Friday, July 27, 2012

I'm casting on a scarf today.

Good morning everyone,

I've probably mentioned before that I follow the Yarn Harlot blog by knitter and writer Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  Stephanie is one cool woman, always expanding what she does.  Over the last months she has been training for a REALLY  long-distance bike rally, which is a fundraiser for the Friends for Life Bike Rally in support of the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation.  ( )

In her most recent post she tells how stunned she was at the pledge response from her knitter readers.  One of Stephanie's friends makes the incredible, important statement: "It's all kindness Steph.  It's all kindness.  ...  It's more kindness in the world, and ... Can't the world use all the nice it can get? "

And then Stephanie goes on to make a statement about knitting and the importance of small actions.

"I've been telling people for years that knitting changes your brain. Changes the way you think and teaches important lessons, and that one of them is the idea of cumulative action.  Cumulative action is the idea that small actions aren't unimportant if they are combined with other small actions. It's a lesson that not everyone learns.  Some people go their whole lives thinking that unless you can do something big, there's no point in doing anything at all... and they have trouble seeing how one small action in their life could ripple and matter.  They can't see the possibility, and so the don't do what they could.  The problems seem too large for a small action to change anything.

"Here's the thing though, there are no knitters like that.  None.  Knitting teaches you that one small action does matter. That one small action, like knitting a stitch, isn't unimportant. It's vital.  One small action repeated many times is a sweater. Or a shawl. Or a pair of socks to hold the feet of someone you love, and that idea? The concept of cumulative action? It makes knitters the most remarkable fundraisers of all.  Other groups, they have to rely on the part of their community that understands that... knitters? Our whole group gets it.  Our whole group sees that one small thing - put together with many other things can create something enormous, and wonderful, and magical."

THANK YOU STEPHANIE PEARL-McPHEE for reminding me today of this.  I don't have to knit a sweater. I can cast on a scarf.  If I knit a little bit every time I get frustrated with the advocacy stuff I do, I'll probably have several scarves to donate to a local charity by the time scarf season rolls around.

Best regards to all of you!

Why's Woman

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Vandana Shiva interviewed by Bill Moyer

Hello everyone,

I hope you are well as we go into tomorrow's hot weather (predicted for London, Ont. here: 34 celcius).

I was just on the USC Canada website, and it referred to an interview Vandana Shiva gave to Bill Moyer:

You'll likely want to read the entire interview, but I just wanted to post her initial answer to his question of what keeps her going (knowing the big task she faces is being in opposition to genetically modified, patented seed).  She said:

"... We have the Bhagavad Gita ... there's a very simple lesson that Krishna gives. That you do not measure the fruit of your action. You have to measure your obligation of action. You have to find out what's the right thing to do. That is your duty. Whether you win or lose is not the issue. The obligation to do the right thing, for me, you know, I've grown up as an ecologist in a major level, from my very childhood.

"And for me, the diversity of species, their intrinsic value, their integrity is vital. The rights of our farmers to be able to have seed, the most fundamental source of livelihood in a poor country. Eighty percent of the food of the world is even, today, produced by those small farmers of the kind that we have in India. Our small farmers are feeding 1.2 billion Indians. We forget the scale of what smallness means multiplied many times. Because we've got used to the dinosaur mentality. We only see the big. We forget that dinosaurs go extinct."

Quick post ... just wanted to share her idea of finding the right thing to do.

Very best regards, as always!

Wise Woman 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Thinking even more about water

Hello everyone,

I hope you are faring o.k. in this heat and drought.

I've been thinking even more about water ... most lately about water run-off during a rainfall. 

Yesterday, here in London, we had two rains.  Environment Canada lists yesterday's rainfall as about 4 mm, which is very little.  I had only one empty container in the garden.  There wasn't one full centimeter (10 mm) (2/5inch).  So, that water didn't go down too far in the garden beds. 

I've been watering with the hose - we're long out of any rainwater.  I'm past the point of worrying about whether there's chlorine in City water.  Just grateful that London gets its water from Lake Huron and it's available.  To anyone who says water and sewer rates are costly ... well, that's what the health of my garden costs me.

Anyway ... back to water run-off. 

Yesterday as it rained I watched water running down the sidewalks and roads, all to end up in the sewer and eventually into the Thames River to head downstream.  There is no system for catching any of that water that hits hard surfaces.  And I know that will be slow to change (especially in London).

However, the thing that really makes me nuts is that almost all plantings around plazas and businesses are "built" so that plants are planted at the top of a hill and then all the water that comes along runs down a slope and off and away via the nearest sidewalk or road or parking lot.  The one parking lot I went by this morning had the standard green strip around it, elevated into a "berm" (so the cars don't escape except through the entryway, I guess). The cars' noses touched the cement low edge of the berm.  Their front tires were in several inches of water because water from the asphalt lot wasn't draining toward the grates and the slope on the berm was such that any rain rolled right off.  The dry hardness of the soil is such that it would take an hour of gentle rain for water to be absorbed to an extent for more to be taken in to the soil. 

I'm not saying that well, but think of a sponge.  If you have a year old totally dry sponge in the bathroom cupboard and run some water over it quickly, moisture isn't taken up; its pores are too small.  You have to soak the sponge for a while to have it expand and take in water.

Even without catching water from pavement, if green spaces were sloped upward at the edges so water was contained, or if sloped areas were terraced or 'swaled' in even gentle ways so that there were water catchments ... well, there'd be a lot more water available for the poor plants.

I've absolutely gotta find out whether the City has any way of telling builders/developers that they've got to get more water smart about their green spaces, and increase their green spaces.

Best regards to all. Join in being grateful for the water we have!

Why's Woman

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Glad she's not here to know about Global Warming

Good morning,

I hope you are all well.

My Mother, Grace Georgina Casson Temme, died on July 8, 1999.  She had turned 80 on June 30. 

She always hated hot weather.  She was never a sunbather when she was a young and curvy 20 year old in 1939; we have a photo and her towel is in the shade of a tree.  Our old house was a solid 1904 structure, built with thick walls.  When we had a heat wave (which used to be cooler than the heat waves of today!) she'd take a book down to the basement where it was cool.

She was a news follower, and she loved the nature specials, loved shows about animals. She wrote a note about the day's weather every day on the calendar.  I wish like crazy that I had kept the last year or two of her calendars.

When the weather is really hot like it's been the last week, I'm so grateful that she died quickly from a stroke.  1999 was before the news got out to general media about global warming, climate change and all the scenarios of climate refugees, animal habitat destruction, honeybee decline, agricultural depletion that go along with climate change.

Had Mum gone on, she'd have worried herself to death.  She was always a worrier ... and I realize I have to change the word worry to "care".  My mother was someone who cared about what she saw around her.  She was also a cynic in regards to the motivations of politicians and big companies.  She even sometimes wrote letters about things she didn't like, to companies with faulty products, or to a government minister when something really dumb was in the news.

I'm glad Mum didn't have to care herself to death because of the damage we've done to the environment.  And I really thank her for the genes of caring and cynicism.

Don't believe the people who - for reasons of corporate/political payoff (or fear and denial to be kinder, which is still a problem) - tell you that there's no such thing as global warming or climate change. We will be having more weather anomalies and hot weather days in future.

Believe that overly hot weather harms people, particularly people with pre-existing health problems.  Heat is a stressor on all aspects of our bodies.

Get involved with something to save the world in your own spare time.

Oh, and here are the temperature highs leading up to the date Grace Georgina Casson Temme died.  Obviously, she toughed it out through the hottest weather and so was able to go out thumbing her nose at the temperatures:

June 30, 1999   20.4 degrees centigrade
July 1                25.3
July 2                27.5
July 3                29.6
July 4                32.8
July 5                32.7
July 6                28.1
July 7,               27.6
July 8, 1999      22.9

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hot weather and rain

Hello everyone,

I hope you are well and taking it easy in the heat.

I've been taking naps.  Giving in to the only thing my body seems to want to do.

Rainfall amount can vary from district to district here in London Ontario. At our place we seem to have had 1.5 cm of rain ... that's according to a couple of empty containers scattered around the gardens.  It came down in two main rainfalls, one on Tuesday, and another on Wednesday.  They were hard rainfalls, the rain coming down fast and heavy.  Somewhat, but not as severe as some of the rainfall we've been seeing on the news.

I am so grateful for the rain.  I've been feeling pretty desperate about the heat, and about whether I'm doing an adequate job of watering the seedlings of swiss chard, squash and beets (which need steady water down far enough in the soil to encourage development of their beet roots), and of watering the more established things like cucumbers.

The cucumbers have increased in size by a full third in the last two days, from a 30 to a 45 cm length with more leaves.  I've got to train them to the fence now they are this size.

The plants know the difference between rainfall and hose water that has sat for a day to let "the chlorine evaporate off" ... at least, this evaporation is the thing I was told years ago.

Even a full roof-rainwater capture system wouldn't supply enough water for the gardens' needs around here.  I'd read a comment a few weeks ago; the person said that everyone should be able to capture their own water and that this should be all the person may have.  I cannot agree with that.  The way I figure it, I'm paying for the City water, using it as efficiently as I can (with mulch and interplanting), and by using it to produce food I'm not causing the use of food processing water and fossil fuel to bring in food from 500 - 1500 kilometers away. 

Surely that has to be taken into the resource use equation? 

Nothing is black and white, or simple as we learn how to garden for global warming.

For today, HOORAY for some rain.

Best regards to all,

Why's Woman