Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy All-idays!

Wishing each and every one of you a joyful holiday, no matter what holiday you celebrate!

Peace on Earth, Good Will to All!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

In the bag

I'm a reusable bag junkie. I have big ones and small ones, colored and patterned ones, some for groceries and some for produce and mesh ones and cloth ones and recycled plastic ones. I probably own about twenty of them. And they rarely make it as far as my car, let alone the store.

Today, after stashing a bunch of bags in each of our two cars, I finally remembered to bring them into the store. I carefully chose three bags and two produce bags, knowing that I only needed a few things, so three bags would be plenty. But of course, I ended up buying more than I had intended. The grocery store happened to have holiday lights on sale, and we happen to need holiday lights, so I loaded my cart them. The three bags would work, but it would be a tight squeeze.

When I got to the checkout, I bagged my own groceries, as usual. I try to bag my own so that they're packed well, and to use the fewest number of bags possible. But today, I just wasn't fast enough. I bagged everything but the bread and eggs, intending to put them on the top of two of the bags, but the cashier grabbed them before I could. Into one plastic bag went to eggs, and into another went the bread. What the heck!? I'm pretty sure a loaf of bread can sit on top of a hard paper carton of eggs! I know this, because any other time I have had my groceries bagged for me at this store, that's exactly what the bagger has done. It's like he needed to make up for the reusable bags I brought today by using extra plastic.

It's a minor gripe, I know. Two bags rather than one, when most times I take all my groceries in plastic. But it's not just me - spend enough time on crunchy parenting boards, and you'll hear numerous stories of cashiers refusing to use cloth bags, of putting things in plastic bags before loading it into reusables, of customers handing the bag back to a cashier so it can be used by someone who needs it, only to see the cashier throw it away. The prevailing attitude - that reusable bags trendy, and make no real difference - is appalling. Plastic bags are epidemic. According to the EPA, in the United States over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are used each year. Worldwide, almost 1 million are used every minute.

To combat this, I'm making a promise. Starting today, I will load my reusable bags into my car each day. They'll stay in the front seat, where I will remember to use them. All of the plastic bags currently living in a wad in my kitchen cabinet will be reused for something, or recycled. I have been bringing home about close to 40 plastic bags every month, between groceries and other shopping trips. That's close to 500 bags every year - with holiday shopping it probably is 500. If I reduce my bag usage by just half (though I'll be aiming for no bag use, of course), and three more of you agree to cut your bag use in two, we can eliminate about 1000 plastic bags every year. Who will take up the cause with me?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Babes in the woods

I've always been an outdoor kind of girl. When I was a child, we had a black and white TV, and didn't get a VCR or video games until I was in junior high. My play time was spent outside, wandering around the neighborhood, making up games using sticks, rocks, and the few toys I had. I would run just for the feeling of running, search for interesting leaves and feathers and bugs, watch wild animals, and ride my bike until it became too dark to see.

It's always been important to me that my children learn to respect and enjoy nature and the outdoors. As an adult, a growing interest in backpacking and other outdoor sports solidified the importance of exposing my kids to the natural world. These days, so many children spend their leisure time in front of a television or computer, growing fat and unhealthy and disconnected from reality. People seem to live from house to car to mall to car to house, never stopping to feel the breeze on their cheek or to watch a flock of birds go by. People run from raindrops as if they will melt, and pass by beautiful flowers without a glance. Instead of climbing a hill to watch the sun set, they get on a treadmill at the climate controlled gym, with iPod or television blaring. They settle down onto their couches at night to watch the imaginary lives of others, rather than living their own.

I'm determined that my son will not squander his youth in front of the noisy box. He will know how wonderful it feels to hike through the woods, listening to the bird calls and the wind in the treetops. He will bate a hook to catch fish, jump in a leaf pile, climb a tree, and follow deer tracks across a snowy field. He will understand, through firsthand experience, the importance of preserving nature as it is, and limiting human encroachment. He will know our Mother for what she is, and hopefully feel the call to love Her and to care for the world She created.

NATURE, the gentlest mother,
Impatient of no child,
The feeblest or the waywardest,—
Her admonition mild
In forest and the hill
By traveller is heard,
Restraining rampant squirrel
Or too impetuous bird.
How fair her conversation,
A summer afternoon,—
Her household, her assembly;
And when the sun goes down
Her voice among the aisles
Incites the timid prayer
Of the minutest cricket,
The most unworthy flower.
When all the children sleep
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light her lamps;
Then, bending from the sky,
With infinite affection
And infiniter care,
Her golden finger on her lip,
Wills silence everywhere.

~ Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In which I go for broke

The festival season is upon us. All you Pagans out there know of what I speak: the circuit of art, dance, music, and religion fests that simply can't be missed. Entire campgrounds taken over completely by robed (and disrobed), henna-dyed, jewelry covered hippie types, frolicking over the fields and fens in all their tie-dyed and hemp bedizened glory. If you're a mid-Atlantic Pagan, you simply must attend a summer festival. My choice for this year is Starwood, the mother of all Pagan fests. Starwood is the east coast Burning Man, but with less dust and more love.

Not only is this my first Starwood, it's also my first camping trip of the year, and my first time going away with my 4-month-old. T (the husband), being the godless sort and not one for public nudity, will not be attending. Which brings me to the issue at hand - camping with an infant.

I've been a serious backpacker for a few years now. I own enough equipment for two backpackers to be comfortable at any time of the year. But can I attend Starwood with the equipment I have? Of course not. In order to have a comfortable and successful trip with the wee one, I need enough gear to fill a Babies R Us and a Cabela's. (Note to self: start up a new store, "Babies R Camping," and make a fortune off your first customer) New tent, camp chair, cooler, diapers for over a week, toys, stroller, carriers... You name it, I had to buy and/or pack it. And because I'm riding up with two friends - one of whom has a 19-month-old - space in the car is limited. I've been sorting the pile and sorting again, tossing back everything that I don't absolutely need for the trip. Guess who's things make up the majority of the toss back pile? Two guesses. If you guessed N (the babe), you're wrong. Because apparently a 15 pound person needs five times more camping gear than a 130 pound person does. Go figure.

So, the car seats were installed today (borrowed car), the gear will be packaged by Friday, and Saturday morning I make the long drive out to Brooklyn to pick up my friends, and then onto points unknown. A nice, simple, relaxed camping trip. Just me, N, and a mountain of large and expensive camping gear.

Gods help me...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A warning would have been nice

Why didn’t anyone warn me that I’d love you like this? That the sight of you sleeping would make me tear up, and that the sound of your cry would make my heart race. That no matter how much I love your father – an all-encompassing love, the kind that can rattle my whole world and take my breath away – that no matter how much I love him, that love would be like nothing compared to my love for you. Why didn’t anyone tell me that my arms would ache for you when we’re apart?

I became a new person the day we met. My love for you rose up like a wave and smashed so many of my fears, my insecurities, my shallowness. The day we met you took over my mind, but I did not “lose myself” as I had sometimes feared, in the darker moments of my pregnancy. I have lost nothing, but gained everything. Though I have always been a complete person, my completeness has solidified since meeting you. It has more texture now, more depth. Though you did not give my life purpose, you have made my purpose, and everything I do, so much more meaningful that I ever could have imagined life would be.

Sometimes, while you nap, I stand in front of a mirror and look at what has become of me, physically. I think about the fears of pregnancy – that I would get fat, that horrible stretch marks would form, that I’d never “get my body back”. As I look in the mirror I think back to that, and smile. If only someone could have told me then that I’d cherish the roundness my belly has now, and will likely always have. If only they could have warned me that I would still smile and caress that spot, your former home, even after you had vacated. I wish I could have known then, while you were safe and warm and protected inside me, that I would miss those days so much now.

Every day you grow and change, almost before my eyes. Each time I look at you, you are bigger and stronger and more like a little person, exploring the big and exciting world. Every day you become more like yourself, you draw away from me just a little bit more, and I know that this will continue until, someday, you will move away. And the thought of that day makes a hole grow in my chest – a bottomless pit of fear and sorrow and pride. Why didn’t anyone warn me?