Beaches and stuff

Two days in a row! What to do when it’s windy and non-skydiveable in Florida? Why throw an Aerobie around and then head to the beach, of course!

Clearwater Beach with Patrick and Tom Calandra was the choice for today’s adventure. Unexpectedly, the winds by the ocean were calm and warm. A gorgeous afternoon to sit, have an late lunch, then beach-comb along the butter-like white fine sandy beach for cool shells and photo opportunities. Several powered paragliders swooped the shore, whilst the sun danced in the sky. We sauntered along Pier 60, toying with the giant Pelicans and Blue Heron as they perched unabashedly close, in search of treats perhaps. No fear of us humans whatsoever! I was in photographer’s paradise with the skies painted a blazing orange and yellow canvas for our backdrop. Heaven on earth indeed.

Zephyrhills: Not So Recycle Friendly

My friend Minna and I went in to town, looking to replenish our grocery supplies, whilst hoping to find a place to recycle our glass bottles (aka lots of beer from the New Year’s celebrations) and Minna’s plastic ‘Zephyrhills Water’ bottles. After much querying and driving around town, we found one sole lonely recycling centre. Sadly for us, they only dealt with recycling of aluminum, tin and other metals. On the Zhills water bottle and website, they clearly state: “We recommend that our water bottles be recycled, not reused. Every bottle produced by NWNA is recyclable, including our clear caps ….. Consumers can reduce the overall environmental impact associated with drinking a bottle of water by 25%, just by recycling the bottle after use. Recycled bottles are in high demand for use in products such as fabric, carpeting and other consumer goods.” Well big flippin deal! It seems that they’re are ALL talk, no action. There is NO public recycling facility in Zephyrhills to even deal with all the wasteful plastic product that this company is producing. I tried truly. I drove all over town, asking shops and manufacturers where I could drop off the plastic and glass recycling that we’ve been toting around for the past few weeks. Nothing, zippo, zilch. I’ve never been a big fan of plastic water bottles (I used to be a proud owner of a Sigg 100% recyclable aluminum water bottle (Lululemon baby!), but it went AWOL when I arrived at our current destination). Love the drop zone, not so fond of the city and corporate politics. Now I’m begrudging of the Zephyrhills Water parent company, especially now. They say:  ‘Less plastic, better environment’. Ok, if this were the truth, people shouldn’t be drinking from plastic water bottles period. And even then, if they do, this eco-logical slogan only works if there are recycling depots available that effectively deal with the burgeoning load of plastic trash mounds! The big recycling question that exists in my mind: where does our recycled plastic and goods go? Check out the 5 Gyres website to be truly informed. Plastic … the irresponsible use of our disposable and ‘plastic’ mentality is a weighty, unyielding incessant and often-hidden worldwide problem. I so want to scream at the top of my lungs: “Stop using plastic (and styrofoam — a whole other issue) wherever you can”. Make it a resolution if you must. Easier said than done, I know. Even the organic produce, the bread, the frozen fruit for our smoothies, the yogurt containers, etc etc that we purchase are often either contained or wrapped in plastic. There’s hardly any escape, even with the healthiest of food choices and options available. “Most of what we eat, drink, or use in any way comes packaged in petroleum plastic- a material designed to last forever, yet used for products that we then throw away.” What’s wrong with this picture?? What is the resultant problem of our persistent use of plastic? “The short-term convenience of using and throwing away plastic products carries a very inconvenient long-term truth.” Plastic is clogging up our oceans, contaminating the food chain and asphyxiating us with it’s toxic fumes and chemical residue.

Recycle FAIL!

It all starts with a mindset and an intention. My goal in this life // to walk softly on this earth. Through example and education, and to finding solutions when roadblocks pop up where I least expect.

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.”

51 days and counting … where does our personal responsibility lie?

“Some 25 million to 39 million gallons of oil are estimated to have gone into the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers.”
Lest we forget, our oceans have no borders, boundaries or barrier walls. I’m of the belief that powerful ocean currents could potentially make this an epic global catastrophe, especially with the ominous hurricane season threatening the deep south. Additionally, 20-60% of crude oil evaporates. Tell me that this won’t settle on to our crops, in to our water system, dispersed in the air we breath. MILLION of GALLONS. Gasp ….. This is has gone on far too long. 51 days to be exact.

I want to provide you with a few excellent links to further educate yourself on the oil spills devastating effects:

A pictorial of the BP Oil Disaster … Forgive Us. http://www.greaterfool.ca/2010/06/04/forgive-us

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Mote’s Response http://www.mote.org/index.php?src=gendocs&ref=Gulf%20of%20Mexico%20Oil%20Spill&category=Marine%20Policy%20Institute

A link for visualizing the BP Oil Disatser http://www.ifitwasmyhome.com

What happens to the oil when a hurricane strikes? http://www.businessinsider.com/what-happens-to-the-oil-when-a-hurricane-strikes-2010-6

Oil on the Water: The Physics of Oil Spills http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37517080/ns/disaster_in_the_gulf

http://oseculoprodigioso.blogspot.com/2007/06/clemente-francesco-neo-expressionismo.html

© Clemente, Francesco - Neo-Expressionismo

How many more days will this continue?? And what can I do in the here and now? Where does my personal responsibility lie? Is it time for a reset on the way that we live? Where can we make better choices in reducing our consumption of fuel, plastics and energy?

Examining the life we lead, slaDE~ and I currently tow our Airstream, our home, behind us as we pursue our dreams. I’m grateful for the relatively good fuel mileage that we get at approximately 15-17 mpg when towing the trailer, 22-25 mpg with the truck on its own. The question is, how can we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels? I’m seriously invested in finding a solution to alternative fuels, such as bio-diesel, to fuel our diesel truck. I would love to see the production of algae and kelp as an alternative fuel source. I wonder if kelp could be grown in the Gulf (kelp grows at astonishingly quick speeds), feeding on the hydrocarbons for energy in the spilled oil?  We could go farther in living a cleaner greener more respectful energy efficient lifestyle … and solar power is one of the most attractive sustainable options that I’d love to add to the Airstream (our current solar panel is dysfunctional). Additionally, a solar oven perhaps? Continuing to use our solar water heater (a black plastic camp shower bag that heats up the water for washing dishes, etc) is a proactive solution which I enjoy. Eating locally grown organic food is a positive step to the greater good. Reducing (and recycling where necessary) our use of plastics is a biggie, especially as plastics originate from fossil fuels. Composting any organic matter (think digging holes across America), and recycling our belongings, allows us to keep our disposables out of the landfill … an incredible bonus. Any other ideas out there for maintaining a environmentally friendly lifestyle on the road?

As a side-note, jumping out of planes for recreation has me torn … a guilty passion which uses huge amounts of fuel. Not sure how to address this one without giving up on my dream of flight??!

Mea maxima culpa …. Collectively WE are responsible for Nature and Mother Earth.  Where would we be if we lived on an empty planet, void of the green and beauty of nature? What if the rainbows of colour didn’t exist for us to to paint our dreams around, fashioning and moulding a kaleidoscopic canvas of beautiful vision? What kind of future would we hope for, dream for, breath in?

Alone we must survive, but why not make it a better place for all? Nature helps us to thrive, be alive and blossom. The call is strong and alive, present in every media angle we may subscribe to. Stop pollution where you can, be vital, function beyond the extraordinary, make a difference and be an advocate and champion for our environment, our planet, our Mother Earth. Step by step, breath by breath, one by one, we CAN make a difference.

Our spirit may soar free,
but why live life just for me!
With time, I will stagnate and die.
But can I do this before merging with the sky?
Can I learn the lessons before crashing and burning?
Or will I offer to others a bittersweet yearning …

For comfort, for joy, for simple pleasures found in Nature.

Spreading my happiness at being one with my Mother,
she that giveth plenty and to which I shall one day return.
From dust to ashes I will bequeath my final responsibility.
Returning to the Earth, to my roots, to my ancestors.
The ultimate score. The life’s lessons, visions, touchings and inspirations which I may have left behind, fostered for future generations.
Let your spirit soar in the least destructive way you know.
Be kind to your Mother.
For one day, you shall return.

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

~ © Katherine  sKY:: Weishar

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.

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

Continue reading

DIY Household Enviro-Friendly Cleaners!

DIY CleanersTired of spending a fortune on something that’s simple and easy to make, when it comes to keeping the home clean, safe and eco-friendly?
I’m all for the simplicity and purity of these ideas. Mother Earth comes out ahead, as does you and your family’s health (and wallet).
Try adding essential oils at your own discretion. Of course, I’m all about the good and natural smellies :). I can provide you with those, if you feel inspired and in need.
Enjoy!

DIY HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS

The healthiest, least-toxic cleaners you can find are the ones you make yourself. They’re effective too: According to a study at Virginia Tech, spraying hydrogen peroxide and vinegar right after one another is just as effective at killing germs as lung-irritating, stream-polluting chlorine bleach. Here are a few easy cleaner recipes to kick-start your Saturday chores.

EIGHT ESSENTIALS
These eight items make up the basic ingredients for nearly every do-it-yourself cleaning recipe.

  • Baking soda: provides grit for scrubbing and reacts with water, vinegar or lemon by fizzing, which speeds up cleaning times
  • Borax: disinfects, bleaches and deodorizes; very handy in laundry mixes
  • Distilled white vinegar: disinfects and breaks up dirt; choose white vinegar over apple cider or red vinegars, as these might stain surfaces
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: disinfects and bleaches
  • Lemons: cut grease; bottled lemon juice also works well, although you might need to use bit more to get the same results
  • Olive oil: picks up dirt and polishes wood; cheaper grades work well
  • Vegetable based (liquid castile) soap: non-petroleum all-purpose cleaners
  • Washing soda: stain remover, general cleaner, helps unblock pipes; should be handled with gloves due to its caustic nature. Washing soda is usually found in the laundry aisle of grocery and drug stores.

Don’t forget to pick up an empty spray bottle at the hardware store, and keep those old rags and used toothbrushes for wiping up and scrubbing.

WHOLE HOUSE

All-Purpose Cleaner
1/2 cup borax
1 gallon hot water

Mix in pail (or use smaller amounts in a spray bottle: 1/8 cup borax to 1 quart of hot water) dissolving the borax completely; wipe clean with rag.

Floors

Wood
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 gallon warm water

Linoleum
1 cup white vinegar
2 gallons warm water

Mix in mop bucket, rinse afterwards.

Furniture Polish
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil

Mix and apply with a clean rag to dust and polish. Reduce the olive oil if wood looks too oily.

Metal Polish
Copper and Brass
2 Tbsps salt
White vinegar

Add vinegar to salt until you’ve created a paste. Adding flour will reduce abrasiveness. Apply with a rag and rub clean.

Stainless Steel
Baking soda
White vinegar

Apply baking soda with a damp cloth, using the vinegar to eliminate spots.

BATHROOM

Toilet Bowl
Baking soda
White vinegar

To clean and deodorize, sprinkle toilet bowl with baking soda, add white vinegar and scrub with a toilet brush.

Tub and Tile
1/2 lemon
Borax

Dip the face of the lemon half in borax to create a hand-held scrubber for dirty areas. Rinse and dry the surface afterwards.

KITCHEN

Countertops
Marble: Mix one Tbsp castile soap with a quart of warm water, rinse well, then dry with a warm cloth.

Other surfaces: half a lemon and dip the face in baking soda to scrub off residues. Follow up by spraying with glass cleaner mix (below).

Drains
1 cup baking soda
1 cup vinegar

Add baking soda and vinegar to a pot of boiled water and pour down the drain, then flush with tap water. For more stubborn clogs, use a “snake” plumbing tool to manually remove blockage, or try suction removal with a plunger. To prevent clogs, install inexpensive mesh screen, available at home improvement and hardware stores.

Glass
1/4 cup vinegar or 1 Tbsp lemon juice
2+ cups water

Fill a clean spray bottle with water and either white vinegar or lemon juice; wipe with a rag or old newspaper.

Oven
Baking soda
Water

Sprinkle baking soda on surfaces, spray water, then let soak several hours or overnight. Rinse with water.

Stovetop and Oven Grease Remover
1/2 tsp washing soda
1/4 tsp liquid soap
2 cups hot water

Add washing soda and soap to hot water in spray bottle. Since washing soda is caustic, wear gloves.

LAUNDRY ROOM
Bleach alternative
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide

Earth-friendly tips for using your orange / lemon peels!

the orange peel guyI know, it has been AGES since I’ve posted. Life has just been to crazy busy to keep uP. So here’s some tips I found really enviro-green and interesting (as slaDE and I go through so many citrus items each week!).

Have you ever had a bunch of lemons or oranges going soft, but instead of pitching, you’ve wanted to maximize the life and use of them? Try squeezing the juice out of them, freeze it in one-cup containers to use whenever you need a cup of lemon juice for cooking. Waste not, want not!. When it comes to the peels, we traditionally have composted everything of organic matter for the past 2.5 years at the local community garden compost bin. However, in the near future, we’ll be ‘unable’ to compost such matter (living on the road). Ever the seeker, I wanted to research the possibilities of reusing, reducing, recycling. As a beginning tip, I found these t0 tips to stretch the most out of our citrus peels!

10 Easy Ways to Use Orange Peels
For Food

1. Make orange zest (preferably from organic fruit). Grate the peel with a hand grater or zester and use it in baking or cooking like my amazing pumpernickel bread.

2. Soften a brick of brown sugar. Put a piece of orange peel in a container of brown sugar to keep it from drying out.

3. Make candied orange peels . Yum!

4. Make orange liquor. Seal a container filled with orange peels and vodka and put it in a dark place. A few weeks later, strain out the orange peels, and have orange infused vodka. Double Yum!

For Cleaning

5. Destink your sink. Run orange peels through the garbage disposal to freshen up a stinky garbage disposal. Add a few ice cubes and you’ll sharpen the disposal blades too.

6. Rid a room of odor. Simmer orange peels, cloves, and cinnamon sticks in pot of water on the stove to freshen the air naturally. For safety’s sake, keep an eye on that pot and do not leave it boiling unattended on the stove.

7. Scrub a sink. Use a fresh orange peel to scrub through the gunk in your sink. The natural oils in orange peel are an excellent cleaner and shine your sink too.

For Pest Control

8. Scat cat! Scatter orange peels in your garden to deter cats from using it as a litter box. Cats hate the smell of orange oil and will do their business elsewhere.

9. As bug repellent. The oils in orange peels are also a natural insect repellent. Puree orange peels and water in a blender, and pour the solution down anthills to kill ants or pour/spray it outside the house to keep ants from coming into your home. Some folks rub a fresh orange peel on their skin and use it as a natural mosquito repellent too.

For Fire

10. Light your fire. Use dried orange peels instead of newspaper to start a fire. Orange oil is flammable and lights easily which makes it an excellent fire starter. Burning orange peels in your wood burning fireplace is supposed to remove any creosote that’s inside your chimney too. Just use caution because you are playing with fire in this tip.

How do you use orange peels?

PS One of slaDE~s hidden talents is his ability to always peel the shape of an ‘S’ out of his orange peels. It’s quite sweet and romantic actually :).

composting with worms

Spring has sprung and I’m starting to think about gardening, birth, renewal. Tomorrow the world will celebrate Mother Earth in a collective vote of consciousness, with “Earth Hour”. Everyday I make an active choice to be conscious of my actions towards the Earth that nurtures and supports me. My husband and I actively compost, just as one example of the giving back to the earth. We’ve been long interested in the thoughts of worm composting. Luckily, we currently have a community garden to drop off our weekly 5 gallon pail full of organic matter. But what about when we are living and travelling in the RV? I wonder how many RVers have successfully maintained an environmentally friendly lifestyle, one which includes composting? We’ve even gone as far as thinking of adding a composting toilet, but are uncertain as to whether the inclusion of such an item will outstretch our weight limitations on our Dodge 3/4 ton truck used to pull the Airstream (normally this wouldn’t be a concern, but the luxury of having granite countertops adds to the equation of poundage).

So in the spirit of green education, in honour of our earth Mother, below are listed some tips from the US Natural Resources Conservation Service to spark the movement towards an eco-friendly world and consciousness.

Composting turns household wastes into valuable fertilizer and soil organic matter.Vermicomposting uses worms to compost. This takes up very little space and can be done year-round in a basement or garage (or RV?!). It is an excellent way to dispose of kitchen wastes.

Steps:

1. You need a plastic storage bin. One (1′ x 2′ x 3.5′) may be enough to meet the needs of a family of 6.
2. Drill 8 to 10 holes, approximately 1/4″ in diameter, in the bottom of the bin for drainage.
3. Line the bottom of the bin with fine nylon mesh to keep the worms from escaping.
4. Put a tray underneath to catch the drainage.
5. Shredded newspaper works well as bedding. Rip into pieces and water well so that it is thoroughly moist. Place on one side of your bin. Do not let it dry out.
6. Add worms to your bin. Redworms are recommended for best composting, but other species can be used. Redworms are the common small worms found in most gardens and lawns. You can collect them from under a pile of mulch or order them from a garden catalog.
7. Provide worms with food wastes such as vegetable peelings. Do not add fat or meat products. Limit feed–too much at once may cause the material to rot.
8. Keep the bin in a dark location away from extreme temperatures.
9. In about 3 months the worms should have changed the bedding and food wastes into compost. At this time add fresh bedding and more food to the other side of the bin. The worms should migrate to the new food supply.
10. After a couple of weeks, open your bin in a bright light. The worms will burrow into the bedding. Scoop out the finished compost and apply to your plants or save for use in the spring.

Using compost — Check the pH level and adjust with lime or sulfur depending on the types of soil and plants in your yard. Also lime can prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes.

Compost can be used for all your planting needs. Compost is an excellent source of organic matter to add to your garden. It helps improve soil structure which contributes to good aeration and moisture-holding capacity. Compost is also a source of plant nutrients.

Compost can also be used as a mulch material. Studies have shown that compost used as a mulch, or mixed with the top one-inch layer of soil, can help prevent some plant diseases, including some of those that cause damping of seedlings.