Saturday, 24 November 2007


When I am not overcome with apocalyptic angst, I'm often trying out new things to cook or bake, using ingredients that will grow in my Alberta climate. Today I tried a recipe for 'apple chips.' I had a whole bunch of apples that we were given by family living on Vancouver Island when we visited there last month, and a lot of the apples were going soft. I didn't want to waste them, and I wanted to try something other than applesauce to use them up. So I looked into drying them, and found a recipe to make apple chips. This recipe used the heat of the oven to crisp the apple slices into chips, but it could also be done in a solar oven or just by leaving the apples out in the open air.

I sliced the apples horizontally, and then placed the slices on cookie sheets that had been covered in parchment paper and dusted with icing sugar. Half of the slices I dusted further with a cinnamon/sugar mix and half I left plain. After about 2 1/2 hours at 225 degrees F, the apple slices looked delicious! They weren't quite crisp yet, probably because I cut some of the slices a bit too thickly. A 1/8th inch slice seems to work just right. So I'm letting the thicker ones air dry, and they'll be just fine.

Apple chips: I bet I can't eat just one!

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Near-constant companions: Irony and Anxiety

Since I've been on this journey of seeing myself as part of the oneness of all things, I've had the experience more often of being either struck by the ridiculous irony of something, or of being overcome with anxiety, or both. I had two recent examples of this that I thought I'd share.

1) Back in the summer I had posted about the central square in my city and how the powers that be had redesigned it so it now had more concrete and fewer trees. One day I noticed people writing on the concrete in chalk, commenting on the lack of trees and remembering when the City Square was full of grass and trees. I added my two cents worth on the concrete that day and felt a bit hopeful.

Now it's winter, with Christmas time approaching. While walking through the City Square earlier this week, what do I see but a tree there. A huge evergreen tree. You guessed it: a Christmas tree. A 50+ foot tree that had been cut down and brought into the otherwise concrete-laden Square, and decorated with lights, and sponsored by EPCOR even. (After all, what's a tree without an official sponsor?)

So, not only have the numerous CO2-absorbing, O2-producing trees that were in the Square originally cut down, but this tree was cut down too, and brought back to the denuded location as a supposed symbol of the Seasonal sentiments of Love, Hope, Renewal and Goodwill. Ironic, yes?

2) Also earlier this week, I was at the hairdresser's having my increasingly numerous grey hairs dealt with once again. On my way out I bought some 'product' (a habit which I will have to ditch one of these days, but don't have the guts to do it just yet). The hairdresser remembered that I didn't want a plastic bag with my purchase, and I didn't want a paper appointment reminder card either. I thanked her and said it was nice that she remembered those things. She replied that it wasn't that hard since, "You're the only person I know who's going green." I made some feeble attempt to smile and say that I would just have to keep talking about it to more people. Meanwhile, my heart sank and my anxiety level escalated.

I worry. I worry that people look at the cut-down Christmas tree and don't see the irony, and I worry that people just think that 'going green' is a fad or an affectation or an eccentricity.

Remember that "doomsday clock" from the mid-1980's that represented how close humanity was to global thermonuclear war and utter annihilation? That 'clock' has recently been expanded to include the effects of climate change on humanity. That's right: climate change is now seen as having just as catastrophic an effect on the planet as would global thermonuclear war.

It's time to see the irony. It's time to wake up and feel the anxiety and do something about it. Because we're at 5 minutes to midnight again.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Pushing on Political Icebergs

Greenpa at the Little Blog in the Big Woods talks about the concept of pushing on icebergs. It can seem futile for an individual person to keep pushing on such a big object and expect it to actually move in a different direction. But with enough individual people pushing for a long enough time, even a behemoth can be moved. When I saw the CTV news late last week showing the results of the latest Canadian political poll, it felt like a shift could really be happening!

For the first time ever, the Green Party polled as the third most popular political party in all of Canada. In the Western provinces, 18% of people said they would vote Green if an election were held on the day of the poll! That's almost one in five people -- I guess me and my little denim Green Party bag don't have to feel so lonely anymore! You can seen the complete poll results here.

Also, I have already pestered friends and family members about this, but I'll say it again here. If you live in Canada and feel that the leader of the national Green Party, Elizabeth May, should be included in the televised debates the next time there is a federal election, please sign this petition. The leaders of the other four parties are always invited to participate, and one of these parties (the Bloc Quebecois) doesn't even run a national slate of candidates. Oh, and if you are the least bit curious, why not check out some of the Green Party's positions on important issues like climate change, building a green economy, health care, a fair tax structure, the democratic process and even beauty and integrity.

The Green Party is the only party I know of that bases its policies on the six principles of ecological wisdom, non-violence, social justice, sustainability, participatory democracy and respect for diversity. Those are the kinds of things that motivate me to keep on pushing on my little part of that metaphorical iceberg. I would surely like to see that iceberg move before the real icebergs all melt.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

No Purchase Necessary: Buy Nothing Day(s) 2007

Since 1992, Adbusters magazine has been promoting an annual "Buy Nothing Day." It is traditionally held on the day after American Thanksgiving, which is apparently the most shopping-intensive day of the year. This year, the fast from consumerism is marked on Friday, November 23rd in the USA and Canada, and on Saturday, November 24th internationally. There are activities in various cities worldwide where activists do things like walk zombie-like through malls, publicly offer to cut up your credit cards, or line up together to form convoys of people pushing shopping carts with nothing in them. But the main activity is the not-buying of things.

I'm going to take the plunge and not buy anything on either day. Care to join me?

Imagine a day (or two) where you've decided beforehand that you're just not going to buy anything. No coffee beverage, no newspaper, no dinner and/or a movie, no gas at the gas station, no pop or chips. No impulse purchases of new shoes, mascara, CDs/DVDs, or that other cool doo-dad on sale 'today only.' Just a day (or two) of using what you already have. No need to even pay attention to advertisements on TV or the radio or the internet, because you've already decided that you have enough of this, that or the other thing. A time where we reclaim our identity as people, instead of just consumers. Where we remember that we are human beings who love and care for each other, not just handy marketing targets. Where we re-assert that the economy serves the people, the people don't serve the economy.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Challenge Withdrawal

Well, you may have noticed that the Freeze Yer Buns challenge banner has been removed from the right side bar. I've decided to withdraw from the challenge for the time being. The reason for this is because one of our guinea pigs, Corky, died last week just a couple of days after starting the challenge. I am not certain if it was the lower temperature that brought on the upper respiratory infection that she died from, but I didn't want to take the chance that it was and possibly jeopardize our other guinea pig's health. So it's time for some serious reassessment on that front. We may turn our attention to other ways of conserving energy. And we definitely need to really think about how our actions and decisions influence the lives of those in our care.

Rest in peace little Corky pig.