Time to talk about Oil

4 06 2010

PLEASE NOTE:  I have edited this since my original post because it was pointed out to me, graciously, by some dear friends, that I did, actually fail in not becoming some sort of doomsdayer.  So, I have edited my post to be less sensational.  Thank you to friends grounded in a reality where doom doesn’t occur.

I’ve been avoiding it for a while.  And, yes, this is a short post.  There is so much I could talk about right now that I’m limiting my post so that I retain coherency and don’t become some sort of raving doomsdayer by the end of it.

Let’s talk about  The BP oil “spill”.

Wait. Spill?  Isn’t that what happens when you drop a cup of water on the floor?  To gain the scope of how far the oil has currently spread, let’s look at this little map.  Just type in your location at the top and see how big the oil spill is relation to your area.  So, now, let’s properly name this: Oil Eruption perhaps?  Perhaps Oil Disaster?

BP and the American government are doing their best to control outcry, renege responsibility and play down the event, that we are unsure as to the real numbers.

We do know some things though: we know that it is not, and will not be, easily contained.  We know that the oil geyser still not controlled.  We know that there is not just surface oil, but oil that is moving deep below the surface in plumes of oil.  We do not know the effects of this.

So, that’s the doom-and-gloom of it. And yes, I am scared.  I am horrified.  I am saddened and grieved.  I am angry.  I feel powerless.  And I know that it’s OK to feel these things, because allowing myself emotion gets me out of paralysis, out of panic and into amazing action.

I can find ways to use my personal skill set to deal with the problem and move towards something more Life affirming.

In relation to the oil eruption/disaster, specifically, there’s little that I can do.  I can pray.  I can encourage government and BP to find ways of containing it, and encourage them to stop the usage of dispersants (which aggravate the problem, not lessen it).  I can encourage my local salons to send the hair they cut to the clean up effort. I can encourage governments to not allow offshore drilling anymore, so we don’t encounter this again, once we’ve gotten through it.

But really, my personal skill set is not able to stop the oil spill.  My personal skill set can not stop the Gulf Stream from moving air and water around the globe.

My personal skill set lies more in creating self-sufficiency, away from oil dependent life.

I am learning how to grow my own food.  I engage with my community.  I have gotten rid of the car.  I buy less things.  I buy my food locally. These are things we all can do.

In the end, whether this is an extinction event or not, it is happening.  We can’t make it un-happen.  And it is unfolding as it is.  Let’s use it as an opportunity make a choice to value what is important: oil or Life? and move on from there.

In the coming days, I will be doing a series on transitioning away from oil dependency, and how that might look in everyday life.


always ask and other lessons from stinging nettle

17 05 2010

Today, little A and I went down to the river (to pray) to gather nettles.  We were excited to see how much they had grown in the last couple of weeks.

When we got to the nettle patch, I was surprised at the size of the nettles.  Two weeks ago, these little creatures were not more than 6 inches high.  Today, many of them were three times that.

Now, it is my humble opinion that if you are going to decapitate anything you should always ask, nettles being no exception.  Most plants are actually quite gracious that way, and freely offer their tasty leaves to eager hands and mouths. Nettles, especially, like to be asked.

So, walking into the nettle patch, giving thanks for their generosity in helping me build my body, I started to pick. And every time I asked consciously, the nettles didn’t sting me.  And every time I asked, didn’t listen to the answer and picked anyways (usually through distraction) I got stung.  Needless to say, nettles are a fantastic journey in mindfulness.

As an aside, I must say that before I entered the “forest” I gave an offering to it of sacred herbs.  Some place offerings at the specific sites, to specific plants.  Most of the time, I feel drawn towards offering to the larger area, as it is just as important as that one patch.

Picking stinging nettles with a two and half year old, super curious being is a very interesting game.  In one way, I certainly did not want little A to get stung.  I don’t enjoy it too much and I thought it might be an overwhelming sensation for her. On the other hand, this is how children learn and a nettle sting isn’t going to hurt her in the long term.  The former belief seemed stronger as my mother is visiting tomorrow and I could just hear her saying “and you let her pick nettles with you?!”  ;P

However, little A was more curious in the wild raspberry canes growing around the nettles than the nettles themselves, though she did touch a few just to prove to be that they didn’t want to sting her.  Thanks nettles for teaching me faith. 🙂

One of the patches that I go to is being overgrown by garlic mustard, which is a pretty invasive species, though quite delicious.  The nettles were telling me that they wanted a little space from the mustard so I went to pulling out some garlic mustard.  There was quite a lot of it there, as garlic mustard is a pretty efficient reproducer and grower, much like dandelions.  As I pulled I asked the garlic mustard to come out of the ground and leave some room for its friend nettle.  It was quite cooperative and after pulling about 50 plants, I got distracted and starting pulling without asking.  So, what happens?  I step, with my bare feet, on a nettle plant!

Now, this may seem inevitable to be stung on the feet when going bare foot in a nettle patch, but it’s never happened to me before.

I stopped pulling out garlic mustard and left the rest of the patch alone.  I felt a little embarrassed.  :blush

When we finished picking nettles from a couple other spots on the trail, we turned back towards the baby car (read: stroller) to head home.  The nettles were in a plastic bag and little A was very adamant about carrying them.  Once we got to the baby car she wanted to cuddle with them and “keep them safe on her lap”.

She discovered a hole in the bag and decided to pet the nettles that she loves so much.  Coming again to the place of indecision, I told little A that nettles could sting her so she might not want to touch them.  “No, mama,” she said, “nettles no sting me.” And she continued petting them inside the bag.  And she was right; she didn’t get stung.

Another lesson of nettles: children are very good at bending the laws of time and space.

As I’m pushing little A home she finishes cuddling the nettles and starts to “play a game with them”.  She’s kicking them and laughing and telling me that nettles are funny and playful and they like to play with her.  She says she’s made a new friend and they make her laugh.

Next lesson from nettles: everything is alive and interacting in glorious ways with us always.  Children are so wise and perceptive to pick up on it. As I age, I am glad to have little A and nettles to remind me of the magic in all things, especially the wild.

Tomorrow morning we will eat nettles for breakfast!  Delicious!  And I will hold inside of my body, to create my cells out of, all the lessons that I received today.


Packing, foraging and stitching

19 04 2010

Today, I started the Great Packing.  I reserved a van for May 3rd and told the landlady that we would be out by then.  The move, now, has officially begun.

I realized that I know why I was putting off this move, more than others before it.  While I was packing, a huge thing was on my mind: “Is this going to my house, or his house?  Do I need one of these?  Should we make a list of things that we don’t have duplicates of?” and, perhaps the hardest “How the heck am I going to do this whole financial independence thing?”

It’s much more pleasant to just ignore these things, and procrastinate on packing and just go outside and forage.  Which is what I ended up doing.  To my credit, it was a pre-planned adventure.

I gathered with three other women, who were all more knowledgeable about wild plants than I, and with little A, we walked down to a river path with a great nettle patch.

I learned so many plants today!  The first one we encountered, growing in someone’s lawn, was garlic mustard.

Garlic mustard has a nice spicy flavour and can be used in salads and in pesto.  It can also, apparently, be dried and used as an herb in cooking.  I find it quite delicious!  It is also an invasive species and takes over native plant habitat in North America.  We picked and ate a bunch, and little A really loved it. 🙂

Our “guide” also informed us of the process she goes through to honour the plants that are offering their leaves to us.  She recommended we give an offering (tobacco, cornmeal or reiki were her recommendations) to complete the energy exchange.  She also recommended, which I already do, that we ask the plant if it would like to give of itself.  I usually find that leafy food plants are pretty willing to part with their leaves, as that is what they are here to do: be primary producers!

We next came across stinging nettle, which was what I was really interested in learning how to harvest.  Little A and I drink nettle ta almost every morning and I was super excited to find out that we can harvest nettles locally!  YAY!

Stinging nettles are incredibly nutritious: high in vitamins C and K, and high in calcium and iron.  They also act as a cleanser and an alkalinizer in the body.  Nettles are best harvested for food in early spring.  They can also be dried for tea for later in the year.  In food, nettles can be used instead of spinach, as they have a similar taste.  Tonight, we put our nettles in a pasta dish and they were delicious!! Chris even ate them.  Little A liked eating the raw leaves, but you have to be pretty careful to get the stingers out.  I got stung quite a bit, and though it was painful at first, my body easily aclimatized to the stinging.  Apparently, the sting induces an immune system response and boosts the immune system.  Apparently the stings are also good at treating arthritis, though I don’t really know how that works…

We searched for wild leeks, but found none.  We also found motherwort, yellow dock and burdock.

And, I got to strengthen bonds with some of the most amazing women I know around these parts, which was a real blessing.

I feel so happy that little A is able to have these experiences of learning the plants, being with the Earth, sharing with wise women and growing up connected.

Finally, when I came home, I made dinner and worked on my stitching.  I started a new project, which is a mother-tree-birth-goddess.  I’m really excited because this is a piece that I created myself and am designing the stitches for myself!  WOOHOO!  It feels like real creativity.  I think this will either be a wall hanging or a journal cover.  It’s so much easier to stitch on regular fabric.  Velour is really hard to embroider on.  I would definitely not recommend it to anyone for their first project.

I was going to show you a fairly bad photo of the current stitching, but my computer is on the fritz.  So, you will all have to wait for a much better picture later this week. 🙂

Apple Blossoms, meditation cushions and the mothers of mothers

16 04 2010

In that order.

First, the apple blossoms are out!  What a wonderful smell that fills the earth when it is apple blossom season.  Two blocks from our house, on the walk downtown, there is a HUGE apple tree that has birthed a couple babies around it and it is springing with apple blossoms. 

I know that each blossom could yield a fruit, so I sparingly plucked one sprig for the glorious scent.  I couldn’t resist.  It is so sweet, so subtle, yet strong and slightly spicy in the right air.  Currently, it is hanging out on my table with some other deliciously scented freesia flowers.  I also picked one magnolia flower, which wilted promptly.  What a bouquet filling our house.

Now, I am not quite sure, but I think that the apple blossoms are early, as are the magnolias.  I wonder what this 25C weather is doing to the cycles of our ecosystem.  I try not to think of it, and instead, make meditation cushions.

Today, I put together the meditation cushion with the OM symbol and stuffed it.  I also went on an embroidering frenzy and finished little A’s cushion.  I am really happy with the results and with the learning process.  I used several new stitches (to me) like whipped back stitch, split stitch and whipped stem stitch.  I must say that I love whipped stitches, and the nice line and colouration that it gives.  That is what I used in the outlines of the leaves and the flower petals.

Here is little A with her new meditation cushion:

And here is a close up of the meditation cushion embroidery.  I left the pink flower unfilled because I thought it looked really good that way.  What do you think?

Another thing that has been on my mind is my mother.  She has, yet again, requested to be my friend on facebook.  She is not currently aware of this blog either.

I am generally not a secretive person, nor do I like to censor myself.  However, over the last 12 years or so of interacting with my mother, I’ve found it useful for our relationship to just omit certain aspects of my life that I know really upset her.

I really want to respect her wishes, but sometimes they just go against what I know to be best for me, or what my ideals are.  I really would love to have a completely open relationship with her where I can be the whole of myself, but that just ends up with us not being able to be around each other.  I don’t really want that.

I respect my mother, what she has done for me in raising me, that she cares about me and that she is a really wonderful, loving and creative person.  I just don’t want to unnecessarily worry her.

I often wonder why our spirits choose the parents they do.  Why did I choose my mother, if we’re going to have such tenuous relations?  I remember seeing a really powerful channel at the Total Health Show in Toronto, when I was pregnant.  She traveled the astral realms, channeled quite clearly and was consciously and sensorily experiencing many more layers of reality than most.  She said that before August 2006 we were in a place of opposites attracting each other, and that explained why a lot of people were being born to the families they were born into.

I’m not sure that this is exactly the case, because in some ways I am definitely my mother’s daughter.  However, in some ways, we are complete opposites.

I find my relationship with my mother to be one of the most interesting, frustrating, educational and strange relationships in my life.  I find it simultaneously supportive and open and incredibly stifling and judgmental.  I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Anyways, I think that I will keep my mother off my facebook account for now.  I think it will be best for both of us.  She might stumble upon this blog as well, and I’ll just have to deal with that when it comes to pass.  For now, for both of our sanity, we will keep our online lives separate.