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This is the power you have

August 12, 2011

This past Monday, I forgot about garbage day (again). When I heard the truck rumbling down the street, I ran into the kitchen, grabbed my garbage bag, and prepared to run down to the street in my bathrobe (again).

But I looked at the garbage bag. There was little over a fistful of garbage in it.

This is how much garbage I produced this week! I have been putting a lot of effort into reducing the amount of garbage I produce – but even so, I actually surprised myself!

Yes, it definitely takes extra time to not produce garbage. Just like it takes time to undertake other initiatives that are good for our environment, such as walking or riding a bike rather than driving. I am not saying that it doesn’t take time. It takes time.

But honestly, I am tired of hearing people tell me how busy their lives are, and how they just don’t have the time in their busy days to cook real food rather than heating up something from a package, or walk (or make their kids walk) instead of zipping around in their cars. Many of those people can talk about TV shows that Read more…

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Paying attention to the little things

August 3, 2011

One thing that gardening does is make you pay attention to the little things. You have to, or you won’t keep your plants alive. You notice that a few of your baby lettuces have been disappearing each night, so you know to go out after dinner and get the slug that’s been at work there. Or you notice that the broccoli leaves are laced with holes, and you know to look on the undersides for a green caterpillar.

garden with scarlet runner beansThese scarlet runner beans are not mine. But I took this photo today. It’s a garden that I bike past often on my training rides. Yesterday, I noticed that their plants are loaded with beans, whereas mine are still just flowering. So I came back home to look more closely at mine.

And what I saw was numerous dead-end stems. What should happen is that, as each flower is pollinated, the red petals fall off and a bean pod grows there. But where my beans should be, there is nothing. The stem dead-ends. So my beans are not pollinating.

And that, of course, made me think about the bees. We’ve all heard about the Read more…

Perceived danger: What should you REALLY be afraid of?

July 27, 2011

I spend a lot of time in the wilderness alone: kayaking, hiking, mountain-biking, trail-running. Sometimes I am out for just a few hours. My longest solo trips have been over a week, often not seeing anyone for many days at a time.

And so many people seem impressed by how “brave” I am. And that is so not true! I fear for my life a lot of the time. Just not when I am out there, in the wilderness. Honestly, out there is where I feel safest.

But this common reaction makes me reflect on what fear is. Or, more accurately, what leads to a perception of danger. Many of my girlfriends here in Port Alberni won’t go running on trails alone because they are afraid of “something” happening: a fall, a bear encounter. Yet they will go on long road-bike rides, 40 or 80 or even 100 km (my sporty girlfriends here are pretty impressive, I must say!)

I do rides like that too. But it’s doing road rides like that, with cars hurtling past – sometimes only inches away from my body – that makes me experience legitimate fear. Not being alone in the wilderness.

It seems to me that many people’s fear Read more…

You, too, can grow veggies – even if you don’t have a yard!

July 20, 2011

You, too, can grow veggies – even if you don’t have a yard! (Just check out those strawberries… and that photo was taken after I’d already eaten handfuls of them!)

It’s absolutely not intentional – but I find that so many of my blog posts have to do with gardening. I think that’s because the way that I think is in terms of connections (as opposed to objects, or things) and that gardening, especially vegetable gardening, represents the ultimate connection between humans and this planet we live on.

Growing my own food is really important to me. It is relaxing and meditative, a definite part of my personal mental-health program. It is also good exercise, it’s good for the environment, and it is definitely good for me: eating fresh, tasty, local, organic food.

A lot of people I know say “Well you’re lucky, Jackie. I don’t have a yard.” Well, I have not had a yard for the last two years (I was living in a townhouse in Tofino). And even now that I do have a yard with a productive little veggie garden in it, I still Read more…

Relationships in the virtual world: Connections or friends

July 13, 2011

I am in Vancouver this week, and just in from lunch with a newspaper editor who I have been working with since 2006. It was the first time we’d met face-to-face.

I’m here in the city for exactly this reason: to get some face-time with people who I interact with mainly, or in some cases exclusively, online. My trip was timed to coincide with the summer session of UBC’s Optional-Residency MFA program in Creative Writing (which I am most of the way through now), so I could meet up with many of my fellow students as well as some of the profs. But I am also taking advantage of being based here, downtown Vancouver, for the opportunity to have lunches and coffees with people who I don’t normally get a chance to see.

And all of that has made me think about this business of “friends” versus “connections,” and online relationships versus “real” relationships. I’ve managed to avoid Read more…

Looking at the big picture

June 29, 2011

Do you make your decisions, or form your opinions, by looking at the bigger picture and coming up with an idea of what you think is best, or right? Or do you simply look at how the issue will affect you?

There’s this land-sharing cooperative that I’m a member of, up the coast. A few times, an email has circulated around the group because a recent clearcut* is visible from our lots. That bothers some property owners.

Whereas for me, that one clearcut does not bother me any more than the many other recent clearcuts in Clayoquot Sound (UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve – and please note, there is no “P” on reserve). To me, cutting ancient forest down is not an issue of aesthetics; it is an issue about processes. Whether or not I ever lay eyes on any one specific clearcut, I understand what Read more…

Rise up, Canada! But not over a hockey game.

June 22, 2011

Little over a month ago, as my fellow Canadians re-elected a federal government that had defended a minister who had altered government documents after their signing (and then lied about it), and that then, for unrelated reasons, had been found to be in contempt of parliament, I wondered:

What would it take to make Canadians rise up and demonstrate?

I know that much has been written this past week about the hockey riots in Vancouver, and I think that anyone who has paid any attention to them has experienced a range of emotions.

My initial feelings – as I watched the riots live on streaming internet – were of shame and disgust. But by the following day, my disgust was tinged with irony. I’ve wanted to see my fellow Canadians take to the streets, to demonstrate make a stand – for the environment, or against a federal government that protects lying cabinet ministers, for anything that matters.

But when they finally do, it is over a hockey game.

It’s been a year of protest around the world. Demonstrations that Read more…