Thursday, April 30, 2009
Yesterday we ad Quinoa and Chard for dinner - yum! I sauteed one chopped onion with some garlic in canola oil, and then added finely chopped chard once the onions were soft. I cooked that for awhile, until the chard was wilted, and then added about two or three cups cooked quinoa, salt and pepper, and a pinch of sugar to counteract some of the bitterness of the chard. It warms a mother's heart to see her kids devouring leafy greens without complaint!
PS - Can you believe that Blogger doesn't have quinoa in their spell check dictionary???
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The inspiration for this activity was Antoinette Portis' books Not a Box and Not a Stick, which are our favorites around here. Bess especially likes them because the simple, repetitive text and minimalist drawings make it easy for her to "read" the book herself. I like how the cover of Not a Box is made of brown cardboard - like a box. Very clever! I've often thought that a really fun spin off of these books for older kids would be to just pick something, anything from around the house and make up your own book by thinking of as many uses for it as you can. You know, like Not a String, Not a Cup, Not a Chair, whatever. If you try it, let me know how it goes.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
We decided to install a ceiling mounted laundry airer in our newly-renovated laundry room, for drying small loads of laundry or things that shouldn't go in the dryer. Unfortunately, I don't think outside drying is a good long-term solution for us. For one thing, the winter up here is LONG, not conducive to line-drying laundry. The other thing is that our house is surrounded by trees, which means 1. shade, 2. bird poop, and 3. pollen (which is not a great thing for my boys, both of whom have respiratory issues that are aggravated by allergens to varying degrees). So I think an indoor clothes line is the way to go for us. This one is on pulleys so I can lower it to put the clothes on, and then raise it to get it out of the way and make use of rising heat. So far, I LOVE IT!
And you can't see it in the picture, but I also sewed curtains for the laundry room myself. The hem isn't great, and I had to pull it out a few times on a couple of the curtains (I made three), but you have to start somewhere!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Yesterday being Earth Day, naturally every children's program we watched was about "environmentalism" - recycling, turning off the lights when you leave a room, or turning off the water when you brush your teeth. Clearly, I don't expect any sort of examination of Deep Ecology on Nickelodeon. However, by the end of the day, if I heard one more mention of recycling I was going to FREAK OUT (my tolerance was pretty low).
Hey - recycling helps. It minimizes the need to manufacture or mine raw materials, and it keeps some trash out of landfills, particularly trash that does not readily decompose. Reduction and reuse helps too. That's all fine and well. But to teach children that they have fulfilled their obligation to the Earth, that they can call themselves "environmentalists", because they put their newspapers in the recycling bin is missing the boat. Big time.
Let's say that 100% of recyclable materials actually found their way to the recycling plant, which they don't. And let's also say, for the sake of argument, that 100% of these materials were used to make new products and packaging, which also does not happen. But even if that were true, recycling still uses energy - lots of it - which is probably not from renewable sources, and it still produces pollution - lots of it - which enters our air, land and water.
So I say, let's add a fourth R to the equation: Refuse. Refuse to believe the consumerist culture that tells you that it's okay to buy, buy, buy as long as you reuse and recycle when you can (or when it's convenient). Refuse to believe that the answer is that simple, and that the only thing required of us in order to "save the Earth" is to bring an extra can or two to the curb on garbage day. Refuse to participate, when you can, in the use of energy and resources by only taking what you need from the Earth and making the most efficient use of what you do take. Refuse to stay quiet, but instead speak up to your friends, neighbors, community members and legislators. Refuse to take anything at face value, but commit instead to thinking it through on your own. You'll be surprised at what you might find if you do.
Friday, April 17, 2009
I will concede that it is not the most attractive yard adornment in the world, but I must say that there is something meditative about hanging out the clothes, then bringing it in. It reminds me of Zen Buddhist philosophy. There is also something fresh and invigorating about the smell of clothes dried outside (though the towels are a little crunchy). I am anxiously awaiting our next power bill to see how much we've saved during our involuntary dryer amnesty.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
This was not a polar bear in the Arctic who, starving, raided a research camp looking for food. No, this was an animal who lived in a zoo and attacked a person who was in his enclosure. It was not clear from what I saw whether this was a keeper or a patron who somehow ended up with the bear, but either way, I'd have to say that it is not a very good idea to get yourself into that sort of situation. After all, if I were a wild animal who was trapped in a completely unnatural enclosure, unable to fulfill my natural drives, and probably pretty uncomfortable given that I am designed to live in a climate where temperatures can reach fifty degrees below zero or colder - I doubt I'd be all that inclined towards hospitality myself.
I had to wonder - who's attacking who here?
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Why the change? As my husband often wonders, why bother taking the time to peel, boil, and mill apples when I could just as easily, or more easily, buy applesauce at the store already made? Why would I boil the milk, add the starter, and strain the cheese by hand when it would be much faster to just throw it in our grocery cart?
Well, I can't say that I always choose homemade over convenient, because I don't. Sometimes I don't have the time, energy, skills or inclination to do things myself. But when I do, I like to make things at home. There are many reasons for this. One is that it is often much less expensive to do it that way, particularly as it relates to my daughter's many allergies and food sensitivities. Another is that I prefer throwing apple peels in the compost, knowing that they'll someday feed my garden, as opposed to consuming the energy and packaging that is required to get the same product at the store.
But mostly, it's because I like doing it myself. There is something about the satisfaction of eating something, knowing that you made it with your own hands. Food tastes better when you know where the ingredients came from and what they looked like before. The exhaustion felt at the end of a day of hard work is satisfying. I think it is important to know, in our culture of consumerism and specialization, what it takes to make the world tick.
On the New York Times' Motherlode blog, Lisa Belkin interviewed Carl Honore about Slow Parenting. It's worth a read. He talks about how Slow does not mean at a snail's pace - it simply means that you give tasks the time they deserve to be completed properly. Instead of rushing through life in the name of efficiency, people who embrace the ethic of Slow take the time to enjoy the things they do, and do them well.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
We're also continuing our indoor "gardening" by investing in some real sprouting equipment. It's nothing, really, just some quart mason jars and some screen, but it does make sprouting much easier than the cheesecloth contraption we've been using. We're experimenting with quinoa sprouts, and looking forward to making some yummy fresh gluten- free bread with them this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.
[Posted with iBlogger from my iPhone]
Monday, April 6, 2009
I am reading a book right now on Ideology Diffusion Theory called Communicating Nature: How We Create and Understand Environmental Messages by Julia B. Corbett. The book includes a short quiz on page 20 to help readers determine their degree of environmental literacy. I've seen several different versions of this type of quiz, but this time I read it and it struck me - what an interesting way to set a "curriculum" for humane parenting, trying to answer all these questions with your child!
1. Trace the water you drink from its source to your faucet.
2. What stage is the moon in right now?
3. What was the total precipitation in your area last year?
4. Name two native, edible plants in your region. Name two native grasses in this area.
5. From what direction do winter storms generally come in your region?
6. Where does your garbage go?
7. How long is the growing season where you live?
8. When do the deer (or other ungulates) rut here, and when are their young born?
9. Name five resident birds in this area. Name five birds that migrate from this area.
10. What primary ecological event or process influenced the landform here? What's the evidence?
11. From where you are sitting right now, which direction is north?
12. What spring wildflowers (not human planted) are consistently among the first to bloom here?
How did you do?
Saturday, April 4, 2009
I did have one evening to myself this week. Thursday was my Holistic Moms Network meeting, and our topic was Holistic Moms' True Confessions. The idea was that we would each share our biggest holistic passion, an area of holistic living that we wanted to learn more about, and our most un-holistic habit that we are unwilling to live without. The group was small, so it was very intimate and informal. Everyone was willing to freely share our "secrets" about the things we do that we aren't particularly proud of, and I thought afterwards what a great discussion this would be to introduce new members to the group. The word "holistic" can often be intimidating. But holistic living means something different to everyone, and we are all on a path where we learn new things along the way that change the way we do things. The more you know about holistic living, the more you know you don't know. There is no such thing as being "holistic enough".
Likewise, I don't think there is any such thing as being "humane enough". The more people I talk to, and the more I learn, the more I see that there are many, many shades of grey for humane parents. Several months ago, there was an online discussion among my classmates at IHE about whether it is a "requirement" for humane educators to be vegan. Most of the participants in the discussion said that it is preferable that humane educators be vegan, and some people were very vehement that it is an absolute necessity. I did not pipe in because I felt intimidated that what I had to say would not seem "humane enough", but I disagree with this perspective.
Living in a farming community, I see how much damage is caused to the land and how many animals such as mice, snakes, and birds are injured and killed by farm machinery. Even the CSA where I belong, which I think represents the epitome of responsible land stewardship, uses tractors which are bound to injure and kill animals. They also use natural pesticides which injure or kill insects and other small animals which damage their crops. This is the reality of farming. If someone who lives in the US and is vegan eats banana from a supermarket, they have no way of knowing if the person who harvested it is paid fairly for his or her labor, and they can be assured that a fair amount of fossil fuels were burned to get it there.
I have come to think that it is naivete and/or hubris that allows many people to believe that their choices represent the only acceptable options. I do not believe that a vegan diet is as "cruelty-free" as many people like to think it is, just as I do not believe that someone must eat a certain way or use certain cleaning products or make certain choices about medical care to be able to consider themselves "holistic". It takes all kinds of people who make all kinds of choices to build a community. The key is respect. Clearly, I think that we should critically examine our choices and educate ourselves to be sure that we are doing the best we can for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our planet. However, I also think that reasonable people can disagree about how exactly we can best fulfill our potential to be agents of change.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Instead of the cilantro sauce, we used some of our leftover Kheere ka Raita from the other night. Dee-lish!