Archive for Being the Change

We got up between 3:30 and 4:30 am yesterday to get the bus going to Grand Island, NE. We wanted to make sure our voices were heard at the one and only open public meeting for comments on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. The bus was quiet as we headed East into the sun. Some slept, some worked on their 3 minute speeches, and others kept tabs on what was already happening at the Fair Grounds in Grand Island. As our bus was leaving Denver, people were already lined up in the snowy cold to get their names on the list to make a comment.

It wasn’t a huge crowd of 50,000 like the protest in Washington, DC in February. It was a determined crowd; it was a quietly passionate crowd; a crowd dedicated to being heard! Our bus arrived at 2 pm CDT, and we rushed in to sign up to have our voices heard. I was #265. Right then speaker #35 was commenting and the crowd of more than 500 was listening attentively.

During the first few hours, it became clear that opposition to the KXL was in the majority by far. In the next 9 hours I heard almost 200 people comment. I listened to 23 people speak in favor of the pipeline and all spoke in the first few hours. By 5 pm, only one Union Pipefitter remained. “This will bring jobs and revenue.” they said. “This will be good for the economy.” The rest of us spoke among, around and through these empty statements. Notably there were no Transcanada/Keystone representatives anywhere to be seen for the entire time I was there. If they spoke, it was in the first 34 people, and then they were gone!

This hearing was run by three representatives of the State Department, who were attentive, respectful, and compassionate to the end! As the hours slipped away, it became obvious they wanted each of us to be heard. The three minutes was extended when need be. At 8 pm, the supposed end to the comment period, it was extended so all may be heard. And the people stayed! They came from all over Nebraska. They came from Chicago, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Kansas and Virginia to name a few. Some drove all night and would drive all night home just to be heard for 3 minutes. Most/all paid for it out of their own pockets.

The over whelming and passionate opinion of this body of Americans was: NO! This pipeline will do no good. It is not necessary. It is a climate disaster, a farming disaster, and an accident waiting to happen that cannot be easily (or ever) cleaned up! Fifth generation farmers on their family land talked about how carefully they had to treat the earth because it is so fragile in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. We heard about the tricks, lies, and coercion used by the Keystone XL company to make these farmers give up their land. People who had been directly affected and effected by the oil spills in Kalamazoo, MI and Mayfair, AK gave us ‘on the ground’ information about their disasters.

Three years later, the Kalamazoo neighborhood has not been cleaned up. 150 homes were lost, contaminated beyond use. In Mayfair the immediate increase in illness among children, the elderly, and the sick was addressed. On and on it went; nursing Mothers to Grandfathers spoke eloquently and plainly; teachers, doctors, lawyers, farmers, and hippies all had one voice: NO! We don’t need this! We don’t want this! This is a hideous, damaging, unnecessary and evil scheme that has no redeeming virtues what-so-ever! From experts to everyday folks, professors to Native Americans, the message was to reject this awful travesty. We are all very solid about that!

I had tears in my eyes many times during the hours and hours of testimony, not because of tragedy but because these people were describing their lives, their love of the land, the simple beauty of a fragile ecosystem with good water, and how it could all be destroyed forever by the KXL. Worst of all, neither this company (nor any other) has to clean up a spill when it happens! Since it is not technically ‘oil’, they are not responsible for clean-up or paying into the clean-up fund!!

President Obama, your Grandmother died just before you were elected. She was your ‘Wisdom Keeper’, and you lost that blessed voice of reason and love. Listen now to the voices of the Grandmothers everywhere! Deeply in our hearts we know this is wrong and so do you! We do not need this awful, dirty oil! We need clean water, living soils, and healthy children. We know this, you know this, and we are begging you and John Kerry to do the right thing! Please don’t go down in history as the President who sold our good earth to a foreign oil company for 50 pieces of silver.

Jan
09

New Year, New Life – Really? Really!

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Grandmothers know that when change lands squarely in your lap, it is time to accept it, adjust to it, and keep going. Now I don’t suggest that this is without some moaning and groaning, mumbling and whining. In fact I highly recommend some amount of whinging to clear that from your system. I have to love where I am to be there, so when I am ‘told’ it all must go, I’m not going to stuff it! It is hard to move on! So allowing¬† the normal emotions to flow through me is the only way to get on with it for me.

This 2012 thing came at me in December with a will of its own. I ended last year with a bang – not a whimper! I learned that the lovely couple that owns the home I’ve been living in for the last 5 years wants to move in – for understandable reasons. So I’m packing. Then I learned that my email had been hacked and most of my email addresses are gone, my contact lists are gone, and my UrbanForager.co website had been taken over by a phishing scam. So it is closed for now. That pretty much sums it up. Oh yes, and since I had to have a new engine put in my car, it is not the same vehicle at all any more. Good car, but I don’t love it like I used to.

So I have given up my attachment to my car, my home, and whether or not I am an online presence at the moment. What I also know is that when it gets this messy, I look for the Hand of God/dess. Nothing else makes sense to me. What is Creator up to this time, I wonder? So I consult my personal Oracles and find there is no information at this time…Blank Rune, standstill, wait and see…hummmmm.

Taking one step at a time, I am packing as if I will be putting everything in storage. I am getting myself ready for some ‘walk-about’ time. I am sorting and letting go of all that does not serve me now and all that does not bring me Joy. Those are my prime questions for all that I have: Does it bring me joy? Does it serve me NOW? And finally – Do I want to take care of it any longer?

This is an interesting project. I have decided to let go of all the things that are ‘everyday’ and pull out all of the ‘Good Stuff’ I have been saving for…??? The translucent German china that breaks so easily? I’m eating on it until it’s gone. The crocheted placemats Grandmother made when my parents were young marrieds? On the table now to get worn out. You get the idea. Enough saving anything already! My children and Grandchildren get to hear the stories of these things now by being around me as I use them. They won’t know why I have it if it is in a box!

Some I will give away with the story of them attached. Some I will sell if no one wants them. I wish to be free of the ‘saving for…’ syndrome once and for all. It is NOW and they are here, so I will use them or pass them on. This goes for the books as well. I know where to get more, if I remember I want them again. Some I am reading fast, then putting them in the yard sale boxes. I will have no more than 3 or 4 boxes left, and ones I can lift I might add! Cooking and preserving books; plant, bird, and nature books; a few reading books; and some odds and ends like that. I am finding when I pick up a book that I loved and can’t get beyond the first page or two, out it goes.

An interesting idea is that I have shifted so much during the past year or so these books and things wind up being so Last Century, so Last Millennium that they no longer have anything current to say to me! I am climbing out of the sandbox and all the toys I used to love are now no longer interesting except in an historical way. I have neither the time, the energy, or the where-with-all to continue carting around that sort of history. <SIGH> What history I need is in me. This other stuff is really not relevant any more.

So off I go… Keep tuned and I will share some dreams for the future I do have in the next blog! Happy New Year!!

Apr
24

You Can Afford Clean, Healthy Food

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There has been a lot said about organic foods being too expensive and good, clean foods from local farmers at the farmers market costing too much. Well, it’s not really true for many reasons including our health costs, our subsidized AgBiz, our waste of 40% of all we grow in this country, and the hidden costs to us and our planet from all the chemicals used, transportation costs, etc. Now I may be talking to the choir here so I want to focus on how to do it instead of a discussion on any of the other side issues.

There was a time in my life when there were five children at home and one small income. My intent was to give my children the healthiest foods we could afford because we also had no healthcare. So I began by implementing a buying priority system for the family. Here was the question: What do we need to have to eat in order to be as healthy as possible? Where can I cut things out of the budget to save money? I’ll tackle the first question in this blog. Second question, next blog.

The order of the questions was vital to me, actually. How did I boil it down to the absolute necessities for strong bodies? We need vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and some dairy (or the equivalent). The best of each of these is whole and does not have an ingredient label, or the list is very short and doesn’t contain items we can’t understand or pronounce. This changes the grocery list, the menus I used, and the amount of money that is spent at the store.

First get it on sale!  I looked at all the grocery sales and only picked those things that fit into the whole plain foods category. Most grocery stores have sales on organic foods now, and list them. Organic has become so popular that they are found at the discount grocery stores as well. I went to three grocery stores almost every time I shopped Рand still do!

Buy in season! This means we are buying the freshest food for less. Last week, organic strawberries were 2/$5.00. Depending on which store you went to the container was either one pound or 1/2 pound…for the same price. I got enough to make a batch of jam which will last me for the rest of the year after giving half of the batch to my granddaughter since she helped me make it.

Put food by. Organic asparagus for $1.99 a pound? Freeze a pound or two. I’ve gotten local, free-range minimally processed whole chickens for $1.99/lb. And how much do you pay for cut up AgBiz chicken??? I can cut it up for that savings! After any big national holiday there are always sales of the ‘main meat’ – ham, turkey, roast beef, corned beef – get it then and eat a meal then freeze the rest in portions. We also spent years as vegetarians because meat is a big ticket item. It is also not essential to a good diet, which makes it a luxury item.

Make your menu from what is in season and on sale, not the other way around. Since I worked full time, I made an enormous meal on Saturday and another on Sunday. The left-overs from these two meals made new meals all week long. When you cook rice, potatoes, and/or pasta make enough for at least one more meal. Don’t get any prepared side dishes, they are very easy to make yourself.

Have meals be a time when the whole family gets together and participates. Kids learn to cook, Mom gets help, everyone gets to talk about their day or whatever is on their mind, and a loving community around food is born. Go to Slow Food events as a family. The movement that started in Italy has gone international and is a great resource for local good eats and finding a larger family type community around food.

Remove packaged snacks from the shopping list. Have a container of cut up fruits and another of veggies ready to go. Make popcorn. Have dried fruits and nuts on hand. Let the older kids make their own snacks out of peanut butter, coconut, dried fruits, and nuts. Roll them into balls and put them in the freezer.

And the last bit for today – have specific things for the kids (and grown-ups) to eat! Portion control is key to maintaining a good food budget and a slim waist line. Never allow ‘free foraging’ in the pantry or ‘fridge! Let your family know you have this for snacks and that for a meal. If s/he eats the food for a meal, don’t go buy more, make do and let them connect money with food with being responsible!

More on saving money while eating well next time! Chao!