12 things white people can do now because Ferguson

We all have a role in ending racism and white people can start here, with 12 steps, to end racism now.


Want to join in on a blog hop?

I’m looking for bloggers to tag on my entry in a blog hop my friend Abby got me in on. You can see the format and her piece on Quills and Queries Editing.

If you’d like to participate drop me a line, I can’t publish mine until I find 2 more bloggers!

Turns out I don’t know many bloggers in real life…..

so so sad

Privileged ponderings: retirement plans aka life in my 60s

Since my beloved finished his PhD last year we’ve been trying to come up with a viable plan for when we stop working full time. I say that because I can’t imagine stopping paid work, there’s so many things I find interesting. I hope by the time I hit my mid 60’s I can have enough wealth to scale back my paid work.

Now all of this is an incredibly privileged problem to deal with, I have paid work that exceeds my basic needs and I have a pension from the military that is about what someone living on Ontario Disability Support Program would get. I’m very lucky. My beloved/manpanion/partner also scored a full time gig as he completed school so things are looking pretty good as we both slide into our 40’s this October.

The minions are teens which leaves us 5 years until they are both in post-secondary and about 8 years until they are both done an initial degree/certification. So, if my health holds, my budget should reduce quite drastically and theoretically I’ll be at the height of my earning potential, so why look at scaling back paid work at all? Well, for once, it’s not about me.

I’ve been watching my friends, parents and extended family as they enter their 60’sand one thing that strikes me is the amount of caregiving that they are doing. Their parents are in their 80’s and 90’s, a time of increasing health care and practical support needs. They have siblings living with disabilities that mean they need more than an occasional visit. They are helping adult children through this tough economy and, of course, spending time with their grandchildren. Most folks who are doing this in their 60’s are still working full time, that’s a lot of activity to fit in!

In preparation for having as much time on this good green earth as possible I’m looking first to my self-care because, as an asshole in remission, I’m quite an angry person and wound pretty tight. That is the part of an A type personality that will kill you young. So screw that, I’m living to 100 and no way am I eating cat food the last 40 years.

So am learning to grow more of my own food to both save money but also become a little bit self reliant and need a little less income. I’m exercising and listening to my doctor about my blood pressure and investing time, thought and money in my longevity. If my 60’s are going to be a caregiving ultra marathon I need to be in shape physically and mentally. I think about what leads to elder abuse and I can totally see that slippery slope if I don’t work through all my issues.

I also want to have the wealth to choose to move if my folks or in-laws need us or help those future grandkids. If the minions don’t breed I’ll just need to find other people’s grandkids to spoil.

I’m lucky to have so many people in my life who show my what life in my 60’s can look like. Friends who are learning new things all the time, having fun and pulling it all off most of the time and when they can’t they ask for help.

I want to measure my wealth in retirement by the pounds of food grown, the decibels of laughter, the friends and family at my table. Yes, cash matters but maybe it’s not as much a focus as the time I get to do it and who I get to do that with.


When you can’t race

On January first I made a list of commitments to myself:

2014 commitments to myself

I was off to a resounding start, I registered first thing on January 1 for the Kincardine Triathlon (dotted CHECK) and tried slack-lining a few days later (CHECK). I had been feeling a bit off and had only done light training when I thought I should check with my doctor. I’d done 2 sprint distance triathlons before but I wanted to be sure. Turns out it was a good idea and you can read all my ruminations about blood pressure, genetics and self care here and here.

Last week I notified the race director I would not be racing and offered to volunteer if they were still looking. I had committed to travelling with a friend and I wasn’t going to leave her hanging plus I know about 4 other women racing. So look for me in the transition zone ladies! When you can’t race you can still participate….CHECK that one off the list (ya, it’s cheating but sometimes you need to redefine success).

I’m growing food (CHECK) and having more fun (CHECK). I’m doing therapy around over eating and savouring my food (CHECK) mooohahahahahaha

And I still have 6 months to go!

The luxury of failure

hobbit house garden June 2014

The hobbit house garden is coming along nicely.

Last year  I sheet mulched the front lawn and planted a guild of perennials around the crabapple on the right that included yarrow, strawberries, horseradish and borage. I put in a tomatoe patch on the left edged by native plants: obedience, virginia mountain mint, blue vervain, new england asters and white echanacea. The native plants weren’t very impressive last year but this year they are really taking off, all chest height and ready to bloom I can’t wait to see all the pollinators that will visit them.

I’m trying all kinds of edible plants in the gardens around the house, I have the luxury of failing. I don’t rely on surplus to sell and if something doesn’t grow I simply buy what I need. That is a privilege I don’t want to squander. Time seems to be on my side as I learn how to grow perennial & annual foods. The hardy kiwis on my back porch won’t bear fruit for 3 more years, but I have the luxury of time, I have enough cash to buy food too.

The UN published a report a while back that emphasized the need to shift away from large scale monoculture farming to small scale polyculture. If you want an idea of what that might look like applied in an urban setting I highly recommend reading Anni Kelsey’s book Edible Perennial Gardening and be sure to check out her blog.

So while the ants, squirrels, skunks, raccoon and hares have been having a heyday in my very edible yard I can rest assured we won’t go hungry thansk to On the Move Organics

Claire delivering my order from On the Move Organics

My garden keeps working on me

Since the awesome Forest Garden Convergence in June I’ve been seeing my garden in a new light. There’s been a shift in my thinking about how densely to pack the plants in, about what’s being pulled and what I leave to grow. I’ve started thinking about which foods I already eat that are perennials (like asparagus, berries and nuts) and how I can get more perennial foods in my garden.

kale thyme sage garlic chives polyculture

More than that, my relationship to food is changing, I’ve started asking “how far has this travelled to me?” and “what does this food do for me?”. I’m appreciating how much work goes into growing food and I’ve become a bit more miserly, making sure nothing goes to waste.

I love growing things, something I discovered when we lived in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. Playing in the earth drops me from from hectic to reflective almost immediately and I’ve been looking for more things that trigger the relaxation response. I feel that deep sense of calm and well-being when I meditate, chant, work on my yoga practice, read and even staring into my aquarium.

.planted tank June 29 2014

I see my blood pressure drop as I eat a more plant based diet and I’ve been able to engage my self-discipline to mange my over-eating and use of alcohol. My blood pressure is dropping and my weight is shifting, decreasing by 6%, from simply being mindful.

As I try to apply the principles of permaculture to my garden and to myself. The most transformation has been on me, my thoughts and actions, what some folks call internal permaculture. I’m hoping to get a copy of this great book to keep growing my ability to nurture myself.

Stop eating beef?

A few weeks ago I saw an amazing infographic on shrinkthatfootprint.com that demonstrated how simply shifting away from beef could significantly reduce my carbon foot print. Carbon footprints are often on my mind, that’s partly why I walk to work and pay a little more for local, in season, organic produce.

For my family to stop eating beef would be a small change, we have it about once a week, but as the grilling season hits I’m tempted by the smell of steaks wafting from my neighbour’s yard. Time to check out Thug Kitchen for some awesome plant based grilling action.