Thursday, July 31, 2008

Singing The Summer Blues

I am officially DONE with summer! This feeling usually hits me later than this, usually towards the middle or end of August, but not this year, oh no.

Maybe it is something to do with the time we spent up in the lovely green, cool northwest, or something to do with the fact that the monsoon seems to have dried up. The monsoon storms cool the temperatures down considerably and bring wonderful rain, although we haven't seen much at all where we live yet. Whatever the reason I have the summer blues real bad! I have been spending my time looking through our vacation pictures and dreaming of cooler climes.


Of course it is hot here in the summer, I know that. Each year I think that perhaps I will handle it better, and complain less, and yet each summer I handle it less, and complain even more. I am not a lot of fun to be around either. Sigh.

It really is hard for me to feel like I am making even the smallest contribution to the environment when we have our AC cranking out coolness continually, (even if it is set at 83 which feels miserably warm), and I feel guilty every time I water the plants. I constantly have to resist the urge to pack up the girls in the car and drive somewhere cool, like Payson, or Flagstaff. It seems very tempting but is not a very good long term solution.

Today we have been trying to keep busy by talking about the fall, and the things we are going to plant in our garden. And so the girls and I went out and bought some seeds.


I am using the super planting calender from The Urban Farm web site for our fall veggies. This has made it much easier for me to understand the right time to plant veggies here in the low desert. This weekend we will plant cucumbers, squash, corn, snap beans, and sunflowers in a bed that gets plenty of afternoon shade!

I also splurged a little today and bought a money tree plant. I have wanted one for ages, and it was kind of a last treat before I start compacting tomorrow. I know it was a bit extravagent, and it wasn't bought from a locally owned store I am afraid, but it looks so nice, and it makes me feel better somehow. Maybe it will bring us cooler weather and rain?


These are some melon seeds that K planted a few days ago. We were really just messing around and not expecting anything to grow, so were very surprised when they sprouted! Not sure how well they will do in the heat though.


Hopefully by keeping busy I can keep the summer blues at bay. I really need to be more creative and come up with some cheap and cheerful ways for us to stay busy in the heat. I am so NOT one of those Mom's that keeps their children entertained for hours with a length of string, a cardboard box, and odds and ends from the junk drawer. I SO wish I was, but I just am not. Sorry girls!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Great Show!

Since happily discovering Planet Green I haven't had a lot of time to check it out. One show I have been watching though is “Greensburg", a documentary about the rebuilding of the town in Kansas that was pretty much demolished after a tornado in May of 2007.

Instead of rebuilding Greensburg back the way it was before, a decision was made to rebuild “green” so that it will eventually be a showcase community for sustainable living.

Greensburg is compelling viewing for me with the deep interest I have for sustainability issues, but it is also compelling as human drama about a town rebuilding after such a devastating disaster.

The personal stories are of loss and tragedy, but also of hope and courage, and it is very inspiring to watch as city planners try to reconcile the needs, hopes, and dreams of the community, with the restraints of finance and time. Not everyone in the community is on board with putting the “green” into Greensburg, but many people are despite obstacles, and this is inspiring to see.

The prevailing sentiment of “Greensburg” for me is one of a community courageously facing up to a major disaster, while also facing up to the challenges all of our communities face as fossil fuels are depleted, and as the damage we are wreaking on our planet rises to critical levels.

I hope city planners elsewhere are watching "Greensburg" and taking notes!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Produce


As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been doing pretty well shopping at independent, local stores for things like birthday gifts and the like. We have a lovely toy store close by, and a bead store, as well as fairly good second hand book store, though sadly one not nearly as nice as Changing Hands which is too far away for us to shop at regularly. I am not however doing at all well at shopping locally for our produce.

I think that there are several reasons for this the first and most obvious of which is finance. We are like many, feeling the pinch economically as prices go up, and wages don’t. This means that I am being more careful than ever with the housekeeping money by trying to make it stretch as far as possible, and so I find myself gravitating towards Sprouts Farmer’s Market , which has all the expected benefits of a national chain store. It is convenient and competetively priced, though of course for the most part the produce they sell is not grown locally. I have found that despite having several lovely farmers markets here in the valley, one of which is also quite close by, they tend to be more expensive than I had hoped. I am not quite sure why this is, or whether this is true in other states where growing things may be a bit less labor intensive than here in our hot, and arid climate.

Another reason sadly is convenience. It is simply more convenient to shop at a local grocery store any day one chooses rather than going to the farmers market on the days that it is open. I know people that do this, but somehow I can't get organized enough to get there regularly each week, what with family, school, work etc.

Another thing I had planned on doing was signing up for CSA farm produce. “Community Supported Agriculture” is a nationwide organization that provides individuals with the opportunity to buy shares of produce from local farms. There are several CSA farms here in the valley, one of which we signed up with several years ago and were very happy with. Once again, it isn’t always the cheapest way to get produce, but you know it is local, and fresh, and it builds a wonderful sense of community knowing that you are supporting the vital cause of small scale farming. I am not quite sure why I have been holding back from doing this again, there is really no good reason except perhaps that I am so conscious of our budget and not wanting to be wasteful. Last time I was not at all organized, well most of the time I was hardly coherent. I had just given birth to our first bundle of joy, and I was most definitely not up to the challenge of leafing through cookery books to find innovative recipes for kohlrabi. I am very ashamed to say that some of the lovely veggies we got ended up on our compost heap. (My DH has never quite let me forget this, and I can’t say I blame him!) What a waste and I HATE waste! I think at the moment it all comes down to feeling so darned busy all the time, and that makes me feel overwhelmed. When I feel this way I revert to strictly planning our meals and shopping accordingly. In some strange way this makes me feel like I have some semblance of control over the chaos.

Perhaps my saving grace here in the valley is that we have two growing seasons for vegetables. Planting for the fall season starts at the beginning of August, and I have big plans for our veggie garden this fall. I have a lot of work to do to get enough growing space ready, but I love that kind of work, so that is not a problem. I am still such amateur gardener, but I hope that I will manage to grow enough to be able to supplement our produce needs, so that buying locally more often doesn’t seem to be such an overwhelming task. I hope so anyway.

I really wish that I could present myself as a shining example of how easy it is to buy locally, and to live sustainably. Instead I fear that I am more of a shining example of how difficult it can be to do both within the confines of our modern lives. That doesn't mean that I am not trying though. I mean it is what I believe in, what I am completely passionate about. My intention is still as strong as ever, and there is always tomorrow, which is Saturday............ Farmers Market Day!

(The picture is of Pike's Place Farmers Market, Seattle).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Local First Arizona

Recently I have not been making any unnescessary purchases in lieu of starting my compacting pledge at the beginning of August. However, when I really do need to buy something such as a birthday gift, I have been trying to support local, independent stores. I am surprised by how many we have within a fairly small area of where we live.

Using independent stores that are close to home saves gas, and reduces our carbon footprint. I am able to combine many of my errands without driving far. It also provides vital support for independent business.

I have found Local First Arizona to be a really useful resource that provides listings of local business in Arizona.

"We are the locally-owned, independent businesses that are the backbone of the Arizona economy. When you shop at a locally owned business, 45 cents of every dollar stays in Arizona - versus only 13 cents of every dollar spent at a national chain!"

The "Why Shop Locally" page is a very interesting read, and I highly recommend this resource for those of us living here, and for visitors to our beautiful state as well!

For me shopping at independent stores as often as possible has become a big part of trying to live more sustainably, at least when I absolutely have to buy something new!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Our (Not Very Green), Vacation

Here are some of the pictures of our vacation through California, Oregon, Washington State, Vancouver Island, and Vancouver BC. There don't seem to be any decent ones of us all together as a family I am afraid.

Smoke over Santa Barbara from the coastal fires.


Solvang, California.


The State Capital, Salem, Oregon.


The stunning Oregon Coast.


Playing in the sand at Seaside, Oregon.


Mount Hood.


The river running through downtown Bend.


Crater Lake. Have you ever seen water so blue?


Seattle skyline.


The Space Needle.


Sweet Peas at Pike's Place Farmers Market.


Riding on a pig outside Pike's Place.


Fun riding on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay near Vancouver BC, to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.


A view from my Aunt and Uncle's backyard of Comox Glacier, Vancouver Island.


Two little girls having fun in the sun.


View from Mount Washington, Vancouver Island.


A totem pole in Stanley Park, Vancouver BC.


E eating big Corn.


Our little star!


Griffith Observatory, LA.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Home At Last!

We are finally home from our epic American, and Canadian west coast odyssey! We traveled well over four thousand miles in 16 days, in our minivan, all of us together, and for the most part it was fantastic!

Thanks to R's immaculate planning we saw lots of wonderful places, met up with some old friends and family, and took a good look at possible places for us to move to in the next two years or so. It has always been my dream to move up to the northwest, and I was not disappointed, it has some beautiful scenery, and most memorable places.

Of course I have pictures that I will post later, but because I have a ton of laundry to do, and two very sleepy little girls to feed and put to bed, I will finish for now. But not before a "highs" and "lows" list from the trip!

Highs:

Quality time driving over four thousand miles with my nearest and dearest. (The girls were SO good, I couldn't believe how well they did on the really long drives).
Watching July 4th fireworks from Santa Barbara pier.
Stopping off in San Francisco to see my dear friend Mags.
Driving from Medford, up to Portland, Oregon. My oh my, what an amazingly beautiful, and GREEN area of the country.
Getting a compostable coffee cup, and hearing a radio commercial for why we should all be composting. That was in Oregon of course!
Experiencing a summer music concert on a beautiful evening in Bend.
The Space needle, Pike Place market, and fish and chips in Seattle.
Taking the ferry from Horseshoe Bay over to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, BC. Beautiful views, and such fun.
Staying with my Aunt and Uncle in Courteneney BC.
Granville Island, Vancouver BC.
The many brew pubs, and of course many brews we sampled along the way.
Crater Lake, utterly awe inspiring!
Dim Sum with friends in LA today.
The fuzzy, furry, slobbery greeting we received from our four lovely furry friends as we arrived home. Dogs have SO got it right!

Lows:

Quality time driving over four thousand miles with my nearest and dearest. OK, I jest, there were only a FEW lows, really! Most of these centred around a husband and a wife, a map, and someone not wanting to ask for directions. Haha!!!
The smoke and ash in Santa Barbara from the coastal fires. The air quality was really bad at that time I think.
The amount of fast food we ate, though this was balanced out a bit by the amount of great food we ate at all the brewpubs!
Gas Prices, especially in Canada!
Driving the freeways, and realizing that unless we all stop driving the way that we do, and fast, we don't have a chance of slowing global warming. (And that DEFINITELY includes me too having just driven so far).
Finding a cockroach on K's pillow in a really seedy motel in Sacramento.
Severe sleep deprivation. No, I mean REALLY severe, the kind that you have a month after your first baby has been born. For some reason I developed insomnia all the way, and the cockroach on the pillow really didn't help with that.

It was a great trip with the highs definitely outweighing the lows. I am so glad that we went, and I look forward to going back and seeing some of those amazing places again. I have to say though, it is great to be back home again, and to see how much everything in the garden has sprouted and grown with all the monsoon moisture. Yes, it really is nice to be home.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I Have Been Tagged

I have been tagged twice now, first by Titania at "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow In My Garden", and now by Lee at "The Sun is Killing Me".

Here are the rules-

Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about yourself.
Tag six people at the end of your blog. (I am actually tagging five).
Let each person know they have been tagged, by leaving a comment on their blog. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Here are six things about myself:

I love the the outdoors, nature, animals, and all green things. This is where I feel truly at home.
I always dreamed growing up that I would be a Mum to two beautiful dark haired, brown eyed little girls, and guess what, I am!
I am really rather shy, even more so as I get older.
I am very bad at math!!!!
Although I generally eat pretty healthily, potato chips are my huge weakness.

The (five), people I am tagging are

Extraordinarily Unextraordinary
Three Snakes and a Rooster
Midlife Midwife
Blogging One day At A Time,
and SugarCreekStuff

Thanks!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008