Showing posts from June, 2011

Sharing a post

I rarely do this, although perhaps I should start doing it more.  I just read this blog post, and think it's a really good one for the environmentally-minded as well as the locovores.  This is from a woman in New Zealand who has gone back to the land and is living on Haleltree Farm.  I love how the Internet connects us. Let's share the information.  It's important. Enjoy: *April 13, 2014 - sorry, but this link no longer is active.  I looked on the Hazeltree Farm Facebook page, and they haven't posted anything since 2012 - which is sad.  I hope they are okay.

Garden - June 30, 2011

Well, I've had a request to send pictures of the garden out there.  So here you go.  Don't let it be said that I don't answer a request. It's amazing how every year I put the same plants into the same ground, but each year the garden has a different personality.  Something new that I love about it.  I haven't done enough to the ground this year.  Actually, I did NOTHING to the ground this year, and I think that was a mistake.  But Nature is still there, sending up food for us to eat.  It does give one a sense of security. And I love the art that shows in my garden - love the green: (right above the lettuce is the window to my office - where I am typing this right now!) And I've saved my favourite for last.  These violas offer themselves up all over the garden.  This particularly determined one likes the shade of the rhubarb:

One foot in front of the other

Recently I made a new friend - a young woman with a shared need to save the environment.  We had a short "chat" on Facebook yesterday - she was feeling frustrated, as we all do from time to time.  Her frustration stemmed from not doing "enough" environmentally.  As a woman in her early twenties with a one-year-old and a full time job, this precious soul doesn't have a lot of time.  She wants to change everything she does right now, but she is bound by her finances, time and relationships.  Nonetheless, she feels like she's failing because she tried to do too much at once. I understand her frustration.  As soon as you know better, you want to do better.  But one simply cannot change everything at once.  Even wanting to make so many changes can cause one to be overwhelmed and subsequently block the action that needs to be taken.  We've all been so overwhelmed that we couldn't get started on a project.  It's the same with making environmental ch

Canning Lids - Plastic!!

I obviously didn't read far enough.  Those Tattler canning jar lids are made of plastic.  They are re-usable and BPA-free, but still plastic.  However, there are glass jars and lids available: I'm disappointed.  If anyone out there knows of lid like the Tattler that are actually made of glass, please let me know.

BC Bantams - Introduction

As many of you may know, I've been working on an article about my Great-Grandfather's WWI battalion.  I'm not finished yet, but I thought I would start sharing parts of it with you.  I find it fascinating, but I don't expect everyone out there to have the same passion I do for it.  Please ... just humour me.  I'm going to do it in short bits so it doesn't take up too much of your day. "Do Your Little Bit":  The 143rd Battalion C.E.F., or the BC Battling Bantams “Victoria children yet unborn Will read a page that we’ll adorn” [1] I first found out about the BC Bantams (143 rd Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Forces, also called “The Battling Bantams”) while researching Jack McCurrach’s (my great-grandfather’s) experience in World War One.   Having ordered his war records from the Canadian Archives, I was able to trace his route from Canada through England, to France and back.   Jack signed up in July of 1916 with the 143 rd Battalion C.E.F.   I

Glass Canning Jar Lids

OMG!!!  I didn't know anyone made these anymore.  Being a historical archaeologist, I've found lots of bits and pieces of these glass "liners", but I did not know that they were still in production anywhere.  And here they are made in the US (and they'll ship to Canada). As soon as I have some extra cash (okay, as soon as I can justify spending extra cash after the extra money I just spent on caning materials for a chair that I'm going to re-do and will blog about) I am going to get me some of these.  Oh - caning and canning.  Tee Hee Anyone interested in a bulk order?? P.S. - please note that I've discovered that these are not glass jar lids, they are BPA-free plastic - please see


Daniel's class came to our house the other day.  I wanted to show them our composter, the push mower, the clothesline (which allowed us to talk about where electricity comes from, peak oil, energy conservation), how I make my own laundry detergent, etc.  We also made ice cream and I made fresh bread to share.  The kids also got various samplers from the garden - spinach, lettuce and rhubarb as well as some old sunflower seeds from an old sunflower head.  They had no idea what a sunflower looked like when it was old and dried - one thought maybe it was an armadillo. And we read a great book called "One Small Place in a Tree".  Actually, I found a great website with all sorts of environmental books for children: The kids were great.  They asked good questions, behaved very well, and gave me a group hug after we were all done. They also asked for a handout with websites and the recipes for the ice cream and the laundry detergent.  So I though

Pikachu Cupcakes

Some background:  Every year we have two birthdays for Daniel.  We have a quiet family party on his actual birthday (December 27), and a kid birthday party at the end of June - before school lets out.  Christmas is a lousy time to have a birthday - it gets lost.  So we thought this was a nice idea.  Plus then the birthday party has at least an outside chance of taking place out of doors. So this is how the birthday cake discussion started this year:  "I want Pikachu on my birthday cake this year".  "Okay". A few days later:  "Daniel, would it be okay if I made cupcakes for your birthday instead of a cake?"  You see, I'd found a recipe in the "Jamie's America" cookbook that looked good and easy.  Cupcakes, icing, some sprinkles and you're done.  "But I told you several times that I want Pikachu".  And then my husband came up with a great idea - make Pikachu faces out of the cupcakes.  Alright, I can do that.  It'll be

Wicked Riots part trois

As a follow-up to her initial e-mail , my sister forwarded this photo.  The building to the right hand side of the picture is the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Here statement was:  "My friend and I were in the building, watching the play at this point in the night. We had no clue what was going on outside until the intermission." Amazing what good sound-proofing can do, eh?


There definitely are advantages to not gardening organically.  I can't say that I'm totally organic.  I do use Miracle Grow on occasion, and I use insecticidal bug spray and this year copper spray.  But I do try to garden as naturally as I can and use compost, etc. The problem with the organic thing is that pests come along with it.  I know, there are pests no matter what, but it seems that those people I know who grow hybrid varieties and don't use compost don't have quite as many problems as I do.  Which leads to today's new discovery:  cutworms. A couple of weeks ago when I checked under my coverings to see how my cabbages were doing, a couple were gone.  Just gone.  I had no idea what got them.  I thought maybe the ants (not!) or mice (nope!).  So I planted a couple more and now I have 5 cabbages instead of 7.  Today, I noticed that part of a broccoli plant, which I transplanted close to where those cabbages were, had been eaten.  And I noticed a hole in a l

Let's Switch From Fear to Love

Lately I've tended to read books about environmental degredation, interspersed with spiritual books.  This morning, they came together in my head, and here's the result ... I firmly believe that we create our own reality.  I've written about the power of positive thinking and prayer/meditation before , and still believe this very strongly - and more.  I think we create the good and the bad - I won't go to the extent of saying that we create our illnesses to teach us something, but I am open-minded to that theory.  Even if you don't believe that we energetically or metaphysically create our lives, I don't think you can argue against the fact that our thoughts do lead to our actions and create the physical world we perceive and live in.  Prayer and meditiation can help us create consciously, as can physical actions, but I'd postulate that most people create their worlds at an unconscious or subconscious level. So how did we go about creating a world that s

Wicked Riots - part 2

Along the same lines as my last post about the riots, this other person's blog posting came my way through Social Media today: Do you think some people will learn from this whole experience??  There will always be idiots in this world, but maybe the fact that people can be photographed and video-recorded no matter where they go will actually make people think twice about doing things.  And if not, perhaps they will at least become even more accountable for their actions. It's not Big Brother who's watching anymore - it's your peers.  And maybe that's better motivation.

Just Energy

So this afternoon I had some guy from "Just Energy" come to the door and demand to see my energy bill "to make sure I am being charged the correct amount".  He actually said that he needed to see my bill and I'm not positive, but I think he said that he was contracted by the government to do so.  My basic answer to him was that I wasn't going to show my bill to him and that the bill was between me and my energy company and no one else's business. He was very persistent saying they'd been to our house 3 months ago to check and that we'd done it then.  Which was complete crap.  I'm here all the time.  They've never been to our door and they've certainly never seen our energy bill. He also tried to talk to me about Greenpeace - after he saw the sign in our window saying not to use plastics.  He was very persistent.  And he was perspiring. Anyhow, after I closed the door in his face (which I normally don't do, but in this case i

Remay cloth and onions

Well, it came time.  Yesterday I took the Reemay cloth off of the onions.  As you can see in this picture (taken June 6), the onions were getting tall, yet crumpled, and they need a chance to straighted up: Only problem is that the weeds love growing under the stuff: Yikes!  Yes, there are onions in there, although you can't really see them through all the chickweed.  A couple hours of weeding, though, and it will all be taken care of.  Gives me a good excuse to get reacquainted with my garden after several days of rain! 

Wicked Riots!

I've been wanting to write something about the riots in Vancouver.  But I didn't know how to approach it - berate the idiots who did it, tell them to grow up - if they couldn't act responsibly, the didn't deserve a team - applaud the people who came out to clean up - comment on how I'd been to that Chapters store the last time I was in Vancouver and it made it so much more real to me ...   I just couldn't find the angle I wanted on it.  And then the urgency passed and I decided not to write about it at all ... Until my sister sent me the following e-mail, and I thought it was such a great example of how these stupid acts by this group of idiots affected some lives in ways I didn't even consider.  So, with my sister's permission, I share her story in her words:     Hi there, So - guess which night Pat (my 78-year-old friend) and I went to see "Wicked" at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre - you know, the big theatre in the downtown core?... Here

Push Mower

I own a push mower.  It was given to me by my aunt and uncle when we moved into our first home - they had bought it for themselves, but found their lumpy lawn to be very difficult to mow with it).  I was happy for the donation to the cause.  I say it was given to ME, because I think my husband has used it twice and refuses to use it anymore - or maybe it's that I refuse to LET him use it because I don't want to hear him complain about it.  And because I don't want him to give up in frustration and go buy an electric or gas mower. His father also used it once, complained incessantly and then I told him that he never had to mow my lawn again (I don't believe I asked him to in the first place). So I mow my lawn.  And I love my mower.  I don't love it because it does the best job ever or because it is the easiest lawn mower to use (it doesn't, and it's not).  I love it because when I use it I feel like I'm doing something good.  I'm getting exercise

Father's Day

The first Father's Day was organized by Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton in 1908.  It was to celebrate the lives of 210 miners who had died in a mining accident in West Virginia the previous December.  It was a one-time deal, but other people later felt that it was important to have Father's Day and a proposal to have it recognized as an official holiday in the U.S. was put forward in 1913 - indicating that it was definitely celebrated by that time. Although the day has become commercialized by card companies and others, it is a great time to remind ourselves about the influence our fathers have had in our lives. I won't get into too much detail, but my father came from a household with a rather violent and mean male head.  The issues he's had to deal with because of this have been very large.  But he came out of it mostly in one piece and able to raise his own family. My father is a really good man.  He is one of the most caring people I know.  Nothing makes him happier

Flea Beetles! ... and leaf miners.

When I went out to the garden this morning, I found little holes in several tomato plant leaves.  "Argh", I thought.  "Flea Beetles!"  I hadn't heard about flea beetles until last year when our friend, Justin, lost all his tomato plants to the darned little things.  His plants were seedlings at the time, and apparently that is when they are most vulnerable.  He told me that you could trap the beetles with sticky yellow traps - and that was the extent of what I knew.  Flea beetles are about the size of a flea, and have long back legs and jump (just like a flea).  I hate fleas.  And I suspect that I'm going to learn to hate flea beetles, too.  So I went online quickly this morning before going to work.  Yes, flea beetles are fairly common and attack tomatoes, potatoes, and some of the cruciferous plants.  I'll let you know if they get into my leafy veggies - apparently they like them, too.  Sticky traps might help, so might Rotenone powder - which I am

Car Emissions and Design

I spent 4 hours on Saturday morning manning the "East Gate" at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum.  It was their annual History Road special event, and the staff, volunteers and registered cars all come through the East Gate.  What I realized as I was directing all the drivers to the check in was that car emissions really have improved over the years.  It was amazing how much the older cars smelled.  And I was thankful that the energy crisis of the 1970s had at least helped significantly with emissions and gas mileage.  Even if we didn't keep up with some of the good work that started then, at least we took that forward. There is something to be said as well with the aesthetic of older cars.  There really was an art to the design of cars (and there still is, really), and it is evident when many are together in one place:

New Etsy Item

Well, it's taken me a while, but I made another item for my Etsy store: Thank you to anyone who will help me spread the web address of my shop!

Gardening Tips #7 - Compost

Someone asked me about compost the other day - and if one person is asking, I figure there might be others out there.  So here you go.  A compost primer. Firstly, there are a number of great books out there on compost.  Visit your local library or search the Internet if you want some good advice.  The book I liked the most was "The Complete Compost Gardening Guide" by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah L. Martin.  Initially I got a copy from the library, but then decided to invest and bought my own copy. Composting is not complicated, but it's not just a matter of throwing food waste together and watching it turn to soil.  As a matter of fact, I learned that lesson by trying just that.  I had a rubbermaid tub on the balcony of a condo we lived in and just tossed our kitchen waste into it (I was so sick and tired of throwing all that organic material into a garbage bag).  What I got was a sludgy mess that smelled rather like vomit.  That's not compost!  It was gross, so

Unexpected Gifts

Aren't the best gifts the ones you don't expect? I got a great present this evening from our good friends the Quinns.  They came over for supper after spending the weekend in Calgary with their daughters.  When they arrived, I was handed a package wrapped in tissue paper.  "This is for you".  "What?  Why?"  It wasn't my birthday, there was no occasion.  Just something they found and thought I'd appreciate.  It's meant to go with my egg basket : It's a GORGEOUS ceramic egg carton that now has a home in the refrigerator.  A couple of months ago I got another unexpected gift from a friend of mine in choir.  I had helped a tiny bit in helping her design a logo for her business and quite a while afterward she handed me a bag and said:  "I've been looking and looking for something suitable.  I know you don't like plastic or lots of packaging".  She bought me a "Thoughtful Gardener" set of shears. They were packaged

Lessons from a robin

I saw a robin yesterday.  It was standing on a lawn with a worm in it's beak and suddenly it hit me: "TAKE ONLY WHAT YOU NEED" The robin doesn't take more than it needs.  It doesn't take all the worms in the garden, only the ones it needs to survive and to feed its babes.  It leaves most of them there to help the garden grow, for other birds to eat, for the ants to carry away when they are dead.  It doesn't take all the grass for it's nest - it only takes what it needs to build a nest big enough for it's eggs.  It leaves most of the grass there to grow and protect the soil, to create it's own little environment. If we all lived that way, the world would be in better shape.  Don't you think?  If we all used just what we needed, a great weight would be lifted off of the Earth's shoulders.  Few of us (myself included) are willing or able to live that way.  But perhaps ... if we just did little things here and there, small actions would c


Last weekend I went with Daniel to his first actual campout with the Beavers (Scouts Canada)!  I was in the Guiding movement for 10 years as a youth, and am no stranger to campouts and hiking, so I had a lot of fun!  Especially when the Beaver leader, in mock frustration (or maybe it was real frustration) aimed at myself and another ex-Guider the comment: "Who let the Girl Guides come, anyhow?"  We were showing him up a bit with out camp skills. My husband came out for supper on Saturday night (he is NOT a camper - not that he CAN'T camp, actually, he could survive quite well if he HAD to, but he'd rather just not have to) and laughingly told me I was "in my element".  Which I take as a great compliment.  I like camping.  It is uncomfortable at times, but I really do like the fresh air and the experience in general. Anyhow, we went on a 2-hour plus long nature hike with the 5-7 year old Beavers.  It was grand - crossed the creek on fallen trees both ways

Gardening Adventures: mysterious tomato disorder and albino pea

Well, every year is a gardening adventure.  And I get a thrill out of every bit of it.  This year we have the mysterious tomato disorder.  As mentioned previously , I have two tomato plants that are not doing well.  Grown as clones from an indoor plant (rooted suckers), the plants were doing very well indoors.  Once planted out-of-doors, they started to turn dark, mottled with yellowing patches and curled downward - not wilted, but definitely not doing well.  I could not find a good disease/disorder match with a picture from the Internet, and fearing a contagious disease, I dug up one of the plants and took it out to Arber Greenhouse  to see if someone could tell me what the problem is.  At first I talked to some of the employees, and due to frost conditions in the previous days, they suggested frost damage.  Since the discolouration had happened over days prior to the freeze, and since the leaves weren't actually damaged, I waited and talked to the owner, Berta - our local garde

Plastic Forum

Thursday night, June 2, 2011, I participated in a Twitter forum on plastics.  I was invited to join by Beth Terry of My Plastic Free Life .  Thanks, Beth, for the invite! It was interesting.  Lots of people tweeting at once, so it wasn't so much a conversation as a bunch of individual comments with a few responses - but it gave me a good idea of where people's concerns generally lie.  And they tend not to be as broad-focused as mine (don't get me wrong, there's lots of people out there who are concerned about the effects of plastics on the environment, but not all of them - and I was surprised by some of the comments). It turns out that a lot of the plastic-oponents out there are more concerned about what the chemicals in plastics are doing to their own bodies, as opposed to the planet.  And I get that.  No doubt that the chemicals in plastics are bad for our bodies.  But I see the human body as being a small symptom of what is the real problem.  After all, if the p