Monday, March 29, 2010

Stuff

This past Saturday was the day for Earth Hour.  Hubby and I celebrated it for the second year in a row by lighting candles and spending an hour engrossed in conversation.  It was a nice way to make the world stop for a minute and reconnect on a personal level.  Often our lives are so busy we only talk in quick bits and pieces throughout the day; rarely do we have a long conversation.  I'm sure that's the case with many people.  Although the purpose of Earth Hour is to bring awareness to the fragile nature of our environment and the unsustainability of our power grid, it can also be promoted as a way to reconnect with family and friends on a more meaningful level.  


I'm in the home stretch on my "Not a Cent for Lent" pledge.  Unlike last year, when I gave up watching the news, it really hasn't been that difficult.  Living in the country, away from the temptations of retail, probably helped.  However, when I was in town, there were very few times I even felt tempted.  The first time was in the grocery store when I was reading a magazine at the checkout line and almost tossed it in my basket.  Reviewing these past weeks since Ash Wednesday, I see I really didn't spend any extra money.  The items that came closest were the two iced teas and the one bottle of water I purchased when I was out of town on a day trip.  I don't know if these even count as nonessentials as I had brought my own drinks with me but I drank them and was still thirsty.  This pledge has made me aware of what is necessary and what is a mere desire.  I'm hoping I will keep this in the back of my mind whenever I'm tempted to buy a nonessential - and that I go ahead and purchase what would be meaningful and important to me while forgoing something that would be wasteful in the long run.  




Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quote for the Day

The man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out.  
~Chinese Proverb

Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth Hour 2010 Official video

Don't forget to participate in Earth Hour tomorrow night. Show you care about the future of our planet.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Signs of Spring

Last year, as I was looking for signs of spring in our community, I found that the local mud bog had put up a sign announcing opening day and subsequent events.  This year the local indicator that spring is here was a mechanical bull prominently displayed in the front yard of someone in our community.  I wanted to take a photograph but realized it would look rude if the homeowner saw me doing that.  So, you'll just have to take my word for it.  Spring has arrived in our little corner of the world.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bad Medical Advice

Watching Good Morning America on ABC is part of my weekday morning routine.  While I mainly watch it because it includes our local news and weather, I do enjoy the show.  This morning there was an interesting segment about a disorder I had never heard of:  orthorexia.  (You can read about it here.)  Although experts aren't sure if this should be classified as an eating disorder or an obsessive-compulsive disorder, they do agree it's a very dangerous illness.  Seems there are individuals who become so concerned about putting only healthy food into their bodies that they're starving themselves to death, much like anorexics.  However, after showing a segment with a woman who suffered from this disorder, Good Morning America interviewed their medical expert, Dr. Marie Savard.  Dr. Savard discussed the causes and effects of this disorder, but then said something that made me very angry.  She said eating a diet of fruits and vegetables is too limiting, that we needed to eat meat and dairy in order to get all the amino acids necessary for our health.  Well, to a vegetarian, them's fighting words.  


I often have to explain to people that eating a vegetarian diet provides me with plenty of protein and nutrients. After all, if it didn't, I'd be dead.  In fact, I thought that modern medical thinking had finally come to the conclusion that you don't even have to combine certain foods in order to get a complete protein.  Again, I'd be dead if I needed to combine certain foods in certain ways.  There have been studies that support a vegan diet as the healthiest choice.  The Cancer Project has utilized these studies to educate individuals about cancer prevention.  This organization stresses the link between consumption of animal products and cancer.  


While orthorexia appears to be an very dangerous disorder, it has nothing to do with eliminating animal products from your diet.  If the woman featured on the program had said she was only eating organic food, I'm sure Dr. Savard would not have commented that we need to make sure we include plenty of chemically-laced, processed food in our diet.  This disorder is about obsessiveness and fear, not about eliminating meat.  I'm hoping enough people write in about Dr. Savard's irresponsible comments and that Good Morning America does a segment on vegan and vegetarian diets as part of a healthy lifestyle.  


Monday, March 22, 2010

Goat Doctoring

My daughter was home for Spring Break a couple of weeks ago and had various friends visit over the course of the week.  One friend hadn't been to the farm in a while and was surprised by the number of goats.  She asked our daughter when had our goats multiplied.  Seems we have become full-fledged goat farmers.


A couple of weeks ago we had another sick goat.  Maggie, our "beta" goat, the alpha goat's side kick, came down with mastitis.  Not knowing much about how to treat it, I had the vet come out to look at her.  He put her on some antibiotics and all seemed to go during her treatment.  By the second day off antibiotics, she had a relapse so I called the vet.  This time, Maggie was put on the same antibiotic but for a longer treatment.  By yesterday afternoon, I knew the medicine wasn't working - she had shown no signs of improvement and in fact, had gotten worse.  Maggie is normally a feisty goat and is mean to the other "lesser" goats in the herd and often makes me mad.  She had become so lethargic that I was wishing and hoping we'd see signs of the old Maggie.  Since the antibiotic wasn't working, I didn't bother to give her any yesterday.  I had even accepted the fact that she probably wouldn't make it through the night.  


First thing this morning, Bill and I headed to the barn to check on Maggie, expecting the worse.  Bill even told me not to look in the stall, that he'd check.  Of course, Maggie is my goat and I had to check on her as well, no matter how we found her.  To our surprise, she was still alive, although didn't seem any better.  As soon as I was able, I phoned the vet and asked about a stronger or different course of treatment.  Within the hour, I was back home with two antibiotics, some yogurt, and a little more information on treating her.  (The yogurt is for probiotics which a goat needs to properly digest food in their rumen.)


So, we've begun this new course of treatment.  I'm being hopeful but realistic.  Goats are tough animals but when they get sick, they really get sick.  Part of it is that they are prey animals and cannot show any weakness  for fear of attack by predators.  Once an owner notices a goat is sick, it's an uphill battle - one that I lost recently with my goat Marla.  This time, though, I thought I caught it in time.  Hopefully, Maggie will hang in there long enough for the new course of antibiotics to do their job.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quote for the Day

"Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Spring!





Spring began today with a beautiful, warm, sunshine-filled day!  Flowers are blooming and trees are budding - yay!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Zen Thoughts

Yesterday's post got me thinking about something I read years ago.  It was in a book about Zen Buddhism but I cannot recall which one.  The author tried to explain a Zen concept by describing a drinking glass.  He said initially the glass is pristine - brand new, out of the box, unclouded, no scratches or cracks.  Then, imagine the glass broken.  


We should look at everything in this world in those terms - broken - because nothing remains perfect and pristine.  However, in our society, we're trained to think everything should be perfect, without blemish, and when something becomes damaged, we're to replace it.  Over the years I've tried to think in terms of *broken.*  When I do this I am neither disappointed when something is marred (such as a ding in my brand new car) nor do I feel the urge to run out and replace it.  It just is.  Of course, I'm human and sometimes find myself giving in to those marketeers who convince me that the way of the universe is perfection.  But I try to resist those messages and just imagine the glass broken...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How Perfect Is Your House?

This past winter, due the weather and farm issues, I've spent a lot of time at home - I mean a lot.  I've been looking around at the things that own me I own and I see how imperfect they are.  My scatter rugs have the backing coming off;  my bedspread and two of my area rugs have loose threads from the cat using her claws; my walls have various scuff marks on them; my daughter's bedspread has miscellaneous cosmetic stains on it; my car has stains on the floor mats.  So many people I know have seemingly perfect homes, the kind you see in magazines.  Before we moved to rural Virginia, we lived in an extremely affluent area.  People had their houses "done" and redone on a regular basis.  One friend of mine, who is not affluent and has a very  large family, doesn't allow her daughters to sit on their bedspreads because they might ruin them and she can't afford to replace them.  My attitude about my home and possessions has always been they are meant to be used.  The problem is use shows wear and wear isn't acceptable in our society.


And this is  what I don't get - how can people afford to fix or replace everything that shows the slightest signs of wear?  I remember when the shabby chic style was all the rage.  It was funny because it was okay if something was made to look threadbare, it was another if it actually WAS threadbare.  And don't even get me started on the environmental impact of constantly replacing things that aren't quite perfect anymore.  When I was growing up, we didn't have a lot of money.  My father had a regular income but my mother stayed home so we didn't have many luxuries and we had to make what we had last.  Many of our linens were the same ones we had my entire childhood; furniture rarely got replaced and had to be in pretty poor shape to qualify for replacement.


So I'm curious, how perfect is your house?  What makes you decide to replace things?  And when you do, do you consider both the economic and environmental impact?



Photo from http://img4.coastalliving.com/i/2008/04/shabbychic-kitchen-l.jpg

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Interfaith Women's Group

I am so lucky to be a part of an interfaith women's group.  I am especially lucky this group exists because people of other faiths are often viewed with suspicion in my neck of the woods.  We are a group of women - Jews, Catholics, and Protestants (of different denominations) - who come together at least once a month for what we call bible study.  In the past, we've studied parts of the Old Testament.  This year, we're reading and discussing a book called The Faith Club.  The authors are a Jew, a Muslim, and a Christian who came together after 9/11 with the goal of trying to understand one another's faith.  


Our last group meeting we had a guest speaker - a lovely lady who happens to be a Muslim.  Even as someone who knows quite a bit about the history and practice of Islam, I found the talk fascinating and informative.  She gave us a historical overview and then explained the differences and similarities of our faiths.  She also answered questions about many of the misconceptions held by many Americans.  After our speaker had left and our group was having lunch, I commented how I wish more people could have been there as it was a very valuable learning experience.  Over the years I have heard so many comments about Islam that I knew in my heart to be false.  However, often I don't feel that I know enough specifics in order to set the record straight.  Now I feel I'm better equipped to share what I know about Islam.  Of course, I'm also learning more about Judaism and even the beliefs of other Christians.  I'm glad to be a part of this group, to be able to learn what and why other beliefs are held.  Nothing gets my dander up more than someone demonizing the faith of another.


Our interfaith group does more than bible study.  We also get together to do service projects in our community.  Several local charitable organizations are underfunded and short staffed, especially during this rough economic time.  So we often get calls to help out for one day events and for long term projects.  Charity is a basic tenant of both Judaism and Christianity, so we ladies find this common ground.  As it is also essential to Islam, I'm hoping that some day some Muslim women will join us.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Things

Lately I've been thinking a lot about "things."  You know the things that own us, I mean we own.  But really it seems as if the very things that are supposed to bring us happiness and comfort often cause us pain and discomfort.  Many years ago I had a friend comment that she started examining the various manuals for automobiles, appliances, and electronics and also reading articles about how to care for our bodies and our health.  She concluded that if we did all the suggested maintenance on ourselves and our possessions, we wouldn't have time for anything else.  However, if we don't follow the guidelines for either our things or our bodies, they wear out quickly and die.  Of course, we must care for our bodies because the death of our bodies means the end of us.  But what about all of our possessions?  We're supposed to change the oil, replace the belts, clean out or replace the filters, sand and paint the rusty spots, scrub and clean, ad nauseum.  By keeping up with all the maintenance, we become slaves to our things; ignoring it all means costly replacements.  


Lately, I've been wondering about a third way - finding a way back to the basics, to really look at what is essential to our lives and eliminate the superfluous.  It's just so darned hard in these modern times to determine what is and isn't essential.  For Lent I gave up unnecessary spending and it has been somewhat liberating to me.  It has helped simplify my life.  I make fewer trips into town, spend less time on the internet, and have fewer decisions to make.  If it's not needed, then I don't do it or buy it.  


So now, about halfway through Lent, I'm starting to look to the future, to think about how I'll behave after "Not a Cent for Lent" is over.  I've decided I want to have a wardrobe of simple, basic clothes that I love and that doesn't require a lot of maintenance.  I don't have a huge wardrobe now but I want to make sure future purchases make sense for me and my lifestyle.  I've been extremely busy around the farm lately and have taken to wearing just jeans and long-sleeve t-shirts and sweaters.  I find that if I don't get into the muck and mud with the animals, I can wear my jeans two or three times without washing them.  In fact, if I only wear my jeans outside and change into yoga pants when I'm in the house, they can last longer between washings.  After all, this is what our grandparents and great grandparents did.  They didn't have the luxury of tossing clothes in the washer and dryer after each wearing.  And also, the more we wash clothes, the more wear and tear on both the clothes and the appliances.


I've also started using our library a lot more this month.  It doesn't make much sense for me to purchase books I'll read once.  Despite it's small size, our county library has a great selection so I'll never run our of books to read.  Especially when it comes to fiction, I don't think I'll be buying a lot of books in the near future.  


Even when it comes to "necessities," I've found myself using up what I have or making do.  This has saved me time, money, and precious resources.  I've been using what I have in the pantry and in my linen closet.   I squeeze every last drop out of various tubes and jars.  It's amazing what you can get out of a product when you think it's empty.  Turning a bottle upside down or cutting open a tube often gives me another week's worth of use.  Substituting ingredients when I don't have exactly what the recipe calls for has also helped.  I have a lot less to recycle which means fewer trips to the recycling center and a much greener life.


This Lenten season has turned the spotlight on how I live.  I don't like the idea of my things owning or controlling me.  And I don't like the idea that so much of my time on earth is focused on acquiring and caring for "things."  So, as Thoreau said, I want to "Simplify, simplify, simplify!"

The Michael Gungor Band "White Man"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Goal in Sight

My postings have been slim lately as I've been busy working on my research paper for graduate school.  Except for this paper, I've submitted all my assignments.  Going back to school has been a bit different for me this time around.  I've had to learn an entire new citation system which has been an interesting experience.  Several times there has been a conflict between what the APA manual says (the most recent edition) and what my professor considers correct.  A frustrating experience at times for someone who cares about grades.  Also, with modern technology, students now have to submit papers to a program called "Turnitin," which checks papers for plagiarism.  This morning I had a moment of panic when I submitted my paper for checking and it came back "8% originality." What I thought meant only 8% of my paper was considered my work actually means 8% is identical to what is in the database.  So, actually a good outcome since I have a number of direct quotations in the paper.  I'm putting the finishing touches on the paper which is due on Friday.  I'm really looking forward to my spring break and hope to be doing more writing on my blog during my brief time off from school.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Quote for the Day

"There ought to be a term that would designate those who actually follow the teachings of Jesus, since the word 'Christian' has been largely divorced from those teachings, and so polluted by fundamentalists that it has come to connote their polar opposite: intolerance, vindictive hatred, and bigotry."

~Philip Stater, Huffington Post

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Earth Hour


Some of my readers may recall that I observed (and encouraged them to observe) Earth Hour last year.  Earth Hour began in 2007 as a way to bring awareness to global climate change.  This year Earth Hour is on Saturday, March 27, at 8:30 (your local time).

From the website:  "In 2009 hundreds of millions of people around the world showed their support by turning off their lights for one hour.  Earth Hour 2010 will continue to be a global call to action to every individual, every business and every community. A call to stand up, to show leadership and be responsible for our future."

Go to www.earthhour.org to sign up to support this initiative and to get ideas on how to celebrate this important hour.


Friday, March 5, 2010

It's a small, small world

The Disney song was right.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Big America

This article in Orion Magazine, The Curse of Bigness by Christopher Ketcham, tackles the American belief that bigger is better.  The author lays out the case that bigger not only isn't better, it is costly, unimaginative, and ultimately kills. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Again?

We've received snow every single month this winter.  I'm really looking forward to Spring - 17 more days!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Lord's Prayer v. God Bless America

Shane Claiborne, author of Jesus for President, wrote this piece for Sojourners Magazine after a young man in his neighborhood was senselessly killed.  In an attempt to curb the violence in the neighborhood, a local gun shop was asked to sign a voluntary Code of Conduct that would ensure responsible sales of firearms in a crime-ridden area.  As Shane Claiborne's group prayed the Lord's Prayer, the gun-toting outsiders sang God Bless America. Claiborne opines that a "deep theological cage match was happening in the heavens."  In the end, Claiborne believes Love Wins.