by being the change in creating a new vision, a new way and therefore a new planet? Yes, we can save the planet, one step and action at a time.

Here are just a few ideas of ways to give back:

  • Support the David Suzuki Foundation
  • Swap books for Earth Week
  • Buy certified organic products
  • Counter your freight and travel footprint with green power (i.e. travel sustainably; support alternative green transport methods — bicycle, carpool, telecommute, walk, etc)
  • Buy green packaging (hint: even packaging pellets are made from vegetables starches which can be thrown into a composter!)
  • Eat for a healthy planet (i.e. compost; eat sustainable food sources — organic, local; avoid red-listed seafoods)

ReDuce, ReUse and ReCycle

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