Tag Archives: Environmentalism

I may be going very far away.

Up north roughly around Albany and then off to the right to nuzzle against Vermont, in a very rural area (about half an hour from a city, and forty-five minutes from Albany), after living here in New York City for close to ten years, and prior to that, still almost always in a city or somewhere urbanized enough that there was a grocery store chain (chains are important, because smaller places generally do not take food stamps, though there are exceptions) within a mile.

We found a place on a heavily forested piece of land shared with the owners in their own attached house, who practice sustainable living, gardening, and do as much off the grid as possible. It’s inexpensive — only $25 more than what we had been paying here, with minimal utility costs, aside from DSL (very strange to think of having DSL again, but at least it’s not dial-up!).

We’ll be adjusting things, I imagine, to try to conserve energy, so we can get as much from the solar panels alone and the solar hot water without needing much from the grid. The stove runs on LPG – propane, basically, which I think I read is something like 50% more environmentally friendly than grid electricity.

I think we’d be doing laundry by hand. Maybe setting up one of those methods with a large bucket and a plunger of some sort, which people say actually works incredibly well and gets their clothes cleaner than a washing machine with much less detergent. Wringers are expensive, but I know we can’t wring things by hand (we are the family of no hand strength or hand disabilities galore).

I would be able to garden to my heart’s content, and also have access to a greenhouse. I would be drowning in trees. There’s a good-sized lake four miles away.

It would be quiet.

There are drawbacks. Various ones. Mainly involving health care, both mental and physical. Though I am wondering if we would all have such a drop in depression and misery that we’d need a lot less therapy, one way or another. Then it’s basically access to medicines, and wondering if I’d need to change my insurance, or do something else to have access to local urgent care or local prescription refills, and standard things in NYC.

If anyone has thoughts, I would appreciate hearing them. This is a major life change, even if it is one we have been talking about for a long time — the ultimate future dream — and there are benefits to being disabled in a city that you don’t have in the country.

I’d especially enjoy hearing from people who have lived a similar lifestyle, if there is anyone.

 

The Current State of Bees

A few links to actions you can take, and organizations that need donations.

This first-of-its-kind report found bee-killing pesticides in more than half of the “bee-friendly” home garden plants sold at stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s — with no warning to consumers.

As a mom and organic gardener, I was shocked to learn that I may have unknowingly filled my backyard with hidden bee poisons.

So the next step of our campaign is to turn up the heat on Home Depot’s CEO Frank Blake and Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock.  They must stop selling these dangerous pesticides.

Write to them.

the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released rules and new labels for pesticides containing the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. These labels feature a special warning and prohibit use of these products where bees are present. While this is a good sign, it’s not enough. We know that bees need more protection, and we need more research so that we can better understand the impacts of these and other pesticides on pollinator habitat.

Your work and enthusiasm has helped move the EPA, but we need “The Save America’s Pollinators Act” to pass Congress. If you haven’t already, can you call your representative right now to demand that “The Save America’s Pollinators Act” be included in the Farm Bill to protect pollinators?

Call them.

A bill was just introduced in Congress that would ban neonics until a scientific studies could prove no harm will come to bee populations from their use.

Passing this bill won’t be easy. Big Agriculture and chemical companies are already lobbying hard to defeat it. Massive public support is the only chance the bees have. Over 100,000 Greenpeace supporters helped raise the profile of this issue last month. Together we now have a chance to save the bees before it is too late.

Urge your representative to support the Save America’s Pollinators Act and save the bees!

And write to them.

Mrs. Obama understands the importance of pesticide-free organic gardening and the importance of bees for the health of our food supply, our families and our planet.

But since many home garden plants and seeds are pre-treated with these pesticides, the first lady could be poisoning bees without even realizing it.

Ask Michelle Obama to take a stand.

 

Donation opportunities:

A gift-matching donation to help Friends of the Earth.

EarthJustice also needs help fighting the recent approval of sulfoxaflor, another highly toxic chemical.

And Greenpeace has also been working hard.

Honey Willow

Another petition for our bees.

He suggested I updated the title and tagline for my blog, though not the url, because that would be too confusing–also I’m unlikely to stop being Shannon Kotono, since the name he is giving me when we are married is going in the middle of my name.

I wondered if one of his suggested updates would be better after we were married, but he said something about technicalities with a hand wave.

As for the title, I was starting to feel odd about the terms his home/our home. Is it presumptuous to say ours, if I spend much of my elsewhere time there? If, I suppose especially, the people there accept me as someone who belongs there and they care for me, and things that belong to me are there (generally clothes, but they’re obviously my clothes)?

He thought the only way to make it something ours was to think of a name that suited both of us somehow. I couldn’t think of much, in part because what I kept thinking of reminded me of a very unpleasant person, which is not fair to us.

I kept coming back to this, however, and he suggested it independently, and so it is.

Rest

Another important bee petition.

I donated some money the other day to a fundraiser, also about bees.

My necklace came last night, and I opened the package enough to find out what was in it, but didn’t look further than glancing at the packing slip. It seems like I should save it for the wedding.  Which is now just slightly over a month away.

After his period of being furious about these recent circumstances, he came back to me and held on to me as if I were in danger of being evicted from him. I needed it. As much as I try to protest that I cannot possibly be important to anyone, let alone a god, further let alone a god that has many more interesting people to pay attention to, we do need each other, somehow, for some reason. I spent most of the intervening time with him, laying together in bed, not really talking, but being close to each other. I do not know how to be in a relationship that requires large amounts of conversation. I need these things. Silence. Closeness. Understanding.

Early this morning, I drew Isa, and just now, when I asked for one from Freyr, I drew Isa again.

There’s so much to do.

But rest, it says. Rest.

And he adds, warm, tender, nearly against my mouth, Rest. What can you do when you have nothing left to give? Rest. Sleep in my arms. The last bit a hovering question without quite necessitating a question mark, but neither an imperative. Something he wants me to do, but I have plenty of room to be uncomfortable about it for myriad reasons and need to not be that physically close to someone, or asleep in front of someone, which is a very vulnerable position, and so on.

But I think about going home and being wrapped in a robe that is somehow softer than silk, done in a shade to complement my eyes, with black trim, similar to my hair. And just laying down in his bed. Such a dense frame. Heavy wood. Deeply carven. A canopy, useful for shutting out the sunlight from the right, where there’s a fair sized window, and collecting the warmth from the fire on the left in cooler seasons.

Having him pass it along without my being aware of it, or before I get there, that we, or I, shouldn’t be disturbed, otherwise lovely, well-meaning people will fuss over me, because I am some sort of darling of theirs. When I can’t handle people. And he always knows when I can’t handle people. Even when I can’t handle spirits and wights.

I do feel very tired. I haven’t slept well since some time in June.

Bees and Dreams and Mostly Mundane Food

It isn’t a great surprise that I sign everything that comes up regarding the health and protection of bees. I’ve been doing it for years, though it has an additional level of meaning and importance, now. Please add your name.

I dreamt about a grocery store in which there were local people with small stands selling things from their own gardens inside it, and it was regulated/protected by an ancient Buddhist sect of warriors from some place that I am not certain exists on a map. I keep losing the name of it.

In it, I was a much younger boy, probably eighteen or nineteen at the most, who was there with a girl he had a desperate crush on, and someone who was a type of father figure to him (played by Jeff Bridges in his younger Tron days). The girl was more interested (by far) in the man, but hope springs eternal. I was running through the place at the end looking for mushrooms for her, because she had talked about how much she had liked them, and I was cursing myself for a fool in a myriad of ways for forgetting how much she liked mushrooms, when the woman (who was a witch; we somehow quietly acknowledged that we both knew this) I’d purchased two “pounds” (somehow three ordinary-sized bulbs each?) of garlic from was also selling shiitakes and button mushrooms. But by the time I’d run back there from the check out counter, the people selling things had disappeared and all of their booths were completely gone. I also couldn’t find any in the ordinary produce section, and I was running out of time, because they were both impatiently waiting for me and I was holding up the line (all of this being quite typical of things I would have an incapacitating panic attack over — inconveniencing other people seems to be one of my greatest fears, as sad as that is).

I wanted to spend more time with the garlic and mushroom growing witch-woman. While this was more than likely a stress-induced brain-cleaning dream, she stood out. She was a thin woman with short steel grey hair, glasses, and a face that had done its fair share of frowning at people in its lifetime, but she was not unpleasant to talk to at all. She was a little shorter than me, but I couldn’t tell if I had something like my own height or if I were a different height in the dream, so I’d cautiously put her in the 5’6 ‘average’ height range for white women. She was looking up at me when we spoke.

I think she’d likely had to struggle to be accepted in her community (the one in the dream, if nothing else) and that had caused a great deal of frowning and a mile-wide set of defensive fortifications, with a mix of walls, moats, and razor wire. But I had accepted and respected her, as well as the very high quality and vitality of her produce from the start — there was a woman beside her also selling mushrooms which I barely glanced at. Hers were… sort of limply generic, while the witch-woman’s thrummed with life. I had a feeling that I was getting an extra bulb of garlic in each of the sets of three for free, as well. Perhaps for respecting her and her skills.

I have dreams. Prophetic dreams, and all sorts of dreams. So I cannot help wondering if this were actually someone coming to meet me in an otherwise odd circumstance. If she sounds like someone to you, please let me know in the comments?

I do not comparatively have a lot of contact with female deities and spirits (Auðhelga and Beyla are the only people I see regularly), but I would like to change that.

We seem to have caught colds from the dinner at the restaurant. Impressive immune systems, all around.

My every intention for tomorrow was to buy groceries for us and for them, but I think their meal may be delayed until I have to go out again on Tuesday. Getting groceries for the mostly-human people in the house is very important, whereas I think they will be content with beverage offerings for the time being. There is some atrocious cinnamon schnappes that none of us would drink that Loki is happy with, though I’d love to uncover his cinnamon tea; I’m sure his son would enjoy partaking of it. Freyr likes honey-lemon-ginger tea, which I must partake of and do not mind at all. Odin seems to like coffee, though I don’t know how he takes it. He’s made it rather clear that he doesn’t share, aside from potentially the taste test to ensure it’s all right.

If he takes it sweetened, I don’t know the status of sugar in the house, but honey aplenty and we also have agave (and stevia, though somehow I think this would get some sort of world-shaking No).

As for cream, it’s just almond milk.

I don’t mind keeping a small amount of cream around. We all like whipping cream and it could get used up, especially if we made some minor excuse to procure maraschino cherries (Loki likes them! That’s a reason!). Or we could get soy creamer — Silk made a vanilla kind back in the early 2000s that appeased the coffee snobs around here very, very well, and I’ve still seen it on shelves. We’re not opposed to dairy, but V loves soy in all its permutations and Brand and I are almond milk people. Or at least I am, and he’s discovered his delicious it is.

We hope to begin making soy milk soon and using the leftover okara in various dishes, as its mainly fiber and protein and who couldn’t use more of that? Especially in place of rice in our standard beans with lots of garlic, red pepper, and jalapeno or habanero sauce. The added protein makes it even better for we veggie types (me).

V goes through soy milk at a rapid pace and I’ve read that you can cut down batches from $4-5 at the grocery to $1.50 or less. Plus you can make tofu, which is apparently much more delicious than anything you’ve ever tried, and then there’s the useful okara.

Honey went absolutely everywhere this morning and is still significantly present on the tv table we put this laptop on. There is a place that sells local honey that we brought home two mason jars full of. It’s listed as raw honey, but the jars were very hot when they were brought home, and I wonder if that was too warm for it to be considered raw, still, as it’s kept heated to make it liquid enough to be dispensed easily. It’s the transparent colour of most honeys. I’m used to the pale yellow opaque sort of raw honey.

I think I need to research the entire topic more. The raw honey I buy from the grocery is not local, but paid for with food stamps, which is a benefit. But local honey has its own benefits, particularly toward spring when we have tremendously unpleasant allergies.

I also need to find the time and energy to go to the greenmarket and see what sort of honey they have, these days, since the greenmarket also takes food stamps, and it is summer, and there should be lots of lovely things.

 

Wights

V had a nightmare and curled up with me sometime around the phase of nautical twilight. As it moved toward dawn, the birds began their chorus, and two crows were conversing over the din. V told me the crows were the only thing he could identify by sound; I pointed out a robin, but while I love birds, I’m a little restricted to things that were common where I grew up.

There’s a mourning dove wandering around the base of one of the trees I can see from this window. There are many old trees on the property and whether middle-aged or elder, they are all inhabited by spirits I can sense just by looking at them.

I’ll need to find some privacy to go around and talk to them, and make some small offerings. The yard has been ripped up in places and trees cut down and plants torn out due to “con”struction. The trees I can see don’t seem to feel upset, but the worst of it happened in the back, I believe, and I’m facing the road. 

People are shouting upstairs. Brand is making a face. “Needless to say, you won’t be meditating, or doing your practice for the Dalai Lama’s birthday any time soon,” he said.

“I’d like to do it while it’s still his birthday where he lives. If they can stop shouting some time in the next six hours, I’ll be good.”

I got up and looked at part of the back, and there is a space that I can see easily, which is clearly very traumatized. Apparently the worst is over in a direction I can’t see. Further, the “con”struction workers, ripped the flowers up from over one of the graves.

I’m getting a much clearer sense of what Freyr had in mind for me.

Flowers, Ecology

I seem to have lost a day somewhere, due to how difficult sleep has been and my days stretching out into thirty or more hour segments.

What I think of as “yesterday,” but was actually Friday, we walked for a little while in a beautiful garden. It reminded me of English gardens, the sort with tall hedges and fountains and areas of grass. Except the hedges were made of flowers, many different kinds of flowers, growing and woven together.

I stopped to look at one that reminded me of a daffodil. It was more graceful, with long petals curling gently around a smaller trumpet. He said, “Pick it, if you like.”

“But I have no nails,” I protested. “I’ll hurt the plant too much.”

“Here.” He reached past me, mildly amused that I worry so much about plants that I won’t even pick flowers, and plucked it himself, putting it behind my ear.

I retrieved it and looked at it. The bottom of the stem was closed. I looked up at him in confusion and he moved some of the vines, showing me the same thing on the original stalk. “The [word for the type of flower it was] is fine. And that will not wither, so long as you wish to keep it.”

“But how did you–”

“Plants. Harvests,” he said blandly, with an expansive gesture.

He was teasing me. Without hurting me. That is a very rare occurrence in my life coming from anyone but Brand.

“You know that a rose will not bloom well unless it is pruned regularly, and that old flowers should be removed from plants you wish to keep blooming, and any flowers at all should be removed from a plant that you wish to expend its energy on growing rather than flowering,” he continued, in his ordinary tone of voice.

“Yes.”

“And there are many plants that should be shaped, lest they grow spindly and unwieldy.”

“Yes.”

He threaded his arm through mine. “Some people make an art out of that all on its own. A third of an herb or plant can be removed or harvested without damaging the plant; it will keep growing. You needn’t worry about a single flower, Shannon. Particularly when you pick it with care and reverence for the plant and what has made it grow and produce something so beautiful.”

“I just like flowers to stay on plants, because they don’t die in a vase,” I said, still looking down at the flower, and feeling silly. People have always found this stance ridiculous. “They’re still beautiful on the plants, even if I don’t have them indoors to look at all of the time.”

After looking at me for a long time, he quietly said, “You are very kind. Even to things to which few people are kind, few people notice, few think of.”

“They’re alive. They’re real. Just as real as anyone. Being human, or whatever, doesn’t make someone better than anything else that is alive. Only different.”

He drew me close, kissed my forehead, and held me very tenderly. “And you wonder all the time why I love you so. Please keep the flower. May it remind you of this.”

“I will.” I leaned against him, tired suddenly, from the weight of carrying that around with me for so long.

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