Monday, June 28, 2010

No apologies for plants

A few days ago some neighbourhood children asked if they could pick flowers from the plants that grow down by the road at my place. That was fine with me - I rather liked that they thought of the mostly groundcover plants as flowers. And it was funny that they asked while showing me the blooms already harvested into a small, green satin sac.

I took them 'round and showed them what to pick(or get scissors to cut) and what to watch out for.

We do have a rue plant out there. It has blue-green foliage that I love the scent of, but its stems exude a sap that, on the skin in sunlight, can cause painful blisters if you are sensitive to it. I am, but I keep the rue plants throughout the gardens because they are host to swallowtail butterfly eggs and larvae. I think I'll have to move the plant from the roadside, if children are going to be picking nearby. It had been planted there before I knew about the sap.

I showed them the oregano, which flowers white and is unusual for that. Lots of thyme, just coming into flower. Gorlden marguerites. And the soapwort is just about to bloom.

One little guy was a treat. When I pointed out the milkweed, he almost shouted. 'Hey! we learned about that in school!" So we talked about monarch butterflies.

All the children were attracted to the feverfew. Quite a few plants are in a sort of hedge and all are in bloom. I'm used to their sharp smell and like it, but when we went over I started to say to them that even though they had pretty white and yellow flowers they might seem sort of "stinky". And the little guy marched over, shoved his face into the mass of flowers and popped back up to say: "They aren't stinky, they smell fresh!"

Well, that'll teach me. I will never apologize for a plant. It is what it is. Never mind that a guidebook or provincial list says something is a weed (the milkweed - asclepias syriaca - will have clusters of pink flowers with a rich scent). Never mind that the cheerful feverfew blooms don't have a pretty scent; it is, afterall, a medicinal herb with leaves that are used to prevent headaches.

And anyway, the feverfew smells "fresh".

And I will never apologize again for a plant.

Best regards to all.

Why's woman

Friday, June 25, 2010

Oxfam action at the G8 effective visual

I just spotted some photos on the London Free Press website, and I'm not sure how long they'll be up:

Oxfam Canada volunteers took their message about the need for better maternal health care, and commitment by governments to promises they've already made, to the G8.

Skin-tone body suits covering pregnant bellies, accurately made oversize masks of the G8 leaders - right down to our P.M.'s pale eyes - a brilliant and peaceful action. These photos will go around the world.

The Oxfam Canada website is ... a simple url to remember ... go take a look at its programs. Decide if there's a way you can contribute.

Thanks Oxfam, for innovation, activism, non-violence and humour.

Why's Woman

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

catching up

Tuesday, June 22/10

The leg is continuing to get better. I rode my bike for the first time on Sunday.

Sarah Elton, author of the excellent book Locavore, spoke at the London Central Library. Ninety (90! +) people came to hear her. It was a terrific turn out. She spoke for 30 minutes and then turned things over to the audience ... to ask questions and for them to give each other answers and comments as much as for her to do so as 'expert'. I loved this encouragement to the group. After the talk, Sarah came along to Garlic's restaurant with some people involved in local food production. Garlic's itself tries to use as much locally produced food as it can. I know it supports the City Farm project, which has several acres out by Fanshawe Pioneer Village. Two people who joined us are members of the National Farmers' Union, local branches. The NFU is a wonderful advocate for farmers and for local.

On June 17, Transition London Ontario had about 25 people turn out - again at our ever-helpful Central Library - to watch the film Farm for the Future. This is the film Rebecca Hosking made about her explorations on how to make her own family farm more sustainable. If you have a chance to see this anywhere, do. There's enough images of 'conventional' agriculture to get ideas going, but the focus is on how much fossil fuel is used in agriculture and some of the ways this can be reduced from changes to fodder grasses, permaculture, and going small. Rebecca found out for herself what many big institutions are now saying: small is the way of the future. Oh! Just put Farm for the Future in an internet search engine and you'll find excerpts or the entire thing on line. It's worth watching even on a tiny screen. Please, watch it. You'll like this film.

And, I'll add, more people are going to have to become involved in food production. This involvement will be in our backyard and frontyard urban gardens. And there will be more mixed farming happen in what are called 'peri-urban' areas, those green belts around cities that too many places (like London!) seem to value more for their potential as housing developments and mall parking areas than for food production. I absolutely believe we will be using those spaces. Less food will have to be transported long distances. Farming will again become a respected job, instead of something dictated to farm managers by corporate agribusiness.

Hmmm, I can tell by the tone of that last bit I'm getting cranky again. On-line time is over. I have to walk around and do some exercises.

Best regards to all,

Why's Woman

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

blogging stops when you can't sit down

Wednesday, June 9. It's been longer than usual between postings. I slipped and fell 9 days ago, pulling a hamstring muscle enough to have massive bruising which has now shifted down my leg as far as my ankle and is trying to wrap my knee. I know the damage could have been far worse and that I'm pretty lucky, but it's ugly.

I've been more than cranky, mostly unable to sit down (which sure makes me prioritize what I have to do at the computer), and missing a lot of sleep. Why is it that throbbing happens at 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.?

I adore my husband. He's helped me clamber over the tub edge into the shower, put my socks and shoes on, retied laces when he tied them too tight, and puts arnica cream on my leg three times a day. I don't know why arnica cream works to speed healing of bruises by speeding their reabsorption, but it does. I've been calling it magic cream.

Arnica montana is the proper name of the herb in the cream I bought. The seeds are available through Richter's herbs ( and I've decided to send another order in this year so I can get some started in the garden. Arnica montana is a perennial in zones 6-9 and I think I've got a microclimate up by the house where it'll grow. This experience is going to be my inspiration to make my first herbal cream (next year, anyway). For now, I'm thankful to the company that made the stuff I have.

Thankful to my husband, and .... hey, I just realized I've been sitting for a whole fifteen minutes ... sort of slumped with no pressure on my leg, but sitting.

Best regards to all and hoping you have no accidents!

Why's woman