Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Faith ... some ideas for activists from 500 years ago

Hello everyone,

Hope this note finds you well.  I'm not the blogger today ... just sending along a quotation about faith ... written by Francesco Guiciardini, an Italian historian and politician who lived 1483 – 1540. 

Faith breeds obstinacy—for faith is no more than believing firmly and almost with certainty things that are not in themselves reasonable; or if reasonable, believing them more unreservedly than reason warrants.

Therefore, he who has faith becomes stubborn in his belief, and goes on his way resolute and intrepid, contemning/disdaining/disregarding/deprecating difficulties and dangers, and ready to suffer every extremity.

And so it happens that, as the things of this world are subject to infinite changes and chances, unlooked for help may come in many ways over time to one who has obstinately persevered. And when this perseverance is the result of faith, it may well be said that faith can accomplish great things.

We currently have a great example of such stubbornness of the Florentines—a group who, contrary to all human reason, prepared themselves to await the joint attack of Pope and Emperor, with no hope of receiving help for anyone else, with disunity among themselves, and with difficulties facing them on every side. For seven months, they have managed to fight off the assaults of armies, even though it seemed impossible for them to do so even for seven days.

In fact, they have brought things to such a point that if they were to win now, no one would be surprised, whereas earlier, everyone assumed they would lose.

And this stubbornness of theirs is mainly due to the belief that—as Friar Girolamo of Ferrara told them in his sermons—they cannot be destroyed.

I note this here because I'm feeling obstinate after a meeting at City Hall today ... and need to get myself ready for the next round.

Kind Regards,

Why's Woman

Francesco Guicciardini: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_Guicciardini 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Reaching beyond the climate change reports ... to keep going

Hello everyone,

I hope this note finds you well.

The summer has been going by quickly ... I've been working gardening for other people many mornings... taking naps in the afternoon as the heat knocks me out.

I've never done well in the heat.  And the nightly weather reports have been revealing about this.  A lot of heat records in August were set in 1955 for our Southwestern Ontario area. And I've been thinking: Poor Mum!  At home with a new baby in a month with days at 34 degrees celcius.  And Mum hated hot weather even more than I do. 

As a matter of fact - and forgive me if I mentioned this in a previous post - I'm quite sure that it was hot weather in 1999 that contributed to Mum's death.  Never mind that she was 80.  There'd been a spate of really hot weather ... and several days after it passed she passed away.  It was quick, for which I've always been grateful.

And now, with the weather reports and the climate change reports in the media and on even local news ... well, I'm sure glad she's not around to hear about it all.  Or to hear about the harms to the animal world, or poaching of endangered species in other countries.  So many shows on her favorite TVO would be bringing her awful information, if she were here to watch.

How does this little reminiscence fit with Saving the World in My Spare Time? A number of ways. 

Certainly, there's having to say that being upset by all that goes on is distressing.  Being distressed about climate change reports or (yet another) report on the harm neonicotinoid insectivides are wreaking upon the environment (pollinator deaths) is a normal response.  And those of us who are working on environment topics need to be able to say to others that we get tired. 

As Jenna Woginrich (Cold Antler Farm blog) happened to write today in regards to her farm ... it takes a community to make it work.  We who slog away reading pesticide reports, watershed diagrams, or community garden strategic plans that make no commitment to the gardeners all need to realize that ... altho' we are using hours of our lives on lonely paperwork, we may be one of the few people in our community who understand the local history/impact of a particular situation and that is good.  A few more of our hours need to be spent locating and speaking with the other few who are concerned about a topic.  And it's together that we will be able to continue fact-checking, letter-writing, webkeeping, and communicating.

Sometimes, we need to spend that little extra time on something we don't think we have time for ... and the reaching out will eventually save a bit of time and add a bit of stamina and inspiration for saving the world.

Just a few thoughts.  Getting back to the blog page.

Hope you are taking time for yourself this summer ... gardening, bike riding, reading a great book, eating good food with friends.

Very best regards,

Whys Woman

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rainwater capture and climate change

Hello Everyone,

Hope you are well.  If you are in the Southwestern Ontario area that's had so much rain lately ... I hope you are also dry!  I haven't checked the Environment Canada tally but we must have had two bouts of rain over the last two weeks that that had over 5cm of rain each time.

I actually went out and purchased two new garbage cans to store rainwater in!  Couldn't afford proper rain barrels or hose attachments, but I bucketed water from the one catch-barrel into the others and now have three on the porch.  The two proper rainbarrels at the side of the house were already full from the previous rain, as was a container by the back door, one by the vegetable garden, and every small buckets and watering can around the place.

And it rained a bit this evening!  Just to get a last measure in for June.

So a June with an overabundance of rain follows May with really no rain.

The interior of British Columbia is having a heat wave.  The Canadian Prairies are having drought.  And who knows if Ontario here will get rain for the rest of the summer!?

Welcome to climate change and weather anomalies. 

I wonder if anyone has yet put together the garden workshop series on Gardening for Climate Change, or a book of that title. 

A further odd thing is that we have all the things we did not plant specifically growing huge around the gardens.  Things like peppers, tomatoes, beets, and basil - things we planted - are growing slowly. 

I don't really know what it means ... perhaps just to be happy for the herbs we've got in abundance.  More catnip this year than I've ever seen.  Taller day lilies and coffee chicory.

Lots of flowers.

I'll take that.

Best regards to all!

Why's Woman

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The power of knitting - and Happy Birthday Stephanie

Hello everyone,

I've been busy gardening for many people ... and sometimes for myself and family.  And struggling to find time to ... time to do something that I haven't even been sure of what I wanted it to be.

And then I read Stephanie Pearl McPhee's Yarn Harlot blog post for today.  It's her birthday, and altho' she doesn't usually work on her birthday, today she's been working - teaching workshops to creative people who gathered to share ideas and be inspired - and discovered that this work day is really a good birthday because she has been doing things she loves.  As she said:

"Yeah, I'm going to work a 12 hour day on my birthday ... but ... I'm so lucky that this is my work.  I'll be surrounded by people who have set aside a whole weekend to learn to make things, and celebrate being someone who makes things, and the whole day we'll talk about knitting, and how it works and every person here, every one of them, thinks that's not stupid."

The parts I really like in that quotation are "celebrate being someone who makes things" and "every person here ... thinks that's not stupid"

The celebration of herself is something beyond the "do what you love" idea from the '90s ... and I think it takes it several big steps forward.

It involves loving the act - the art/craft of knitting in Stephanie's case - and it involves a recognition and celebration of her good self.  And the shared joy in the activity bolsters the community.

I'm just thinking quietly to myself that I am a gardener.  I make gardens.  I am able to help other people make gardens.  That's good.  And I like it.  And I like myself for that.

Well, isn't that something!

Happy Birthday Stephanie!  Thanks for working on your birthday and touching me, as well as all the people who are in your workshop.

Best regards to all of you!

Wise Woman

Monday, May 18, 2015

heat, no rain and long roots ?

Hello Everyone,

Does this month seem to be going at double speed?  Does that have something to do with the over-warm weather and the lack of rain? (I live in Southwestern Ontario)  Is there any keeping up with the gardens?

Well ... as for the gardens, I'd'a thought things wouldn't be growing so fast because of the lack of rain.  However, the heat must be causing everything to leap up.  I've got several stalksof peach leaf bellflower that have full buds on them.  The Sweet Cicely is blooming - a gorgeous sweep of it at the front.  Tulips flower for about two days then fade.  I blink and mised the sweetbay magnolias.

The other hand of it? Seems to me a lot of seeds are really slow germinating, and the ones that have germinated - some kale and coriander, beets and spinach in the gardens ... well, the tiny plants seem to have stalled in growth.  I'm hoping that they are sending down really long roots into the soil, looking for moisture.

The seeds that haven't hesitated to germinate are - big surprise! - garlic mustard.  It's all over my place, and several other gardens I work in.

Just realized I was asleep at my keyboard ...that's another indicator of the weird weather ... but one I'd better pay attention to.

Signing off ... and sending best regards,

Why's Woman

Monday, April 27, 2015

plastic bag reduction ... failure

Hello everyone,

Hope this short note finds you well.

For the last while I've been working one day a week for a local market vendor.

I end up having to give a plastic carry bag to about 8 out of 10 people.

Where do these guys think they're shopping?  It's a market.  Bring your bags!

The environment movement has failed on this one.

And how did we end up with people making purchases for $2.70 on debit cards? And whatever happened to the retailers' campaign to tell people that it costs them (via retailers) more to use a credit card for electronic purchase than a debit card ... because retailers are charged more per purchase. 

And how is it that a city the size of this one hasn't a food recovery project like Second Harvest in Toronto?

I'll spare you a longer rant on food waste.

Thanks for letting me blow off some steam here.

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Organic Weed Control - exerpt from Jean-Martin Fortier's book!

Hello everyone!

I hope this note finds you well. I've been taking a break from the political to get out into the gardens, and it's so nice to get away from the computer and research and just get my hands dirty and scratched up. Today an email came in from Mother Earth News which led me to why ~ once more ~ I just love Mother Earth News magazine:

So-called natural organic herbicides claiming to control weeds may do so in the short term, but they destroy the long-term biological health of the soil.
                                                            The Market Gardener, (New Society Publishers, 2014) by Jean-Martin Fortier

I didn't have Fortier's succinct words the other day to tell someone I was gardening for that it had not been a good strategy when her late husband would use "some really great stuff" he had that (supposedly) controlled "just the grass" in her flower beds.  She then went on to say that the Ontario government - in its folly at putting in the Ontario cosmetic pesticide regulations of 2008/9 - had banned whatever it was he'd used.

I'm not sure how I took on the particular gardening job I'm on, but I'll get through it.  I think the person is open to more environmentally sensitive methods.  After all, she loves her garden and says she wants butterflies and bees!  I'm so used to people who aren't already organic-minded, that meeting up with others throws me.  Opportunity!  I'll try to keep that in mind. 

Fortier goes on to say that:

For weed management practices to be both ecological and sustainable, a market gardener should rather look into careful planning for weed prevention and follow with effective and efficient weed control strategies. Dealing with weeds the organic way also takes persistence, the right tools, and innovative techniques.

                                                            The Market Gardener, (New Society Publishers, 2014) by Jean-Martin Fortier

I'm not a market gardener, but I always appreciate a practical, clear gardening book, and Fortier's sure is that.  With so much information that can be used in anyone's home or community garden!

Mother Earth News magazine has an excerpt about organic weed management, from Fortier's excellent book, online here:

I've just ordered my copy of the book from Mandala Books, and it is in the London Public Library too.

Thanks to Jean-Martin Fortier and his wife Maude-Hélène Desroches, who run Jardin de la Grelinette for the book, and thanks to Mother Earth News for bringing the excerpt to us.  They are saving the world in their full time!

Best regards to all of you!

Why's Woman