Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Visitors


Although it's been quiet on this blog, a lot has been going on at my house.  One of the most exciting happenings is having visitors.  We've been honored to be visited by two of the missionaries from Danita's Children:  Danita Estrella and Brenda Sapp.  It's awesome to get to spend some quality time with them.  They're both beautiful ladies, both inside and out, and we're enjoying their company.  In addition, as they're staying in our guest house, I'm hoping they're getting some much needed R&R while they're here. 

For those who don't regularly read this blog, these ladies are part of a team who run an orphanage and school in Ouanaminthe, Haiti.  The orphanage houses 77 orphans and the school educates and feeds over 500 children.  Life is harsh in Haiti and the orphanage/school (Hope for Haiti's Children) is a virtual oasis.  These women are on call 24/7 and often deal with actual life and death decisions.  These ladies and saints and my heros.  I'm so glad they've chosen to spend some of their precious free time with us.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quote for the Day

"Not until we extend the circle of compassion to include all living things shall we ourselves know peace."
~Albert Schweitzer

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wrap Up


I hope my readers had a wonderful Christmas Day.  Now that Christmas is behind me, I'm mentally wrapping up this year and looking towards the next.  Unlike a lot of people, I don't make New Year's Resolutions; I feel that it just sets me up for failure.  Most resolutions are unrealistic and unattainable; we overburden ourselves by expecting immediate transformation of our lives. 

Rather than resolutions, I try to set quarterly goals with step-by-step directions for myself.  Say, if I have ten things I want to do or change, I don't set them as resolutions to start on January 1st.  Instead, I look at the list and pick out about three items that I think are the most important and that I think are realistic to accomplish in three months.  Then I look at my schedule and see how I can work towards the goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  I set deadlines and rewards to keep me motivated.  At the end of the quarter, I look at what I've accomplished and then pick new goals for the next quarter.  Sometimes the past quarter's goals are actually habits I've acquired rather than a goal with an end (i.e., exercise daily versus lose 10 pounds).  So, once the habit is established, I continue on without giving it much more thought.

This week I'll be setting aside some time to think about what goals to set for myself.  I actually look forward to the process, seeing it as a time of renewal and improvement.  It's a very positive way to begin a new year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Birthday to the Prince of Peace

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.
 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice
when dividing the plunder.

For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.

Every warrior's boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

~Isaiah 9:2-9:8

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Farm Happenings


Last weekend while I was out of town, we got the edge of the northeastern blizzard.  About 8 inches of snow fell on the farm, blanketing everything in a lovely covering of white.  Although I hate the cold, the snow does look pretty. 

In addition to the snow news, we have new baby goats!  Two of the nannys were pregnant and gave birth on the same day - yesterday!  Sheena and Judy both gave birth to twin girls - Blondie and Barbie; Ramona and Sharona.  All are healthy and happy.  It's amazing how baby goats (I don't call them kids because that's what I call my human children) get up on their feet so quickly.  And I marvel at how most goat mothers immediately bond with and care for their babies.  I love how the mamas are so trusting of us when it comes to their babies. 

Last Day of Challenge!

I finished the "100 Things Challenge" this morning!  Here's the tally:

82-88 Quality costume jewelry (to be saved for the church rummage sale)
89 Orphan sock
90 Old prescription glasses to be donated to Lions Club
91 Key chain
92-100 Miscellaneous junky costume jewelry I never wear

Done!  That was a very painless and quick way to declutter.  I'm thinking I need to make this a regular quarterly ritual.  While I don't entirely agree with the whole practice of feng shui, I do know that according to scientists, everything has energy.  When I have too much *energy* (i.e, clutter) around, it makes me feel bad.  Going through my possessions and eliminating those that aren't earning their keep is a great exercise in creating more tranquility in my life.

Challenge Continues

Yesterday I got some more purging done. Here's the tally:

41-46 Misc. disposable plastic containers that I've been hanging onto out of guilt but for which I have absolutely no use...
47-50 Coats and jackets from hall closet (either outgrown or unused).  I'll donate these to charity.
51-53 Old wire hangers from hall closet
54-57 flip flops and sandals
58 fabric flower pin
59 leather belt
60 fabric belt
61-64 summer scarves
65-68 winter scarves.  I'll donate these to charity
69 pair of old gloves
70-71 thermal hoods
72 fabric headband
73 straw hat
74 another winter scarf
75-77 winter hats
78-79 more gloves
80 another straw hat (had been part of a costume)
81 pair of shoes that are not at all my style

This challenge reminds me of the "27 fling boogie" on Flylady, but her assignment is to throw away 27 items and then give away 27 more.  Either way, it's a way of decluttering and simplifying life.  Only 19 more items to go!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day One of the Challenge

I started the 100 things challenge today.  I must admit I think I might have cheated a little as I already had a box in my closet that I was starting to put things in;  however, it was still in my closet and now it's gone.  So far:

1-25 Items of clothing that were either 1) the wrong color for me; 2) the wrong style for me; 3) didn't fit well; 4) were duplicates of things I didn't need duplicates of; 5) worn out items.
26-27 Old sunglasses
28-30 Novels I finished that I will never re-read
31-33 Old shoes
34-37 More items of clothing
38 Key chain
39 Cardboard jewelry box
40 Cloth drawstring bag from some purchase that I can't even remember

Well, I'm off to a great start today - almost halfway there!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

100 Things

Last month, I read about the 100 Things Challenge on La Bella Figura.  Although I had planned to participate, I didn't.  Then, I read about the challenge again, this time on The Closet Therapist, and I realized it's not too late to do it.  So this week I'm going to be editing my possessions, eliminating things that are just clutter in my life.  I try to be a minimalist, only keeping what I really love and use, but sometimes things start to accumulate.  I don't know if it's considered cheating or not, but I'm going to relegate most items to my basement for now.  You see, I'm going to organize a rummage sale at my church to raise money for a missionn trip to Haiti.  Although I want the clutter out of my house and out of my life, I'm going to postpone it temporarily.  And I assure you that I'm one of those people who, once an item is in the giveaway/discard pile, I don't go back for anything.  I'll begin this challenge tomorrow and post what goes.

Quote for the Day

We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts.

-Madeleine L'Engle

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Boat Drinks

I gotta go where it's warm. See you in a few days....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life

For those of you familiar with the movie "It's a Wonderful Life," you know the scene where George Bailey finds himself standing outside his home on a dark, wintery night, peering in the window at his family and friends.  At that moment George concludes that everyone would have been better off if he had never been born.  Last night, as I headed out to put the chickens to bed, I had a similar experience.  It was dark and cold and all the rooms downstairs were lit up.  It was an odd feeling, peering into my own life. However, unlike George, it really struck me how blessed I am and what a wonderful life I have.  I hope I have many such moments over my lifetime so I will always appreciate the things that I have and the life I've been given.  And that is my Christmas wish for all my readers - to be grateful for all that life has to offer. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Update on French Language Book Drive

This morning I learned that any books donated for the orphanage in Ouanaminthe should be sent through the U.S. office of Danita's Children in order for them to obtain the discounted shipping rate of $1.50 per pound.  Sorry for the confusion.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Idea for Advent Conspiracy Participants


Recently, a facebook friend put up a challenge help stock the school library at Danita's Children in Ouanaminthe, Haiti.  The children in Haiti receive their education in French.  Although they have textbooks, they have very few reference and fiction titles.  Getting French language books is a challenge for them because most donors live in the United States, and only have English language books available.  In addition, they share an island with the Dominican Republic where Spanish is spoken.  Thus, they can purchase supplies in the D.R. but cannot buy French books.  My facebook friend challenged people to go to www.amazon.com (her wish list is under Julia Krusac) or to www.frenchbooksonline.com, and purchase some books for children ages 7 and up.  Have them shipped to: 

Danita Estrella #17645
C/O Agape Flights
100 Airport Avenue
Venice, FL 34285 USA

It would also help the orphanage to offset shipping costs by donating $1.50 per pound through either a direct donation on http://www.facebook.com/l/d2d21;Danitaschildren.org (and put "Books For Orphans" in the comment box) or by mailing a check directly to Danita's Children, Hope for Haiti Children's Center, Inc.,
P.O. Box 864311, Orlando, FL 32886.

This is a wonderful opportunity to give a gift that is truly needed.  Unlike in the United States, public schools in Haiti are practically nonexistent.  90% of schools are private and have very few resources.  Reading and literacy open worlds to children.  Let's help the children in Haiti have access to another world.

Bear with Me

This week I realized that I won't be doing as much posting as I usually do.  What with Christmas, my children's birthdays (yes, I had two Christmas babies), and my children being homefrom college, I'm not likely to sit down to share my thoughts with those who listen.  In addition, I'm preparing to start graduate school next semester so I'm trying to work out a schedule that allows me plenty of study time.  I still plan to continue with my volunteer work:  at the Humane Society, at the local domestic violence/sexual assault shelter, with my women's group, and, of course, all that I can do long distance to help those at Danita's Children in Haiti.  So, if I seem a bit absent over the next three or so weeks, I'm still around and plan to blog regularly after the first of the year.  In the meantime, my posts will probably be less frequent and sporatic - but I'm still around!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thought

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."

Hebrews 13:2, NIV Bible

Friday, December 4, 2009

A History Lesson

While in college, my first upper-level course was one entitled "The French Revolution."  The course was difficult, with a lot of reading and writing, but I loved it and ultimately changed my major from business administration to history.  As I studied the revolution, I felt that Marie Antoinette and her husband, King Louis XVI, were given a bad rap.  Those of you with a basic understanding of French history know that both went to the guillotine for their "crimes."  Many people also believe Marie Antoinette uttered the famous words, "Let them eat cake."   (There is no proof that she said it.)  In reviewing all the evidence, I found that the king and queen were not necessarily insensitive to the needs of the peasants.  Despite their historical reputaions, they really weren't bad people, just individuals in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Both Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were raised with a certain standard of living and had certain expectations as far as what it meant to be French.  Their perception of the world was the result of being pampered and of being isolated from the common people.  Their world was one of opulence and they only associated with other royals and nobles.  Thus, they were clueless as to the suffering of the poor.  Marie Antoinette could have easily said, "Let them eat cake," because in her world, if you were out of bread, you just ate something else.  Food shortages (and other issues faced by the peasants) were not part of her vocabulary.

I've gone into this long history lesson because I believe that Americans are no different than these doomed royals.  For the most part, we view the world from a position of comfort and abundance.  Ours is a nation where the number one health problem among the poor is obesity.  We don't know what it's like to go days without food, to have to drink polluted water, to be displaced by wars, or to lack basic medical care.  So, as we interact with the rest of the world (the other 95%), we are wearing rose-colored glasses.  We don't mean to be insensitive, it's just that we have a skewed reference point .

During this advent season, I encourage everyone to take some time to get to know our "neighbors," those with whom we share this planet.  As we have learned from Marie and Louis, we are what we know, so let's set out to learn.  Read a book, watch a documentary, or research on the internet.  Let's try to understand the rest of the world and look upon them with love and compassion.  And avoid going down in history as a nation who thought the rest of the world should just eat cake.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent


Those of you in the Christian community know that Advent began yesterday.  Advent is the season leading up to Christmas and begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas.  During this time, Christians anticipate and prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ.  Some could say it usual begins the first Sunday after Black Friday.  What a contrast - a "holiday" celebrating greed  and getting stuff and a "holy day" celebrating sacrifice and giving.  The people at Advent Conspiracy want those within the Church to see this season with new eyes.  Instead of spending our time and money shopping for and buying things that most people don't want or need, they challenge us to make this season meaningful by giving our time and money to those who really need it.  Go to the website, check it out, and join the conspiracy.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Quote of the Day

A believer is an evangelist primarily by who he is and how he lives–not by what he says. What he says is important; but unless his speaking tallies with what he is and does, he had better keep quiet.


~Joseph Sittler
 
[I discovered this quote on an interesting blog, Wonder of Creation]

Friday, November 27, 2009

Green Journeys

Erin at The Conscious Shopper is hosting the APLS Carnival for December (I'm jumping the gun a bit here).   Her questions revolved around how we became green and how we are continuing that journey.  Here's my response:

In some ways, I've been trying to live close to the earth my entire life. I chalk that up to growing up in Southern California. As an adult, I've slowly adopted a greener lifestyle. There have been times when I've had a wakeup call that made me realize how far I have strayed from my beliefs. One major turning point was when I took a required class in college. One of the first books we had to read was How Much Is Enough? by Alan Durning. This book opened my eyes to how unsustainable the American lifestyle is and how greedy we appear to the rest of the world. Later, a bad case of food poisioning made me return to my vegetarian roots and got me reading books like Fast Food Nation.


For many years, I was alone in my quest to green my life and to influence others to do so. I've recycled for years and have used recycled paper products or rags whenever possible. Most of my personal care products are all natural and I try to use vinegar and baking soda for cleaning. My husband would roll his eyes at many of my green practices. However, when we moved back to his home town, he began to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle. One of his biggest joys is his compost pile! Now my biggest struggle is plastic. I feel guilty every time I get a "to go" beverage because I know the the plastic lid, plastic straw, and (sometimes) plastic cup are so bad for the environment. I did a bag-free month back in October and am trying to do that as much as possible by keeping reusuable bags in my car. Now I have to remember to bring my own cup with me where ever I go.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing all of my readers a safe and happy Thanksgiving weekend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holiday Reminder


Rachel, at Bramble Trails, reminded me that Friday is Buy Nothing Day.  Stay at home and enjoy your time with family and friends.  You don't really need all that *stuff* and neither do your loved ones.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Farm News

Last Friday I was in the hen house filling the feeder and waterer and collecting eggs.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of our black hens chasing off one of the barn cats, which I thought was a bit unusual.  I continued working when I heard a flock of birds outside.  Since it was late in the day, about five o'clock, I wondered what the birds were up to.  Looking outside, I saw a beautiful sight:  the black hen had nine little black and white chicks scurrying around her feet!  Our cat must have gotten too close to the babies so, being a good mother, the hen chased off the cat.  I ran back to the house to grab a camera but by the time I returned, the chicken family had gone into hiding.  I had no idea that one of our chickens was roosting in secret.  This is the largest *batch* we've ever had - and they were hatched without human intervention.  Now we know, when a hen goes broody, just leave it alone. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Great Book

I recently read a wonderful book, The Hole in Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision.  Mr. Stearns shares his life story and faith journey, from his conversion to Christianity, his rise to CEO of Lenox, his realization that the church has lost its way, his decision to accept the position at World Vision, and his journey to embrace the entire gospel. 

I want to share Mr. Stearn's own translation of Matthew 25:35-36:

"For I was hungry, while you had all you needed.  I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water.  I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported.  I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes.  I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness.  I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved."
It really makes one think, doesn't it?  This book puts the spotlight on the church and how we have lost our way.  We've become more about "us" and less about those who Christ has told us to care for.  While reading this book, I couldn't put the highlighter down.  

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Quote for the Day

"When will we be ashamed to call Christian those who trust in the sword?"
~Emil Fuchs

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Local Seasons

Today I realized a new season has begun - hunting season.  It's that time of year when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of deer gutting.  It's a time when spring/summer wardrobes are carefully put away and the camouflage is unpacked.  After several years of living here, I'm starting to learn some of the nuances of dressing for the season.  For example, I now know there is a difference between city wear and country wear.  For city wear, one usually wears a camouflage t-shirt, camouflage overalls, and heavy boots that may or may not be camouflage.  Depending on the weather, one might wear a camouflage jacket on top.  All of this is topped off with a camo cap.  However, for country wear, it would be a major faux pas to wear this; the camo cap MUST be exchanged for a nice blaze orange cap.  It is very important to have the blaze orange cap in the country to prevent other slightly inebriated hunters from shooting you as you (and sometimes your dogs) stake out your territory - usually on private property.  It would be very embarrassing to shoot your buddy in the face (as we know from past news stories).  Of course, the landowners also have to wear appropriate garb when relaxing at home.  They may forgo the camouflage but either a blaze orange cap or vest is de rigueur.  One or both of these items is necessary to save a hunter from the misfortune of shooting you on your own property.  Heaven forbid someone living in the country would walk outside his or her own home without appropriate garb.

Speaking of heaven, about a year ago a large, nationally-known sporting goods store opened in our city.  My husband and I visitied the store one day; I think he was in search of some fishing gear.  As he perused the isles of poles and lures, I decided to venture out beyong the yoga wear section.  I stumbled upon red neck nirvana!  Camouflage everywhere!  There was a whole department devoted to everything camo.  It almost hurt my eyes to look at it.  It was then that I knew that despite the economy, despite the high prices, this store is going to succeed in our community. 

This time of year there are amazing sights to see.  Masses of camouflaged men congregate in grocery store parking lots - preening like peacocks.  They gather together to purchase supplies for the day:  Little Debbie snacks and beer.  Oftentimes, men bring along their sons, mini-me's swaggering about in head-to-toe camo.  In some ways I'm jealous, because these little boys have mastered something I'm still trying to understand:  how does one coordinate the various patterns of camouflage?  How do you know when it clashes or is just too much?  Perhaps a reader could enlighten me.

In the meantime, I have another question.  Why the camouflage?  Deer are color blind; it doesn't matter to them what you wear.  Once, while out for a walk on my farm, my hubby and I stumbled upon some deer grazing on the side of a hill.  As soon as we saw them, we froze.  We could tell that they sensed a presence but they couldn't see us - despite the fact that I was wearing hot pink yoga pants.  Also, if deer are fooled by the camouflage, clearly they would spot the blaze orange caps.  Ah, the mysteries of living in a different culture.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rain

It's been raining all week thanks to the remnants of Ida.  The creeks and rivers in our area are dangerously close to flooding.  We're situated on a high spot so if we're threatened then someone needs to start building an ark.  A week or so ago hubby switched pastures on our two flocks of goats.  Goats hate the rain but our younger flock, which got moved to the barn pasture, has been hanging out in the far corner in an attempt to be near the other goats, leaving a four stall barn empty except for the somewhat brighter horse.  In the meantime, the other goats have been nice and dry in their little run-in shed.  Last night I heard the bleating (is that the right word?) of a goat and thought one had gone into premature labor.  So, I forced myself out into the rain to check.  I found the goats all safe and healthy in two of the stalls.  The bleating must have been due to an "aha" moment on the part of one of the goats - "hey, we're out in the pouring rain when there are several nice and dry stalls waiting for us."  But this morning I found them out in the rain again - silly goats!

The rain has gotten to me, too.  I got into housewife mode to distract myself from thinking warm, dry thoughts of Florida.  One project I've been putting off (mainly because it's not really that important to me) was using a *magic eraser* to remove various marks off the walls downstairs.  I found this to be a scary project.  I mean, what are these erasers made of?  And where do they go (and so quickly)?  I guess that's a good rainy day research project....

The Ten Commandments for States

Yesterday I finished reading The Quaker Reader (edited by Jessamyn West).  I found these commandments to be a refreshing new way of applying the original biblical ten commandments since our nation legally recognizes corporations (and government entities) as having the same legal rights as individuals. 


"The morality of the nations must be as the morality of the individual writ large, therefore,


I. The State shall not exalt the false gods of national glory, national pride, national greed, for the Lord God is a jealous God, visiting the disobedience of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation of those that neglect Him, and showing mercy unto thousands of those that love Him and keep His commandments.


II. Every State shall acknowledge that all men are equally the children of God, and recognize the brotherhood of all men and the rights of primitive peoples.


III. The State shall not bear false witness against its neighbours, for Christ has said, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you."


IV. The State shall do no murder, nor order its subjects to kill.


V. The State shall not steal, nor keep what it gains by force, for Christ has said "It is more blessed to give that to receive." "Give, and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over."

VI. The State shall not covet its neighbours' wealth, nor its neighbours' territory, nor anything that is theirs.

VII. The State shall not judge in its own case, for too often we fail to see the beam in our own eye, looking only for the mote in our brother's eye.

VIII. The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, and no State shall fear the prosperity of another, but rather rejoice in it.

IX. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy mind, and thy neighbour State as thine own country.

X. The State shall not seek its own life, for whosoever would save his life, shall lose it.

LOVE IS THE LAW OF LIFE. FOR GOD IS LOVE."
(by A. Ruth Fry)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Back Again

This past month or so I've been neglecting both my blog and the blogs that I like to read.  Most of the month I spent promoting a contemporary Christian concert at our church.  It was my first experience as a concert promoter and, as times, the details overwhelmed me:  meals for the band members, hotel rooms, mailing flyers, taking care of special requests, etc.  In the end, it was worth it.  Every attendee we've spoken to has had nothing but positive things to say; many commented on the quality of the bands and the reasonable ticket price.  It was a very satisfying outcome.

In the meantime, I had a lot going on in my personal life.  We had many visits from family and friends.  Both of my college-age children blasted through a couple of times, friends in tow.  One of my uncles was terminally ill and I ended up spending time at the hospital, attending his funeral, and visiting with my aunt, cousin, sister, and a number of family members I had not seen in years.  It was a sad time but there was also a lot of joy as I spent time with a some wonderful people.

I'm now ready to rejoin the blogging world - both as a writer and reader.  This week I want to catch up on on the great blogs that I regularly enjoy and then dive in to adding posts to my own blog.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Nov. 8 is National Orphan Sunday

There are 148 million orphans in the world. This video focuses on the plight of the orphans of one of our closest neighbors, Haiti.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jackson Browne says Bottled Water is Inconvenient!

I found this testimony over at Fake Plastic Fish (http://fakeplasticfish.com). If rock stars can do this, so can everyone.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Poem for the Day

The same force formed the sparrow

That fashioned man, the king;
The God of the Whole gave a spark of soul
To each furred and feathered thing.
And I am my brother's keeper,
And I will fight his fight,
And speak the word for beast and bird…


~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Award


My cup overflows!  Lisa at Retro Housewife Goes Green gave me this award!  Thanks so much!

Here are the rules . . .

1.) Thank and post URL to the blog that gave the award.

2.) Pass the award along to 6 brilliantly over the top blogs (blogs you love!) Alert them so they know to receive the award.


I’m nominating these 6 blogs:

Posted from Home
This Vintage Chica
GeorgiaPeachez
Power to the Peaceful
The Frugal Girl
Ecology of a Woman

3.) Copy and paste this quiz… Change the answers, ONE word only!!

1-Your cell phone? Old
2- Your hair? Brown
3-Your mother? Southern
4-Your father? Southern
5-Your favorite food? Vegetarian
6-Your favorite drink? IcedTea
7-Your dream last night? Scary
8-Your dream/goal? Peace
9-What room are you in? Family
10-Your hobby? Reading
11-Your fear? Pain
12-Where do you want to be in 6 years? Traveling
13-Where were you last night? Home
14-Something that you aren’t? Superhero
15-Muffin? Blueberry
16-Wish list item? Nothing
17-Where did you grow up? California
18-Last thing you did? Cleaned
19-What are you wearing? Jeans
20-Your TV? CSI
21-Your pets? Many
22-Friends? Yes
23- Your life? Complicated
24-Your mood? Relaxed
25-Missing someone? Yes
26-Vehicle? Honda
27-Something you aren’t wearing? Shoes
28-Your favorite store? Amazon
29-Favorite color? All
30-When was the last time you laughed? Today
31-Last time you cried? Haiti
32-Your best friend? Bill
33-One place you go to over and over? Barnes/and/Noble
34-One person who emails you regularly? Bill
35-Favorite place to eat? Out

Advent Conspiracy

A better way to celebrate Christmas.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Factory Farms, Global Warming, and Disease

This morning, my hubby sent me a link to an article that I had to share with my readers as I know many of you are concerned about environmental and health issues.  Author Jonathan Safran Foer began doing research into the food industry, specifically the meat business, after becoming a father.  What he found shocked him.  According to Foer, the factory meat industry is "arguably the No. 1 cause of global warming: The United Nations reports the livestock business generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined."  In addition, it is "a decisive factor in the creation of zoonotic diseases like bird and swine flu, and the list goes on."  Not only does the meat industry inflict unspeakable pain and suffering on farm animals, it is killing us and our planet.  It seems that in this country, we want to pretend we have no control over the causes of what ails us; we're too busy looking for "cures."  Read more about Foer's findings on CNN's web site.

Stuff

Once again, I've been neglecting my blog.  Life has been busy lately what with two college-age children coming and going (and bringing their friends with them).  I'm not complaining - it's wonderful to see them and know they love their home so much they have to bring their friends along as well.  Plus I've gotten to go visit them at their universities - our son is 1 1/2 hours away and our daughter is almost 4 1/2 hours away.  Hubby and I went to see our daughter a couple of weeks ago and made a very nice weekend of it.  We had lunch with her and took her book shopping afterwards.  Then we had dinner and spent the night with some friends in the area.  The next day they took us to Little Saigon in the Washington, DC suburbs where we had a traditional Vietnamese breakfast.  We then drove to Charlottesville where we poked around the great used bookstores downtown, had a nice dinner, and then attended a great concert at the Charlottesville Pavillion.  It was hard to return home after such a great weekend.


Now we're fully entrenched in promoting a concert at our church.  For anyone in the Danville, Virginia area, the concert is November 5 at 7:00 at New Life Community Church.  It's a concert with contemporary Christian music with Robbie Seay Band, Bethany Dillon, and Caleb (featuring the sons of Michael Curtis Chapman).  All ticket sales go to benefit the orphanage in Haiti that we visited over the summer.  It should be a great concert and a blessing to the children that live at the orphanage and/or attend the school (76 children live there and over 500 children from the community attend the school).

After the concert, I expect to get back to my usual blogging ways - for better or worse. ;)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Quote for the Day

"Use what talents you possess:  the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." 

~Henry Van Dyke

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award


Thanks so much to Deanna at Tea with Dee for giving me this award.



The 'rules' for the award are listed below:


1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link the person who nominated you.
4. Name seven things about yourself that no one would really know.
5. Nominate seven "Kreativ Bloggers."
6. Post links to the seven blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them

Now, here goes with the seven things you might not know about me:

1. I think I'm the only woman on earth who loves The Three Stooges.
2. I wanted to be a spy when I was growing up or at least a detective.
3. I'm a hardcore vegetarian, except when it comes to Caesar salads - those pesky anchovies!
4. As a teenager, I was obsessed with the L.A. Dodgers because I thought they were cute.
5. I'm a closet sunflower seed eater.
6. Even when it wasn't cool, I liked disco music.
7. I once sang with Buckwheat Zydeco.

I'm passing on this award to the following bloggers:

1. The Conscious Shopper
2. La Bella Figura
3. Suburban Turmoil
4. Eco Yogini
5. Miss Pink Ponsonby's Swell Soiree
6. Country Pleasures
7. Une Vie Chic

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day - Global Climate Change


Today has been chosen as blog action day and  bloggers around the world are joining together to bring awareness to the very serious issue of global climate change.  I'm far from an expert on the subject but am very concerned about it. 

One of my pet peeves is individuals who deny that humans have a part in the changes we've been seeing in weather and climate.  Many say the changes are natural and the actions of humans have no effect whatsoever.  I have two things to say about that.  First of all, anyone who grew up in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s knows how bad the air pollution got.  It's almost surreal when I tell people that there were days when children were not allowed outside for recess or to play in back yards.  The air was too filthy.  The entire Los Angeles basin was filled with polluted air.  The cause:  human actions.  Luckily, citizens realized this problem was human made and steps were taken to cut back on car emissions.  Now, the air in Los Angeles is much cleaner than when I was a child.  As the industrialized world grows, so do the number of cars and factories spewing pollutants into the air.  Imagine what this is doing to the globe.  If we take steps now, we might be able to see a global turnaround just as Los Angeles has seen.  If not, the earth can change in unforseen ways, threatening our health, our crops, and other creatures on the planet.

Secondly, for those who deny that humans are causing the climate change crisis, what is the down side to taking steps to clean up the earth?  Limiting how we use resources and keeping a check on pollutants are good things in themselves.  Our health will benefit thus lowering health care costs.  Wise utilization of resources will ensure that all the world can share in prosperity.   Who can be against that?

Scientists have shown that we are definitely going through climate change.  It's a shame that individuals are taking sides against the health of the globe based on what politicians say and which politicians they support.  Having an open mind and taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint is a win/win situation.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Widow's Mite

Ever since I returned from Haiti, I've been sharing my story with everyone who will listen.  The plight of the Haitians has gotten under my skin and I feel it my mission to spread their story.  Recently, a woman who has heard the story and seen the slide shows approached me about helping the children at Danita's Children.  She doesn't have internet access so was unable to donate online.  I told her to give me her check and I'd mail it to the orphanage for her.  Seems she's on a very low, fixed income and has been wanting to help the children at the orphanage as their story really touched her heart.  She recently received an extra bit of money and wanted to use it to help the orphans in Haiti.  This beautiful woman, who has so little, wanted to share it with those who had even less.  Yesterday, as I tucked the check into an envelope, it dawned on me:  this woman is giving the widow's mite.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy Belated St. Francis of Assisi Day

"Preach the Gospel always. Use words if necessary." - St. Francis of Assisi

Yesterday was St. Francis of Assisi Day.  He's one of my heroes so I thought I'd share a little piece of his wisdom here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Helping Others

This past week I had the good fortune to be able to hear Pulitzer Prize winning author Tracy Kidder speak at North Carolina State University.  Among other things, he discussed his recent book, Strength in What Remains, an incredible story about Deo, a man who escaped from war-torn Burundi, spent time as a homeless man in New York City, graduated from Columbia University, and eventually returned to his homeland to build medical clinics.  Tracy Kidder also wrote a book entitled Mountains Beyond Mountains about Dr. Paul Farmer, a man who has devoted his life to fighting infectious diseases, first in Haiti and then around the world. 

In the meantime, I picked up a book at the library - Be the Change by Lisa Endlich.  This book profiled several individuals who made fortunes and were in a position to spend the rest of their lives in extreme luxury.  Instead, they chose to give back to their communities and to the world.  These individuals included people like Bill and Melinda Gates, and Donna and Philip Berber.

All of the individuals featured in the above-named books are such an inspiration to me.  Although most of us could never fund a large program, we can do small things in big ways.  After all, Mother Teresa said you have to begin with the first person.  Several things I got from Endlich's book were:  you need to have passion about what you do; you need to research the organizations you support to see where the money is going and what impact you can make;  you need to ask benefactors "what do you need?" rather than deciding what you will give; and you need to realize that you will make mistakes - it's part of the learning process.

My experiences this week have made me more committed than ever to helping others, even in small ways.  The old cliche is true:  I feel I get much more out of it than I give.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Story of Stuff

A simple, yet effective video about how our consumer society is impacting the world. (Thank you Rachel for bringing it to my attention!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Haves and Have Nots

I've had a lot of mental conflicts since returning from Haiti.  I find myself in stores, picking up things I *need*, paying for them, bringing them home, and then feeling guilty.  Because I've seen real needs.  They're not the things that we in the industrialized world see as needs.  I don't really need a new blouse or a new pillow as the ones I own are perfectly acceptable and functional.  Some things I can somewhat justify:  I need a new pair of running shoes so that I don't damage my feet or knees.  And running is important because it's a way for me to keep healthy in a couch potato world.  However, real needs include clean drinking water, sufficient food to fuel our bodies, clothing to protect our bodies from the elements, shelter over our heads, access to education, and affordable health care.  I already have all of those things.

I understand why it's such a struggle to separate needs from wants.  Several years ago, I read a book called Why We Buy:  The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill.  It's a frightening read and makes one understand the irrisistable need to buy, buy, buy.  You see, the marketeeers know us better than we know ourselves.  They use psychological tricks to get into our heads, to make it impossible to venture into a store or mall and leave either without buying anything or with just what we set out to buy in the first place.  It takes superhuman strength to overcome some of the tricks utilized to turn on the desire to acquire things.  

For many years, I've strived to live a simple life and avoided acquiring a lot of stuff.  But now, I'm finding simple, everyday purchases as suspect.  When I think about the fact that a casual purchase at the mall could instead be turned into an opportunity for a child to go to school and eat for a monthy,well, it changes everything.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No Impact Man

I have to admit, although I've heard of No Impact Man, I really haven't been following his blog.  Recently I learned that he has now published a book about his experience in trying to live extremely lightly on the earth.  In addition to his book, there's a movie by the same name.  Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until it comes out on DVD because it's not going to be playing anywhere near my house.  For those of you interested in seeing the film, here's the site:  http://www.noimpactdoc.com/index_m.php.  In the meantime, I'm going to try to get my hands on the book.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Breath of Fresh Air

Last night I attended a new book club meeting.  And what a fabulous evening I had.  Although the premise was to discuss the book we had all read, we ended up spending most of the time talking and sharing.  It was a small group, six of us, and we came from all walks of life.  But it was one of the most open, honest experiences I've had in the last few years.  The discussion touched on various aspects of our lives but the common thread was that all but one of us was fairly new to this part of the world.  We were all independent-minded women living in an ultra-conservative world.  It was one of the few times that I sensed I could honestly discuss my views without feeling that I was looked upon as someone with a third eye in the middle of my forehead.  And without fear that my house would soon be firebombed.  I'm looking forward to next month's meeting and hoping that it will continue in the same vein.  It's a pity I have to drive over an hour to attend but I'm thinking it will be well worth it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Peace

Today is International Day of Peace

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quote for the Day

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it."
~Helen Keller

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tis the Season

Just a few more days and summer will be officially over.  It seems everyone is already talking about how the weather has changed.  It's gotten slightly chilly here but at least the sun has been shining.  Well, no more.  Family and friends to the west of us have said it's been raining for several days.  Looks like it's moved in our direction.  Those of us who tend to suffer from S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) need to prepare ourselves for the upcoming season.  I've accumulated some (I hope) good books to read and am loading my ipod with some fun music and intriguing audio books.  I'll have to force myself to get outside on the days the sun does shine (despite the cold temperature) and make sure to take vitamin D supplements on a daily basis.  I rejoined the gym and am training to run a 5K in November.  Of course, a couple of trips to Florida always seems to be the right cure for S.A.D.!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Facebook Breakup

Be careful out there.

Monday, September 14, 2009

This is an Emergency

The missionaries and staff at Danita's Children are working miracles every day....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quote for the Day

"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for oneself, one's own family or nation, but for the benefit of all humankind. Universal responsibility is the key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace."

~The Dalai Lama

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Guilty

Last month I spent trying to avoid plastic shopping bags when making purchases.  I'm continuing to say no to plastic bags but I've been guilty of something worse.  I buy iced tea at Starbucks.  And I don't bring my own cup.  I've tried to justify it by telling myself that I reuse the cups several times before I finally discard them.  But those plastic cup are forever - they don't go *away* and reusing them doesn't change this fact.  Since we live so far from town I'm usually away from home for long periods of time and a girl just gets thirsty!  I'm an iced tea maniac and try to bring a cup with me (usually in the above-mentioned reused Starbucks cup) but I always seem to run out.  Now that my little dirty secret is public, I'm going to have to change my ways.  For the rest of this month, I'm going to pack a cooler with iced tea AND keep an extra reusable cup in my car for those times that I absolutely, positively have to buy more tea. 

Monday, September 7, 2009

Psych 101

Lately I've been thinking a lot about Maslow's theory on the hierarchy of needs and self-actualization. According to Maslow’s theory, there are five levels of basic needs that must be met before we can self-actualize, that is, reach our full potential as human beings. The basic needs are: physiological, safety, love, self-esteem, and self-actualization. Once we meet the first four needs, we can begin to focus on more intellectual and spiritual pursuits to become the person we were made to be.



Most of the physiological needs must be met or life cannot exist. We need oxygen, food, water, shelter, etc. Next we need to be in secure surroundings. These two levels ensure our physical well-being. Love and then self-esteem keep our minds healthy.

Visiting Haiti last month has triggered my interest in this theory. Anyone reading my blog knows that for most Haitians, their basic needs are not met – some yes, but not most of them. Many don’t have daily meals; some resort to making a kind of mud cake to keep their stomach full when food is unavailable. Shelter is also an issue – not everyone has a place they can call home; sometimes they only have a place where they are allowed to sleep (but not always). Of course, under such conditions, safety is not guaranteed. With a poor, unstable government, the police force is almost nonexistent. Crime is rampant. There is love in Haiti but with most individuals trying to eek out a living, the philosophy is every man for himself. It is hard to love under those conditions.

And it’s hard for me to look at our society here in the United States. For the vast majority of us, all of our basic needs are met. So, according to Maslow’s theory, we should all be focused on being the best people we can be. But that doesn’t appear to be happening. The problem, as I see it, is that we keep raising the bar on what constitutes “basic” needs. The size of our homes continues to increase; we own more cars than any other country; we are weighted down with all the latest electronic gadgets; we are the most obese nation on the planet.


Talking to people, I hear that times are tough, money is tight. Many would like to help others, but they say there’s no money in their budget. But I notice the family eats out on a regular basis; mom has her hair colored and highlighted and gets regular manicures; dad spends Saturday on the golf course; and the kids have their own cell phones. I suppose they don’t realize that sometimes the lack of $20 a month keeps a child from attending school or that a dollar a day can make the difference between living and starvation.

This post isn’t just about Haiti; it’s about human beings around the world who don’t have their basic needs met. Millions of people are dying each year of starvation and preventable diseases. And yet we continue on, raising the bar on what we feel we’re entitled to, what we consider basics. My heart breaks when I think about the suffering that is going on right now as I type this entry. In this country, what we call suffering is usually just discomfort or inconvenience. Not so for the vast majority of other nations.

I’m hoping that this rambling post will make my readers realize that their needs really are met and that we all need to move on to self-actualization, to making the world a better place. Please, take a few minutes to do research on conditions in other parts of the world and then think about what you can do to help.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quote for the Day

"You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing.  Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.  Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me... "
~Mother Teresa

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Goat Wrangling and New Goats


Today hubby and I spent some time managing our herd.  Our latest babies were old enough to be separated from their mothers which meant the boys were taken to the market to be sold (I don't like to think about it) and the mothers moved into another pasture, away from the lone female.  We have to do this because the babies will continue to nurse long after it's necessary for their survival.  It's not easy to move the goats.  We have to load them into a cage in the back of the pickup truck and drive them to the other pasture.  In the meantime, the guard dog and the remaining goats want to run out as soon as we open the gate.  We're trying to come up with a better system - maybe a ramp so we don't have to lift the goats and so we don't have to worry about accidents involving us and their powerful horns. 

In the meantime, while hubby was at the market, a friend called about some female goats he was taking to market and asked if we were interested.  After several calls back and forth, three beautiful young female goats were delivered to our farm.  As is my custom, I had to have a *christening ceremony.*  I spent some time deciding on names and then went out to the barn to determine which name was suitable for each goat.  Thus, we now have:  Angie, Jolene, and Wendy (From left to right:  Jolene, Wendy, and Angie).

The new goats are a bit skittish right now (can't say I blame them) but I think they'll settle down and make a nice addition to White Flint Farm.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bag Challenge Finale

Last month I challenged myself to not use any plastic shopping bags.  I think I did pretty well.  The first week I was given a bag even after I specifically requested no bag.  I know that such bags are disposed of when rejected, so I went ahead and took it home, knowing I'd at least reuse it.  On several occasions, I found myself in a store without my bag.  If I had several purchases, like groceries, I would run out to my car to retrieve my own bags.  If it was just one or two items, I would just leave the store with purchases in hand.  There were two instances when I didn't use my own bags but allowed the purchases to be dropped into platic shopping bags:  when I was college shopping for my kids.  When I shopped for my son, we were in his college town and I didn't even have reusable bags in my car.  I reasoned he could use the bags for his trash cans.  Same with my daughter; although we did shop locally, I knew she would need a few bags for lining her trash can as well.  So, over all, I think I succeeded in my self-challenge and instilled some good habits.  Just because the challenge is over, though, doesn't mean I will slide back into the bag habit.

To help keep me and my readers aware of the unbelievable number of plastic bags consumed on this planet, I've added a counter on the left side of my blog, courtesy of reusable bags.com.

If you have a second, I'd like to hear about your own bag-free experiences.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

24th Annual Coastal Cleanup

September 19th is International Coastal Cleanup Day. Towns and cities across the United States and throughout the world have cleanup activities planned throughout September and October. You don't have to live on the coast to participate; the cleanup includes all kinds of beaches and waterways. My kids and I have participated in this effort in the past and found it very rewarding. Go to the Ocean Conservancy web site to sign up at a location near you.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Politics and Faith

I found the following principles on the website for the National Council of Churches.  Although it's not a major election year, these are things to keep in mind when voting for local representatives and when writing to the president, members of Congress, or other elected officials:

"[O]ur Christian faith compels us to address the world through the lens of our relationship to God and to one another. Public discourse is enhanced as we engage civic leaders on the values and ethics affirmed by our faith. At the same time, religious liberty and the integrity of our democracy will be protected as candidates refrain from using faith-based organizations and institutions for partisan gain. We offer these 10 principles to those seeking to accept the responsibility that comes with holding public office.

1. War is contrary to the will of God. While the use of violent force may, at times, be a necessity of last resort, Christ pronounces his blessing on the peacemakers. We look for political leaders who will make peace with justice a top priority and who will actively seek nonviolent solutions to conflict.

2. God calls us to live in communities shaped by peace and cooperation. We reject policies that abandon large segments of our inner city and rural populations to hopelessness. We look for political leaders who will re-build our communities and bring an end to the cycles of violence and killing.

3. God created us for each other, and thus our security depends on the well being of our global neighbors. We look for political leaders for whom a foreign policy based on cooperation and global justice is an urgent concern.

4. God calls us to be advocates for those who are most vulnerable in our society. We look for political leaders who yearn for economic justice and who will seek to reduce the growing disparity between rich and poor.

5. Each human being is created in the image of God and is of infinite worth. We look for political leaders who actively promote racial justice and equal opportunity for everyone.

6. The earth belongs to God and is intrinsically good. We look for political leaders who recognize the earth's goodness, champion environmental justice, and uphold our responsibility to be stewards of God’s creation.

7. Christians have a biblical mandate to welcome strangers. We look for political leaders who will pursue fair immigration policies and speak out against xenophobia.

8. Those who follow Christ are called to heal the sick. We look for political leaders who will support adequate, affordable and accessible health care for all.

9. Because of the transforming power of God’s grace, all humans are called to be in right relationship with each other. We look for political leaders who seek a restorative, not retributive, approach to the criminal justice system and the individuals within it.

10. Providing enriched learning environments for all of God’s children is a moral imperative. We look for political leaders who advocate for equal educational opportunity and abundant funding for children’s services.

Finally, our religious tradition admonishes us not to bear false witness against our neighbor and to love our enemies. We ask that the campaigns of political candidates and the coverage of the media in this election season be conducted according to principles of fairness, honesty and integrity."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Christ has no body on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours. Ours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out upon the world, ours are the feet with which he goes about doing good, ours are the hands with which he blesses his people."  St. Teresa of Avila

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Why the Hurry?

This morning as I was doing my daily readings, I was struck by the thought that Americans are in too big a hurry.  In the 1700s, Quaker John Woolman said, "So great is the hurry in the spirit of this world, that in aiming to do business quick and to gain wealth, the creation at this day doth loudly groan!"  This sentiment applies even more so today, not just in business but in all our affairs. 

My hubby's recent blog post talking about the war in Afghanistan brought to mind how we rushed into war with Iraq before we had all the facts.  We later learned the truth about the lack of weapons of mass destruction, but it was too late; we had turned our own weapons of mass destruction on innocent civilians.  Within the past year, our government rushed in to borrow billions of dollars to invest in private corporations in order to "save the economy."  The various bills that were passed to fund these bailouts were hastily slapped together.  They were so voluminous that it is impossible that our lawmakers actually read them prior to passing them into law.  Now we are addressing the healthcare "crisis."  Again, we're being pushed into making decisions without careful consideration and honest public debate.  We have a sense of urgency, that it's a now or never deal.  In rushing to fix problems, we tend to create more.  The need to rush to a decision is not based on the issues at hand but on the potential for politicians being voted out of office. 

We need to keep in mind what Alexander Pope said, "For fools rush in where angels fear to tread."  Let's not let artificial timelines mar our judgment.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bag Facts

In the United States and throughout much of the world, we take the ubiquitous plastic bag for granted.  Each and every retail purchase we make is usual deposited in a plastic bag which we carry home and typically discard.  Although we don't think about it, these bags make an enormous impact on life on earth.  Here are a few eye-opening facts:

*4 to 5 trillion plastic bags are manufactured world-wide each year

*Approximately 100 billion are of these bags are plastic shopping bags used in the U.S.

*12 million barrels of oil is required to make those plastic bags

*Only 1-2% of bags are recycled in the U.S.

*Retailers in the U.S. spend about $4 billion annually on plastic bags

*Plastic bags do not biodegrade; they break down into smaller and smaller pieces and are eventually ingested by animals in the food chain

*Over 1 billion seabirds and mammals and approximately 100,000 sea turtles and other marine animals die as a result of ingesting plastic bags; bottom-feeding sea life is affected when plastic bags sink to the bottom of bodies of water, preventing accesss to food.

*About 1,000 miles off the Coast of California is a place called the North Pacific Gyre.  Within this spot is a mass called the Garbage Patch.  It is twice the size of Texas and as deep as 300 feet.  This patch is composed almost entirely of plastic, an estimated 3.5 million tons of plastic.

These facts make my head spin.  And it makes me more determined than ever to answer the question, "Paper or plastic," with "No thanks, I brought my own."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Today's Quote

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Truth Behind the Products

As an environmentalist and one who cares about health issues, I am always searching for information to help me make informed decisions when it comes to purchasing food and personal care products. Through reading Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, I discovered a great web site that rates over 70,000 products on the basis of health, safety, and environmental impact. GoodGuide has a great tool that allows users to search by topic: food, personal care, household chemicals, and toys. Each product receives a rating from 0 to 10 based on several factors, including safety of ingredients, environmental impact, and social issues. The site also has a section for news and recalls.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Modest Proposal for Peace...


I discovered this poster, available for free at Mennonite Central Committee, through a Facebook posting by fellow blogger Deanna. Pass it on.

No Bag Challenge Continues

So far so good on my *no bag challenge.* Besides the plastic bag that I was given the first week, when I specifically said no bag, I've only gotten one other bag. It was a very small paper bag given to me by a crafter friend who insisted I take something in exchange when I gave her some of my old beading supplies. I selected a pair of earrings and without thinking, let her slip them into a paper bag.

Several times I've found myself either in the grocery store or heading there when it dawned on me that I'd forgotten my bags. So, each time I returned to my car to retrieve the bags. It seems every store now sells reusable bags with their logos on them - the grocery store, the drug store, department store, you name it. With all of these reusable bags on the market and all the stores displaying them next to the cash registers, I have a couple of questions. Why do the sales clerks look puzzled when you actually come to the store with bags in hand and ask them to use them? Also, who is buying all these bags (and what do they do with them) because I almost never see anyone bringing bags into the stores? I'm starting to think that retailers are selling these bags as just another point of sale and not to be truly *green.* And the buyers are enjoying their *green* moment when they make the purchase. Sigh.....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An American Hero

Last night I had the privilege of hearing Greg Mortenson speak. For those of you not familiar with his name, Mr. Mortenson has become well known through the best-selling book, Three Cups of Tea. He and his organization, Central Asia Institute, have built 130 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He believes that education, especially the education of girls, is the key to peaceful relations in the world. He is passionate about this cause and has risked his life to bring educational opportunities to children in that corner of the world.

North Carolina State University had Mr. Mortenson speak as part of its freshman program. One of the student organizations challenged the students to donate one dollar each to the Pennies for Peace program. There are approximately 33,000 students at the school. Such a small gesture on the part of each student would raise enough money to build a school in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Imagine if every college and university student donated such a paltry sum? It could change the world.
If you haven't already read Three Cups of Tea, I encourage you to grab a copy and get ready to be inspired.

Sunday, August 16, 2009