Pollyanna on the environment: part 4 – why hope?

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This is mostly a picspam of what I think of when I think about what we as humans can experience and allow future generations to experience by taking better care of “the environment.”  I wrote a post a few months ago linking to a website with a really brilliant series on the potential our indoor environments can hold and I just felt like doing a random inspirational post about the wilderness that is still here for us to enjoy.

There are so many awesome and beautiful places on this planet and so many places that can be restored or made even better.

Did you notice the obvious human influence and management in several of the photos? We humans do not automatically spoil nature by our presence. We are not some inevitably corrosive and damaging blight on the beauty of this world.

There ARE many areas we have messed up, and Chernobyl is one of them. This is an interesting documentary I watched some time ago – it seems to be a bit staged in parts, but overall it is a fascinating look at what happens when we abandon an area and how resilient and quick nature is to rebuild.

youtube.com/watch?v=ud33w26qsWQ

Especially notice the types of plastic and biodegradable items left behind.  Then watch how greenery is taking over and everything is becoming lush and more and more wild looking.

Please remember that we as humans do not have to despise ourselves. We can not only live in harmony with nature’s cycles, but we can improve and beautify what we touch, as well.
Y Girl

Pollyanna on the environment: Part 2

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I think I’ll start with imagining things closest to us, as per the zones in permaculture. We’re on zone 0 right now, the environments we spend most of our time in.

Let’s start with air…

As a kid I had plenty of time to read because of being homeschooled. I read a LOT, and some of that was books by Zane Grey. I remember how he rhapsodized constantly about the beauty of the deserts in Arizona and the Southwest and talked about drinking in the air as if it was wine. I like climates like Ireland, but those books did give me a sense of fascination and awe with the badlands of this country, the high and lonely places. And that comparison of air to wine! Isn’t it exaggeration to say that air could be so invigorating?

So many of us live in places that smell of exhaust and pavement and dusty, sad, bedraggled plants giving off pollen that makes us sneeze. We hear the stats about pollution and asthma and the o zone layer and see pictures of garbage dumps like this.

None of that is necessary, though.

What if we got off fossil fuels entirely? That is totally doable in my opinion. If we change our housing to be more people friendly (and gorgeous!), have good networks of mass transportation, farm sensibly using techniques that are good for the land and are already proven to work, and used alternatives to wood and coal for heat and cooking – then we CAN all breathe clean air. It may not always be like wine, but it would be good for us.

Oh, and sometimes I wonder just why I keep going up to Yosemite to hike. Part of it of course is that I have a list of hikes I want to get done before I move away, but part of the reason for driving to Yosemite to do the hikes is that the air does indeed smell like wine, especially at dawn. You can look at pictures of Yosemite and get a great deal of the experience that way, but the air. The aroma of pines!

And yes, I realize it is hypocritical to talk of air pollution and then DRIVE somewhere to get to clean air. Oh well.
We usually have decent air around my place, though in the winter most of the neighbors use fireplaces for heating, which really does a number on the air quality.

What if we all could wake up to snowy, crisp days in winter, with air that prickles and stings with fresh and natural scents? What if those of us in the tropics had humid, muggy air that simply smelled of trees and perhaps neighbors’ cooking? What if those of us living on the hot planes of Africa could do our cooking without using wood and instead we smelled the baking dirt, the gardens growing in the sun, spices? What if we could experience springtime in the country smelling earthy pastures and profuse flowers and wet pond plants?

I think good air is possible for us all. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but there is no reason why we cannot achieve it. Just imagine… we can all breathe air that is rich as wine.

Y Girl

Pollyanna on the environment: Part 1

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It can get pretty discouraging reading about how badly we humans have messed up this little planet in just the last 100 years. We’ve been modifying it for thousands of years, but for a long time it was more on a scale similar to termite mounds or bird nests – we built things like step wells in India, the pyramids in Egypt (and South America), Roman roads all over Europe, built things like the Hagia Sophia, and in general manipulated our environment in many ways.  But, we still had a not-overburdened planet. When one area got kind of messed up, we could move and find new resources. Read the tales of explorers coming to the New World just a few hundred years ago and you will find stories of such magnificent abundance of food and beauty as will make you ache for a time machine. Read stories of lobstermen and trappers and how MUCH there was out there of every type of food and raw materials. It’s just astounding. In California, where I live, there used to be far more streams and springs even in the middle of summer, where you could get a drink when traveling. Now there are very few springs and all but the biggest waterways dry up all summer long.

Of course, in the good old days people did do things like use lead in pottery glazes, try arsenic as pesticide for crops, and commit acts of war such as spreading salt to make land infertile. Even cosmetics were often contaminated, with no oversight at all of ingredients (not that the FDA seems to help much nowadays either), and containing various poisons. The good old days were pretty terrible in a lot of ways and human rights have certainly come a long ways since then (phew!). Medicines and technology have made life a lot easier and with less suffering for many.

But now, something has gone wrong and we seem to be fouling not just our personal nests but the entire world, in what may be permanent ways. Why bother reading dystopian novels or watching disaster movies when we already are dealing with that? It’s just not quite as dramatic and fast as an apocalyptic movie.

This is where I always get really depressed and then I rebound and start thinking about all the good things that are possible. It might be pretty Pollyanna-ish, but who cares? Sometimes that is fun. In this series I’m going to let my imagination run a bit wild and idealistic. Let’s imagine what could be possible, what IS still possible!

Y Girl

Silly frugal mistake!

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I have pretty fair skin. It used to be that even in winter if I spent more than 20 minutes outside I would start to burn.  Sunscreen was not much of a help, either. When I first started researching paleo/primal lifestyles I kept seeing things about being outside and sunbathing on purpose to get vitamin D. No way, I thought, I’ll just stick with my cod liver oil.

A few weeks in, I suddenly had this urge to try it. I have NEVER sunbathed on purpose before but all of a sudden it sounded fun. This seems to happen with quite a few things since I switched… After coming across a couple more articles, I decided to give it a try. It turns out I didn’t burn anymore and I finally figured out why people enjoy sunning so much. Since then I have continued to do it judiciously and regularly.

Over the summer, I had a couple weeks where my face got dry and instead of looking at how I was not really eating enough, I thought it would be fun to try making some of the many natural moisturizer recipes out there. They do work and make your skin feel baby soft, which is great. But then, over a period of several weeks I kept having trouble with slight sunburns on only my face even though I was spending very little time outdoors and was using protective makeup when I was out. It took a ridiculously long time to realize that my skin needs about two days completely indoors if I’m going to use an oil-based moisturizer. Why bother at all, in that case? I upped my fat intake again and the original and added problems both fixed themselves. Yay!

So yeah, I FINALLY figured it out. *rolling my eyes* Lesson learned, AGAIN:  Always work on the input before the coating!

Y Girl

Getting back in the saddle

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Hi all (I know two people will read this :D).

 

So, it was not my intention to drop the blog entirely for months! I am tempted to apologize, but it really was a case of Life Getting in the Way. I had no time to come up with any posts worth the posting, but there are some decent ones in the pipeline now and I hope you enjoy them.
One small factor in the severe lack of blog time has been hiking. This summer I really, really wanted to get a LOT of hiking in. There are a lot of places I’ve been wanting to explore around here, particularly Yosemite itself, that I’ve never had enough energy for before I went primal in my diet. My exercise partner and I basically went nuts and have been exploring more than we planned to and having a blast doing it. It is really fun to be able to go 5 or 6 miles and not even be sore the next day, nor have to pack more than a boiled egg or so to eat for energy, nor have trouble with the altitude.  The following photos are a small sampling from hikes I’ve been on since my last post here.

Yes, this was summer…  in Yosemite.

There are so many gorgeous scenery photos from this area all over the internet, so here are some of the smaller, more hidden things you will see on hikes around here. Not as stunning but pleasant to hike past.

And then, after passing through cool woods or gorgeous little meadows, you so frequently come across views like this.

So that is some of what I have been up to. I hope y’all have had a fun summer also! Regular posts will resume about the garden, the hens, and all my odd little experiments.

 

Y Girl

Kickin’ ur plastic: Part 3

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Hand soap – a guide for the squeamish and germ-phobic person.

For years and years I have heard about the dangers of Triclosan in liquid hand soaps and how it was contributing to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and how it was not even necessary for killing germs.  I also disliked having to go through so much plastic buying soap.  I used to try to find a way to make liquid hand soap, but I could never find a practical way.

BUT.  There are several aspects of using a bar of soap that were very off-putting to me.  The holder tends to get slimy and yucky looking quickly.  I dislike having a bar be used hundreds of times over several weeks until it disappears.  It just seems unsanitary to me, especially when hair or something gets stuck in it, and I cannot get over that feeling.  Plus, liquid soaps seemed to be much better at keeping my hands moisturized.  So, I kept using them.

Then I read several articles about the way Triclosan (and many other chemicals) mess up our thyroids.  I was trying to lose some weight and I know a LOT of people, women especially, who have hypothyroidism and it makes life so much more difficult in every way.  Did I switch?  Well, I tried harder to think of some way I could start using bar soap, but I just could not figure out a way I could tolerate it.  I told myself that it probably was not that big a deal anyway, I was just washing my hands with it and had a lot less pollutants in my life than most people.  I experimented with shampoo bars, though, and discovered several sources of really nice, natural soaps that felt luxurious to use.

Then I went Primal with my diet (and sleep, and exercise) and discovered how much of a huge difference tiny changes can make.  My body composition was changing drastically for the better with mostly lifestyle changes, very little exercise, and I had so much mental energy that I decided to revisit the old soap issue and find a solution this time.

It turned out that the solution for me was provokingly simple.

I cut up my soap bar into small pieces and put it on the top of an overturned glass jar.  It was reused from being a food container, so it did not even cost anything.

This works for me because the soap is used up in just days and as soon as it’s gone I can put the jar in the dishwasher and get it perfectly clean again.  Thus I always have a clean holder and nice looking soap.

Including shipping the soap cost me about $8.00 and I think it is going to last (used by two, in the kitchen) about two months, so only a dollar a week or so.  This is cheaper than the plastic refills, which is great.  I believe I was spending about two dollars a week on the liquid soap.

You can probably find someone selling  really cool soaps near you at a farmer’s market, or if you are not able to get to any then there are tons of great suppliers online.  You can always go with hand soap from the supermarket, but until you have tried a really great hand soap you have no idea what you are missing.  Actually, one reason I am happy about having made this change is now I get to try more varieties of soaps than I have been able to before!

Y Girl

Big picture, what should humans live in?

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Not quite sure of all the steps, but I started out looking at something about sustainable housing and ended up on a very interesting website about cities, towns, suburbia, and farms and historical versus modern designs.  What I thought was cool was how the most beautiful cities in the world really are the ones with narrow streets and a lot more walking people than cars. I remember reading Human Scale several times, the last time a couple years ago, and being really fascinated by so much of what I expected to be a really dry book.  I definitely recommend you find it in a library or something.  There is a lot of cool info like how far away we can recognize humans we know and how if a square or public space is bigger than that distance we feel small and disconnected.

Anyway, I have not thought much about the actual city life in Europe.  That is, I love reading books about Europe, talking to people who live there, and am very interested in history in general, but for some reason I had this idea that most of those picturesque, winding little streets were mostly shops now.  I did not realize how many of them are still homes.  It’s weird discovering these blind spots in oneself…  Anyway, the site as a whole appears to be mainly about stock markets and currencies and trading, but the articles on cities and suburbs are really well written and have lots of great photos.

Harry Potter and Traditional Cities

Of course, I am living in a not-quite-rural, not-quite-suburban, situation and am very car dependent, so my blog is mostly about making the most of that sort of circumstance, but I have always wanted to have about 60 acres of well watered land to care for.  I never ever could understand the desire to live in a city, but after viewing those articles I could actually imagine doing so pretty happily.  I still prefer country life, but this definitely was a fascinating and inspiring series of articles and makes me a fan of the traditional style of city.  We all know suburbs are going to have to disappear as oil gets more and more expensive, but here is something that looks like a much more delightful way of living.

Y Girl

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