Sunday, November 15, 2015

It is said that the heart has to break to hold more

Good morning everyone,

I hope this note finds you well.

Some days are more full than others.

Wednesday through Friday I and a friend spent many, many hours travelling by car between London and Ottawa for a conference: Food Security in a Changing Climate. It was organized by the Canadian Climate Forum* - itself begun by scientists from a disbanded Canadian federal government department, along with other climate scientists and people in other professions and avocations.  The conference was more than worth the travel time, and rain on the scary 401 highway at night!

To be in a room with activists, politicians, scientists from many realms - all people who care and think and act - is amazing.  Mind and heart filling, physically felt ... amazing.  Tho' there were ideas I'd have liked to have heard brought forward at the sessions, given the format and the 1 1/2 days of meetings, nothing else could have been squeezed in.  And we've got time to go forward and bring in more people and ideas and actions ... especially actions.  Dr. Richard Hebda** helped sum up our time and was emphatic that we have to keep in touch.  I'll be mailing him a real card soon, thanking him for two kinds of bean seeds.  His research and that of other presenters was as sophisticated and done-by-protocol as anyone's ... that he is at heart a gardener touches me and confirms that that sort of connection keeps us all stronger.  I got to have a chat with Elizabeth May, head of the Green Party of Canada, and an ongoing inspiration for all the environment-related work I do!

In the way of our contrary universe, I returned home to a plumbing problem (at least we now know where the smell was coming from and can begin to fix much).

In the way of the universe that smacks us upside the head to put things in perspective, I returned home to hear about the shootings in Paris. They had been happening just at the time our conference had been wrapping up. 

At the food security and climate change forum we'd heard about a six year drought in Syria that had begun well before the current military horrors ... and that, very likely, the disruptions caused by 80% reductions in crops (climate change related!) are as strongly related to what's going on there as any political infighting.

What grief were the organizers going through as they had to clear up after the conference, a time when they should have been excited and planning forward?  The French ambassador to Canada had been guest speaker at a Thursday evening dinner, speaking about the upcoming climate change conference of parties.  What shift in heart and mind has he felt in the last two days?  

The above is such a short note to cover 5 days of life!

How is it that an "empty" feeling can be heavy and physical at the same time? 

Twenty years ago I trained as a yoga teacher at the Kripalu Center, and over the years did much reading.  Many times I've come across the idea that a heart can be so full of emotion that it breaks, so that it can heal and be able to hold more and help a person give more.  I explain that badly, no doubt.  And no doubt the psychologists have a different take on things.  I do know that the emotion of deep grief "bursts" and moves to a fatigue and other feelings and can, with thought and time and compassion from onself, lead to greater strength.  I've certainly had my most recent break in these last few days ... and I'm glad to know that I've experienced that regrouping before and will again.

Namaste dear people,

Why's Woman

* Canadian Climate Forum:
** Dr. Richard Hebda's short biography:

Monday, November 9, 2015

Something to say again as Canada changes government


I hope this note finds you well.  There's been a lot happening in the last while.

People who know me would not believe that I can be lost for words.  I'm usually writing a letter to the editor or to city council, researching something, or posting on a sister site Community Gardens London.  For a long while now, posts here have been infrequent.  I'm hoping that will change.

On the CBC news and vaulting through Facebook is a post by journalist Jody Paterson, beginning with some thoughts from her scientist son and continuing with her own relief at being rid of Canada's just past prime minister.  (Paterson's blog: here )

Paterson's son wrote about the un-gagging of Canadian government scientists: "It is official. At an all staff meeting today with some of the best scientists in the world, certainly the ones who know our coast better than anyone (and I am lucky enough to work for some of them), we were told that it's ok to talk to the media or anyone about what we do without permission. That's how surreal it was. That's how things changed over night."

Journalist Paterson followed with: "What I have come to see through the popularity of that post is just how oppressed, bitter and sorrowful Canadians had become under the Harper government, and how hungry they were for optimism and hope again. I wonder if we even knew how dejected we felt until the day of the election, when even apolitical types like me felt our hearts lift at the prospect that maybe, just maybe, the Dark Lord had been vanquished and hope was possible again."

On the morning of October 20 - the "morning after" Canada's federal election.  I scanned news sites to double-check results.  And somewhere along the way my shoulders relaxed.  Something inside got quiet in a way it had not for a while, in a way that's different from meditation. 

Over the last couple of weeks I've identified the feeling as feeling hopeful about an array of things, including: that Canada just may be able to contribute something useful to the upcoming climate talks in France; that perhaps Canada may be able to get itself out of a trade agreement that gives 12 more countries the right to sue us when they cannot take over our economy.

I've been fighting with myself to not smile when I hear our new prime minister Trudeau make a speech.  That fight comes from the years long habit of worry and fear for our country.  As "a Taurus" astrologically (even tho' I profess to not put any credence in the characteristics given) I am slow to change.  My head also realizes that fear is pervasive and moving from fear is not an overnight trip.

I've also spoken with acquaintances who are members of the NDP and Green Party who question what is going to happen next ... and then - to a one - make a positive comment about Mr. Trudeau along with their "we'll see" comment.  From these people, this is high praise.

So, I'm taking a breath, smiling a bit as I write, and expecting that I'll be writing more. 

Very best regards,

Why's Woman

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: 

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