Sunday, September 7, 2008

Can't do it...Can't go political with ya'll...

Don't get me wrong...I'll vote in the upcoming election. I hate politics...I hate politicians even more...however, I know I have a responsibility to become informed and cast my vote. I will do it...but I won't join anyone's campaign...I'll not be donating money to the whole ordeal...I won't be making witty/snarky/sarcastic/cynical comments against any political candidate(s) on this or anyone else's blog. I certainly won't be forwarding ridiculous and unfounded mass e-mails about any political candidates.

I got burned out on politics and the media during the campaign of 2000. The constant Gore won, Bush won, Gore won, Bush won flip-flopping crap pissed me off beyond comprehension. There was no call for it. If you don't know within 98% certainty who will win--shut up Mr. Media...

So as seldomly as I'm able to blog anymore...none of it will be about politics other than to say "Please vote however you believe to be right for you---but please, do vote."

What have I been up to then? Reading...Jane Eyre (forgot how good it was/is...really good) and Pride and Prejudice (still amazing how books can so far and away be better than the movies)...I've been working lots and surviving major uproars at work...and of course with it being so close to youngest is manic...right on cue. Also, we had to tear our garage down due to severe and irreparable safety we've been dealing with demolition and pouring of new concrete, etc.

Oh! And don't forget my extremely needy dogs...gosh I love those needy, wretched creatures! My Jack (Bichon Frise) has had another bout of moist dermatitis requiring a change in food, an addition of costly nutritional supplements, and the dreaded e-collar on top of having to drop him off every Saturday for the past 3 weeks at the vet so that she may administer a different vaccine each week and moniter him for any further side effects. My Finley (golden retriever/Bernese Mt dog mix) gifted us with a present last Thursday morning...we woke up to view his explosive fit of diarrhea in the kitchen... It's like friggin''ve all heard these 2 stories from me before! Anyways...on Wednesday I received some very upsetting news at/about work and was very the time I got home I was in no mood for hyper dogs or children. Both my "boys" seemed almost to sense my sadness and sat by me as good as gold as if to say "Mama--we love you...we'll be good, promise! We'll make you feel better!" And that they certainly did. me detailing these events, please don't think I'm bitching and moaning...I'm not. I'm just trying to be honest. Everything thus far--despite it's stressful nature--is turning out OK and in some cases very well. So on that note...I think I might go start another book...whatcha think Emma, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility...? I'm on a classical literature kick now...I love Jane Austen...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


While so many people in the "green blogger" world have been triumphing and sacrificing and doing without in the name of all that is environmental...I've been purchasing things...predominantly clothing/accessories...they haven't been wacky, senseless purchases, but they have still been purchases. You see, I'm struggling...unlike some--I work in a professional office environment. Currently "business casual" is acceptable attire, but they are piloting a new "business formal only" dress policy that could go office-wide/mandatory. For me, this would mean skirts, blouses, dress pants, and suit coats. We already have a strict policy requiring socks or pantyhose for women at all times. We are not allowed to wear cargo pants, capris, shorts, tank tops, flip flops or jeans. For the past 5 years I've been skimming by with the absolute bare minimum/loose interpretation of the dress code...but lately I've wanted to dress better--not more expensively--just better. I feel that for a long time I'd kind of given up on my appearance and now I'm starting to want to feel "put together" again. By no means, do I want to be all hair, nails and make-up...I just want people to take me seriously and feel good about my representing their company.

At the same time I don't want to be wasteful and a clothing whore. It's hard...I do not at all support the thought that someone should be judged by their appearance...and yet we are judging and being judged by our appearance everyday. I want people at work to ask for and value my opinion, but who wants to trust someone who is a total slob? And...following along the "dressing for success" conundrum...I've been hooked on watching What Not To Wear. I love to see the transformation of the participants and hear how the show has touched their hearts.

Well, I better head for bed now...I keep nodding off in front of my computer...I'll write more about all of this later! Ciao!!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

100 Thing Challenge...Really?...OMG...Ick...

This is quite possibly "old news" to many of you...but it is new to me and has really got me thinking about it over the past couple of weeks. Check it out:

Could you live--happily--with only 100 personal items for a year...or better yet for the rest of your life? It sounds like a lot of stuff. It sounds easy to do, but when you start adding up your stuff...well, that's another story. My husband is 100% certain that he could do it...and I believe him. Actually, he has done it before. When he moved to Oregon to help out his dad 7 or 8 years ago, he slept in a tent for 6 months and had far less things than that. My husband also has stricter standards for the 100 Thing Rules than I would. He views 1 pair of shoes as 1 thing. He views each dish as 1 thing....each book is one thing (which is just sadistic)...however I bet I could trip him up when it comes to tools...or maybe not...he's pretty darn good.

My interpretation of the rules is far more liberal. I think underwear (as a group) is 1 item...not 1 item per pair. I think 5 handbags should count as 1 item...3 pairs of shoes should be 1 item...5 books should be 1 item. While I love the look of a minimalist house and I love the idea of a simplified life, I'm still too attached to my stuff. So here I am back at square one...being attached to my stuff...Miss Consumer...Miss Materialistic.

Please don't misunderstand...I'm not "being too hard on myself"...and I know I'm not alone...many people are in the same boat as I a matter of fact, I think I'm in the boat with the majority of folks... But, this also reaffirms that I need to keep re-evaluating. I need to keep revisiting this topic until I get a better handle on it. I need to keep purging stuff.

The old saying "Less is more" is absolutely's true for wearing's true for eating potato chips and it's true for owning stuff...

Looks like I've got work to do...I better get to it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Holy King Corn, Batman!!!

So while I was out on sabbatical I rented the movie, King Corn. Has anyone else seen this movie? Wowie-zowie! It was jam-packed with information that I had never thought about/knew about before. It also made me a hard-core believer in pasture-raised/fed animals for my meat and dairy product purchases. I didn't realize how much corn had infected every facet of our lives!

**Spoiler alert...The most interesting and disturbing scene in the documentary was footage shot at the University of Iowa. Researchers are studying how corn affects cattle and they actually had this huge-ass cow in some sort of containment contraption and the guy stuck his hand through a big hole in the cow's side, reached into one of the cow's stomachs and pulled out some of the rotting food! My husband and I first saw it and looked at each other and said "That wasn't really a hole into the cow's stomach...nah, that'd be insane...", so we played it back two more times. After the first replay we said "Oh my g-d! That is a friggin' hole in the cow all the way to his stomach! Oh my g-d!" After the second replay we just sat there staring, mouths wide-open, noses wrinkled and saying "Ick...ew...yucky". This movie was the first time that I heard (from respected, legitimate researchers/scientists) that when cows eat corn, they quickly develop 'subacute acidosis'--a condition that causes them severe pain to the point that they kick at their bellies, go off the feed and will even eat dirt to try and stop it. And they endure all of this so that we can purchase our milk in mass quantity for low prices at our neighborhood "Big Box" chain stores!

However, I don't want to short-change this movie...there was SO much more to it than just feeding cows corn. It sheds light on how mucked up our government subsidies for farmers are and how corn is in EVERYTHING now pretty much by design and how this all just really took hold in the last 25 years. King Corn was enlightening, well-informed, well-made and thought-provoking. If you haven't seen it requires only about 90 minutes of your life and I highly doubt you'll regret it!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Where in the Hell have I been?

Ya know...around...I don't know what to say...I was getting caught up in the "How many people read my blog? How can I get more comments? What will really strike a chord with people?" thing and getting WAY too emotionally invested...and not in a good way. I was moving from 'trying to change my life in a positive way' to 'how friggin' popular can I be'...and that's not a healthy place for me to be. So I took a whole lotta months off...

Not to mention I lost my mind in the middle of a "Buy Nothing Challenge"...I went the opposite direction...I think I bought more that month than ever...and it kind of threw off my emotional center of gravity...(wow that sounds a little drama queenesque...) Anyways, I'm back...don't know if anyone will notice...I've been gone so long--I'm sure a few have given up and I don't blame them!

So I leave you with this thought provoking question: With the economy as downright sucky as it is--how does a person afford hormone/antibiotic free milk every week?...seriously, it's been buggin' me...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Zero Population Growth...

Say what? Oh yeah, I went there. This one is for my peeps (leslie, I'm winking at you!)...

So, ground rules and basic important statements:

  • I am not--in any way--telling people what they should/should not do.
  • I merely trying to foster an interesting and important discussion.
  • I am NOT an expert on this topic. I am posting my initial thoughts, but am positive that there will be many points which others think of that I have let me know what I miss.
  • I know many fantastic parents of larger families (with 4+ children)--I am in NO way saying that they shouldn't have had their kids. I am not criticizing them in any way. Again--this topic is to spur healthy discussion NOT to offend anyone.
  • I also know an increasing number of couples who have chosen not to have any children...and they are happy fulfilled individuals.
  • I absolutely welcome comments to this post, so feel free to join in the discussion as long as it is in a respectful manner.

What is Zero Population Growth?...Well, it has a longer explanation--but I'm condensing it down to the bare bones: Birth rate equals death rate. There are a lot of factors that make up or effect both of these rates. Education, economy, health care...are just a few of the many factors.

So why am I even mentioning the concept of zero population growth? You can only fit so many nails in a piece of wood before it splits into a bazillion splinters...the same concept is true of the Earth and how many people it can hold/sustain. In 1999, our planet passed the 6 BILLION person mark. By 2050, we are expected to top 9 billion...and China is NOT predicted to be the most populated country at that time! India is currently hot on China's heals and by that time is predicted to overtake China's population. Have you compared the land mass of China to that of India lately? Go do it right now...I'll really I have time...don't lie to didn't check...fine, but you're only hurting yourself by not looking it up... China is WAY larger than India...and India is going to be the most populous country? I don't mean to be an Alarmist Annie, but that doesn't sound like a good thing.

Let's start with the will we as a planet feed everyone? People are already starving to death...should we just add a couple more billion people then? This is a point of debate as many believe that we produce enough food on the planet to feed everyone--we just aren't able to get the food to the needy people due to politics, economy, etc. Regardless, no one can dispute the fact that people are starving everyday. Next...water...clean, potable water...where are we going to get it? In America and Canada we turn on our faucets and let it flow, but in Africa and other parts of the world--people travel miles to bring back drinkable/usable water every single day. Most of the Earth might be made up of water, but most of that water is salt water. Desalination is costly--not just monetarily but also due to the energy/resources it takes to desalinate the water. Third basic point--how do we dispose of the human waste? According to an article I read today on, handling waste and the public health issues of not properly handling waste is the biggest problem that we will face in rapidly growing urban areas in the developing world. This means a huge potential for the spread of disease. A fourth point would be the drain on resources worldwide...wood for furniture, metal for tools, coal/wood/whatever for cooking and heating, cotton/hemp for clothing, etc. More people means more drain on these resources...prices skyrocket...resources become scarce.

So what do we do to stop this runaway train? Well...some people think that zero population growth is the answer or at least part of the answer. That means birth control would need to be made accessible--possibly free--especially to the poor. It's not fair/right to say "no money for birth control, no sex" can't make having sex or having children a right exclusive to the rich. Education...if I've quoted School House Rock once, I've quoted it a thousand times "Knowledge is Power"! The old wives' tales need to be put to rest. You CAN get pregnant when you're breastfeeding. You CAN get pregnant the first time you have sex. Taking a bath immediately after sex will NOT keep you from getting pregnant...etc.

Now I'm really going into some touchy territory...maybe some people should choose not to have biological children at all... Many thousands of children all over the world are in orphanages and foster care...they need parents...they need protection, love, care, education...basically they need a real chance at survival. A man I work with just became a first-time grandparent when his son and daughter-in-law traveled to Vietnam to adopt a beautiful baby girl...not because they couldn't have biological children, but because they felt it was the right choice for them to adopt. Step-parenting is another way to become a parent...My husband is not my daughters' "biological father", but he is EVERY bit their father. He gets upset when anyone dares to mention that they "aren't his real kids". He and I have chosen not to have biological children together, but he doesn't feel as if he is "missing out" on anything. He is just as much of a parent as I fact, sometimes he is a far better one! Other people may choose not to become parents at all--and that is perfectly acceptable too! Although having a child can be wonderful--it is not for everyone. I highly respect those people who are honest enough to say "No, I don't think becoming a parent is right for me" for whatever reason.

I'm sure that I'm missing a whole bunch of good points and great information that should have made it into this post...I've been ruminating over this topic and trying to get this post written for almost a week now...finally, I just sat down and pounded out what was in the forefront of my brain...After re-reading what I've written, I now realize that I've almost exclusively addressed controlling the birth rate and really haven't touched on the death rate at all. The two need to be equal to achieve zero population growth. However, I do not advocate war, mass killings, fatal epidemics, smoking or poor health that pretty much leaves me with the concept of controlling the birth rate as it (in my mind) is by far the most humane option.

Well, am I just some wacko nut case with a weird birth control fetish?...Does any of this make sense to anyone besides myself?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Klean Kanteen Wrap-up

Yeah, I know everyone's tired of hearing about this...but it's bugging me--big time. I sent a follow-up e-mail to Klean Kanteen to ask them if the potential steel fragments they mentioned in their previous e-mail to me would cause any health risks. This is their reply:

The stainless on stainless friction may lead to a small amount of stainless residue getting into your beverage after a prolonged period of time. We have done testing of screwing and unscrewing the caps thousands of times on a dry bottle, and didn’t find any residue at the bottom of the bottle. This was basically just a precaution that we made because we had a large customer of ours point out this possibility to us.

The polypropylene on stainless will not cause the same type of friction as the plastic is more forgiving and won’t break apart like the stainless might.

I don't really know what to make of all of this...they did plenty of testing and never had a problem...which leads me to believe that this was primarily a cost cutting measure that they readily adopted when they thought they had a good enough reason to...

I know that some people are able to buy the lids and the bottles separately, but the only way I'm able to buy Klean Kanteens in my area is via the internet. The bottle comes directly from the company's website now with an all plastic cap--you have to PAY EXTRA for a stainless steel & plastic cap if you don't want the plastic touching your drink. Prior to January of this year, the Kanteens came with a stainless steel cap at no extra charge. Well, I'll shut up about this now...I know after 3 posts about it, people must be tired of it. I just hate to see a good product that I used and a company I respected...go down this path.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's true...maybe I'm not quite so crazy as I originally thought...

A couple of posts ago, I asked if anyone else had noticed that Klean Kanteen had switched from stainless steel (with a little bit of plastic) caps to all polypropylene (fancy plastic) caps...although no one responded in the affirmative at that time, I e-mailed the company to inquire about it.

Guess what? I wasn't crazy nor was I making up's true. I received a reply from the company today. Here it is:

Thank You for your email and your support of Klean Kanteen!

This all polypropylene cap change was made on Jan. 1st for 3 different reasons:

1) The continual rising costs of stainless steel, and our desire to keep our bottle prices at the current price levels. This change keeps our cap prices down and allows us to do this.
2) The stainless on stainless threading of our bottles and caps. Many customers have voiced concern that over time small amounts of stainless residue are getting into their drinks from the screwing and unscrewing of these caps.
3) The noise that is made from the screwing and unscrewing of the stainless caps. This is not a big concern of ours, but customers do complain about it.

If you have any further questions please contact me via the info below.

Chris Carlson
Awareness Representative

One planet, one you! pondering point #2 from the letter above...has anyone else encountered this? Does anyone have knowledge of stainless steel that could address this theory? I had already guessed prior to receiving the response that financial reasons were coming into play here... The noise of the lid never really bothered me... But I find the whole "small amounts of stainless steel residue" to be very curious...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More thoughts on water...

If you didn't catch it yet today (and you probably already have)...No Impact Man had a post on the "water issue". You can read it here:

I highly recommend reading the comments on his post as well. Sharon from Casaubon's Book posted a very intelligent idea about people implementing composting toilets instead of eliminating our waste into water that is eventually turned back into drinking water.

Let me be clear that I'm not advocating anyone stop taking their necessary medications. My daughters will not be stopping their meds anytime soon. However...(and don't you just love 'howevers'?)...a lot of the pharmaceuticals found in the water supply were not even prescription medications. Caffeine, ibuprofen (aka Advil/Motrin, etc.) and acetaminophen (aka Tylenol, etc.) are over-the-counter meds that you can buy at any supermarket, pharmacy and convenience store. And what about the antibiotics that were found? And the hormones from birth control pills that were found in the water supply? Are those 100% necessary pharmaceuticals?...yes and no. We definitely need antibiotics to fight bacterial infections and birth control for obvious reasons...but I think we can all agree that antibiotics are prescribed/used FAR more often than they need to be or should be. And...there are other good options for birth control as well.

So, I guess what I'm saying is: Do we really need to pop a pill for every little ache or pain? And isn't it a medical fact that antibiotics are meant for bacterial infections not viruses? Do we really need to have 5 cups of coffee...or are 2 cups sufficient? Do we need the venti, ultra-mega-huge cup or is the standard 8 oz. cup that our grandparents used sufficient? With the explosion of coffee houses, fast food restaurants (that offer soda more readily than water) and energy drinks (which are almost entirely caffeine and high fructose corn syrup)...we have made the consumption of caffeine our new national past time!

In my mind, it all goes back to the same thing...moderation, moderation, moderation. I do not need to drink 4 Mountain Dews a day! I like my caffeine as well as the next person...believe me...I do. But maybe I need to re-think my caffeine consumption... I will still use pain relievers for severe headaches, but maybe I need to re-think what constitutes a severe headache...

Between the oceans full of plastic debris and the country's water system full of trace amounts of is time to re-think what we are doing...on every every facet of our lives. That's it...that's my new mantra. It just hit me like a ton of bricks as I typed it. My own little "epiphany"...

It is time to re-think what we are doing...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Did anyone else catch this?...

Prescription drugs in our drinking water? Really? Yuck! And...I noticed from the map linked to the article that this applies to MY state specifically. Double yuck! My area is not as bad as some of the others, but it just makes me think "Dude, what the hell have we done?" We are paying the price for our past thoughtless actions...not cool...

AND...did anyone else notice on the Klean Kanteen website that they have started selling their water bottles with all-plastic caps and are charging EXTRA for stainless steel caps now? When did that happen? That is not cool. I have had such high respect for their I'm kind of thrown for a loop. Why backtrack like that? I sent them an e-mail inquiring as to why they chose to do this. If/when I get a response...I'll post it here.

This is not ducky folks...not ducky at all...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Honey, I'm home!...

Where the heck have I been? Oh, you know...around...(manic child got a 3 day out-of-school suspension...I had to meet with the admin of her school and take her to far more doctor's/counseling appointments than I'd like to...honestly)...but I won't bore you with the details...and you know what the "kicker" in all of this is? I had just signed up for a Stress Less Challenge on Chile Chews blog! That actually made me have to enjoy the humor of these kinds of things!

However, never being one to pass up a double meaning...I found a very interesting local grower/supplier of honey! It was started and is still run by two cardiologists who work at the same medical center that I do. They are married to each other and have 3 children. Each of the children is responsible for their own wildflower garden in different areas around town and each garden is unique...therefore making the batches of honey different. Not only do they sell honey, but they also make lotions and some amazing smelling soap using the honey. As a matter of fact, I always used to stop and smell the soap (don't judge me) when I was in the "organic" section of my local market...but I never bought it because I thought it was probably trucked in from California or China or Mexico...someplace far, far away...if I would have stopped long enough to investigate it, I would have found out that it is made right here in Minnesota! If you want to check out their website (and see some beautiful pictures of their wildflower gardens):

So you know what this means...I can buy the soap from now on and the honey! It's all very cool.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Make your own laundry detergent...I do!

I've been making my own laundry detergent for almost a year now. I don't even know how or why I started exactly...I'm pretty sure it had something to do with hearing that it was better for the environment. When I realized that it would save me oodles of money I was sold on it. I used to pay $15 for a huge bottle of Cheer every 2-3 weeks. Now I spend approximately $11 every 3-4 months...pretty darn exciting even if I do say so myself!

I found several recipes out on the internet, so I took the main ingredients found in most of them and came up with this:

1 cup grated Fels Naptha
1/2 cup Washing Soda--not to be confused with Baking Soda which is different and should not be substituted.
1/2 cup Borax
1/4 cup Oxy Clean Crystals/Powder (totally optional)

I mix it all together in a container and use 2 Tablespoons per large load of laundry (1 Tablespoon for a medium or small load, which is far less guilt or pressure here...). I only wash in cold water, so I put the homemade laundry detergent in first and run the water a little to dissolve it a bit.

I typically make it up in bigger batches than what I listed though. Honestly, I take the recipe times 7 and make a big batch all at once. It doesn't have an overpowering smell at all. The clothes come out smelling clean...that's about it. I haven't noticed any fading of colors to speak of...I don't find myself re-washing any clothes. I'm able to find all of these "ingredients" at my local grocery store...if you can't, I can let you know what the ISBN numbers are and you could see if they'd order them for you.

I've given samples to my mom, sister and mother-in-law. They all think it works great. My mother-in-law even went so far as to bundle it up in cute cloth packages and now sells it at her local grower's market alongside her famous homemade fudge. And I'm not bitter at all that she is making money off my detergent recipe while I'm not allowed to know her fudge recipe...not bitter at all...nope not me...I'm very grateful to have shared with her while not even receiving one shred of acknowledgement for giving the recipe to her...I'm completely at peace with the whole issue...(may the "secret ingredient" in her beloved fudge be the first fatality of food shortages and global warming)...just call me Ms. Zen...I'm so happy for her!

Anyways, so I figure if I can make the stuff up and religiously use it for a whole year...then anyone can do it. I don't have a creative, artsy fartsy bone in my body... Buttering bread is serious cooking as far as I'm concerned and vacuuming (just the living room) is considered "cleaning all day" me--anyone can handle this one.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bright Spot for the Winter Time Blues

Even up here in Minnesota where it is so stinkin' cold your thermometer breaks...we have a winter farmer's market. It only runs from 9-Noon on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month, but at least we have one! I shamefully admit that I had never been to it until this morning. I didn't know what to expect from it (nothing grows in the snow/ice) but was pleasantly surprised. It is THE place to buy your organic beef, pork, lamb and chicken if you are of the meat-eating persuasion. They of course had local free range eggs, local honey, apples, potatoes, onions, garlic, jams/jellies, baked goods and cheese. My family picked up some eggs, ground beef and bacon.

On the way home from the farmer's market we stopped by our local market and picked up...for the first time ever...milk in a glass bottle. I know...I know...I'm behind the rest of the class on this one...everyone else is already doing it...but I haven't been. I've been buying local milk in a plastic jug... But better late than never, right? I can't wait to try it! I hope it's super yummy...(cough)...oh by the's chocolate milk...(cough, cough)....

Anyways, this excursion was a much needed bright spot in the dim happenings of our home life lately...things with my youngest have escalated to gigantic proportions, much of which I have not touched on here. Folks, it's been I cried for 3 hours straight yesterday bad.

So thank goodness that this was the first Saturday of the month so that we could go to the farmer's market! And thank goodness that my husband remembered and recommended it! I had totally forgotten about it. I can't wait to go again. It has even got my husband and I talking about buying 1/4 or 1/2 a side of beef from our favorite seller at the market. That would be wonderful...hopefully we can turn this idea into reality. That would be super cool.

What have you all been up to? Sit down and let's chat awhile... We've got a lot of catching up to do...and you look fabulous, by the way...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

In the Belly of the Beast...

I'd like to talk about environmental issues...I really would. That would be a much needed vacation for me right now. I can't though...not yet...youngest daughter is in the middle of a really bad manic episode. At some point, someone is going to read this blog and think "Does this woman do anything other than bitch and moan?" All I can say is--If you have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or some psychiatric diagnosis along those lines...or if someone close to you that you love has such a diagnosis...then you understand. If your life has been so "lucky" to have not been affected by psychiatric illness in some thankful...go read the fabulous eco-warrior blogs out there and fight the good fight for me.

My youngest is hearing voices/noises again...ones that aren't real. It's happened before during manic episodes, but it frightens me each time I hear that it is happening. We've just about maxed out our pharmaceutical options...that means we might be headed for another stay in the hospital. She'll turn 12 years old in under two weeks. School isn't going well for her...teachers are getting tired of "dealing with her". I'm getting fatigued...very fatigued...which I'm sure is nothing in comparison to what she is feeling...

On a happier sister is doing well. She had a mastectomy a couple of days ago as I noted in an earlier post...but she is recovering...and that is a very good thing.

Another happy thought...I discovered that a lady I work fairly closely with is becoming more and more interested in environmental issues. She is interested in hearing/talking about recycling, getting rid of plastic bags/water bottles, composting and sustainable living. It is nice to be able to have an actual conversation...face to face with someone about challenges me and forces me to be "up to speed" with various eco-friendly concepts.

I'm gonna cut this short and go get some sleep. It is the best thing I can do when I feel like I'm living in the belly of the beast. Happier times are ahead folks...before you know it, I'll be just ducky again.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Yin and Yang...

When my youngest daughter was just old enough to hold a crayon and draw recognizable pictures, she started drawing yin-yang symbols. She's always loved them. I'm not really sure where it all started...I don't have any hung up in our home...I can't think of where she would have been exposed to them, but as far back as I can remember in her lifetime--she's always loved the concept and visual symbol of yin-yang. It's very intriguing to me because of her bipolar. With the mania and the depression...she's known from a very young age--intuitively--what she needs...what she is striving for...balance.

On the flip side...or at least on a different of my sisters is having a mastectomy tomorrow. She has spent the last 14 years trying to mold herself, her spouse and her children into "the All-American family". I can't fault her for wanting to be "normal"...for striving so hard to be "A good, normal, religious, hard working family". My life has not been "typical" for 15+ I gave up that thought years ago. I've moved into acceptance and appreciation. Just over 6 years ago, the universe threw my sister a curve ball and she had an imperfect child. My niece has Rett Syndrome which renders her unable to speak, not very cognitively advanced, and not currently toilet-trained (nor do we know if she will ever be). Rett Syndrome falls under the umbrella of Autistic Disorders. My sister spent the first 4 years denying that there was a problem with my niece--when EVERYONE told her to take her to the doctor. She's spent the last 2 years trying every homeopathic and dietary option under the sun to try and "cure" no avail. Please understand--my niece is one of the lights of my life. She is awesome...I'm just sad she hasn't gotten the medical help/occupational therapy that she needs. Then last August, my sister was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 39. She (like many moms) has always put herself/her health last. Even now...when she is about to have major surgery...she is making absolutely sure that the kids will not miss one dance practice, Girl Scout event or driver's education lesson. No one will miss a church service. No one will eat meat on Friday. She, being a lifelong pack rat, is racing around her house trying to make it "presentable" because my other two sisters are coming to stay at her house to take care of her during her recovery. We've all offered to help her...she refuses...we've all told her we don't care about the clutter...she brushes us off. She wants to be entirely self-sufficient and never, ever need/ask for help. She rushed around so much she fell down the stairs and majorly hosed up her knee. I saw her today and was mortified. She looks like death warmed over. None of her chemo took a toll on her like the stress of rushing around has taken a toll on her. I made her promise me that she'd take a nap. She told me "I haven't thought about myself in 2 months." My reply "You better start right now. You are the glue that holds your family together. If you aren't around...they'll fall apart." Again, please understand, I'm not judging my sister. I love her. And I know that everyone needs to make their own choices and follow their own path. But it is quite evident that she is headed down a destructive path. It's not an obvious one like drugs, alcoholism, excessive gambling...but she's hurting herself still the same. She has made the outward appearance of normalcy more important than health and well-being. She is willing to sacrifice her health and her family's health for social reputation. Every conversation I have with her includes what she "needs" to do so that she can please people in her community, church, in-laws, friends, teachers. When my niece bit the teacher's aide at school, the school wanted her to have my niece tested for AIDS. It is a common request because she broke the woman's skin. But my sister didn't want to have the test done because she was afraid that it might be resulted as a false positive and she and her husband donate blood in the community. She didn't want people to treat them differently IF a false positive were to show up as the result. There was no concern over my niece's health or the woman's health...just the possibility of people treating her differently. Ever since her cancer diagnosis my sister has been dwelling on "what she did wrong to deserve God's punishment"...WTF? I told her that I don't look at it as God's punishment. I look at it as a learning experience. It is one of the things necessary in your/your family's life to make you who you are supposed to be. It sucks...not doubt about that...but it's not "punishment"...

So why bring up both of these stories? I'm not sure...maybe it is the dichotomy between the two. One person striving for balance...the other person striving for a facade that keeps crumbling down around her. What is normal? Can we afford to be normal anymore? I've been treated "differently" for so long now...I can't even conceive of what normal looks like. Ever since I turned 18 I've chosen atypical paths...regretted it sometimes, appreciated it others, and had life throw a lot of curve balls at me. To me though, the key is balance. It's not "Are you appearing normal? Do you fit in?". It is "Is your life balanced? Are you feeling or striving for harmony?" I swear...the older I get...the more I feel like the stereotypical hippy. Peace and love...we just need peace and love...accept who you are and where you are accepting of others...appreciate the atypical...learn to love the kind to each other and to the earth... Don't worry--I promise I'm NOT smoking weed or dropping acid... Oh, and I'm still philosophically opposed to tie-dye...but I do have a mini-van which is sorta like a VW bus, right?

You know...I originally intended for this post to go in a different direction...somehow it just ended up like it is. I was going to be charmingly would laugh and make equally witty comments...and somehow I ended up waxing philosophical and throwing everyone--including myself--for a loop. Maybe I'll save the original idea for tomorrow. I won't force it. Whatever happens, happens. In the end...whatever is left will be just ducky I'm sure...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Semper paratus...

This post might end up being "too much information" for some people...I don't care...It's super funny and mildly humiliating to me. I have the ability--at any given time--to make a complete fool of myself. I'm so good at this, that I've made it into a virtual art form.

First, the back story...a few months ago I was sitting at my desk at work when I started to get up to go get something to drink. While getting up I accidentally stepped on the leg/wheel of my chair and started falling. I tried to catch my footing--repeatedly--but ended up on the ground laughing my ass off 2 desks away. This was like a scene out of a movie--but it was real. The "best" part was...I peed my pants when I fell. Yup, I did. I peed. It wasn't a huge sloppy mess or was just enough to be soggy and uncomfortable the rest of the day. No one knew I peed my pants--black pants are awesome, but at least a couple of people saw me fall and we were all laughing hysterically.

No one ever told me, prior to having children, that my bladder/urethra would be hosed for life after childbirth. It's like some twisted form of hazing...women keeping this knowledge away from those who have never given birth...but completely willing to talk about it amongst themselves after having children. A sneeze, fall/trip or cough--and you pee. The only way around it is to squeeze your legs together so hard you could put a professional wrestler to shame.

And that wasn't the first fall and pee experience I've had...It's happened at least 4 times in the past 7 years. You see--I'm clumsy. My mind moves faster than my feet. My favorite/most memorable experience was when I was walking out of Best Buy last year. The pavement dips a little right outside the store and I wasn't paying attention to where I was minute I was walking and in a split second I was lying on the ground...I'm not a potty-mouth kind of wouldn't know it from reading this blog...but I don't swear at home (unless the kids are asleep/gone) or at work at all...for some strange reason though when I fell this time--a very loud, prolonged "FUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK!" came out of my mouth. When I looked up the first thing I saw was a little 5 or 6 year old girl staring at me. I then heard her father say "Are you OK?"...I looked right at him and all I could say was "I'm so sorry I swore." He, being a very nice person, said "Don't worry about it--Are you OK?" I was super duper embarrassed...all I kept saying over and over was "I'm so sorry I swore. I'm so sorry I swore." I quickly got up and fast-walked to my minivan.

Fast forward to this past husband and I work in the same building (different divisions) and we drive to work together everyday. My husband had parked and we had gotten out of the car to walk through the parking lot when I hit a patch of ice and just about did the splits. As always, a couple of people saw me. Although I didn't actually fall on the ground, I peed. As we continued walking into the building, I whispered "I peed." to my husband who is fully aware of my pee history. He said "Oh no!" Still embarrassed but yet a little smugly I told him "Don't worry. I have my back up undies in my file cabinet." What? Did I just admit that I keep a back up pair of underwear in my file cabinet?....Yup. After the first time I had to work all day with a soggy bottom, I decided to keep a pair of underwear wrapped up in a plastic bag hidden in the very back of my file cabinet for just such an occasion as this.

My husband gave a sigh of relief and I went immediately to my file cabinet and retrieved my "back up undies". I went to the bathroom, got in the stall, started taking off my pants when I realized things were far worse than I'd thought. Not only did I pee...I ripped my pants. This is something I had not prepared for...I've never ripped my pants in public before. So, I changed underoos, put my ripped pants back on and went back to my desk. I took a look at my calendar and said to myself "Screw it. I'm working until noon and then going home." The rip was fortunately contained to an area that was not visible to the world, however if it continued to rip any further--it would expose my peach colored undies. Considering I'm not an exhibitionist--I decided this was fate telling me to throw the towel in and enjoy the first fairly warm day we've had in over a month--far away from work.

So why did I decide to share all of this with the blogosphere? Well, it's just plain humorous. For a grown adult of fairly sane mind and healthy body to fall/pee that many times in a 7 year span must be some kind of world's record. And may I add--when I told of couple of co-workers (women) about my back up underoos they were jealous. Both of them thought it was genius and one of them told me she was going to do the same thing. Finally, it just goes to show that no matter how much you prepare for in life--life has a way of throwing you a curve ball that says "Nope. You weren't ready for this one, were you?" No matter how much we plan, calculate, store, prepare, study or communicate--life happens on its own terms regardless of your preparation. And when it better take it in stride or you'll end up one stressed out, frazzled individual. I consider myself fortunate...I got to take a 1/2 day off of work to enjoy the sun...and though I wasn't prepared for what life had in store for me...everything turned out just ducky.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Great Hurdle...

One of the greatest hurdles I've run up against--within myself and with others--on the road to becoming an eco-warrior is the phrase "I don't want to". That phrase can bring a fantastic idea to a screeching halt in a moments notice. It can vaporize even the best of intentions. How do you contend with that? How can a person clear that hurdle?

Just for fun let us run through a scenario to illustrate my point...for the sake of keeping me humble, I will illustrate an internal conversation I've had before....
(Setting: Dairy Aisle in Grocery Store)
Rational Self: You shouldn't buy the individual servings of yogurt. They are a huge waste of packaging and you know it is a pain in the butt to try and get the containers recycled. You always just end up throwing them away...(quietly and trailing off)...loser.
Stupid Self: I need my yogurt fix...What are you the yogurt police now? So what brilliant alternatives are you proposing then?
Rational Self: Well, you could buy the really big container and dish out individual servings...or you could make your own yogurt at home.
Stupid Self: Dishing out individual servings of yogurt is time-consuming as well as impractical for my hectic schedule and then you also run into the disgusting possibility that grubby little children have eaten directly out of the container. Making your own yogurt limits your flavor variety...I'd like to see you try and make Apricot/Mango or Pina Colada at home...Don't restrict my flavors, man!
Rational Self: If you make your own yogurt you can control the ingredients. That's always a bonus!
Stupid Self: I'm not taking out a second mortgage so you can buy organic milk for your precious homemade yogurt.
Rational Self: You know it's the right thing to do...
Stupid Self: But I don't want to.
Rational Self: You want to kill the earth and all the animal life on it? You want to make the landfills explode at the seems with all of your stupid yogurt containers?
Stupid Self: No.
Rational Self: Then put the friggin' individual serving yogurt containers back on the shelf, dumb ass.
Stupid Self: Nope. Don't want to.
Rational Self: Come on! What's your problem? Just do it already... Stop being a jerk.
Stupid Self: Look...I don't want to give up my yogurt...can we just move on? Lets just agree to disagree. We're buying the yogurt...
Rational Self: Put it back you selfish, earth-killing pig!
Stupid Self: (Laughing at Rational Self) Did you just call me an earth-killing pig? Dude, wouldn't that be seeing a giant pig taking a big bite out of the earth...chomp, chomp!
Rational Self: You are the most immature person I've ever met...just try making your own yogurt...just once...if you hate it, you can go back to buying the ridiculously wasteful individual portions....OK?
Stupid Self: Nope. Don't want to. End of story.

Now do you all see what I deal with on a daily basis? Talking to myself, lack of discipline, lack of motivation, lack of energy...I'm seeing a pattern here...I seem to be rather "lacking" don't I?....

Granted, there are some things that we really shouldn't cut out of our lives--even if we are trying to become eco-warriors. Medications that are necessary for our physical and mental well-being are non-negotiable. Adequate medical and dental care overall is something that we should not give up just for the sake of our desire to be eco-friendly. While I absolutely believe we should push hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, medical goods companies and drug companies to develop ecologically friendly products and services, our current health and safety is just as important.

But outside of that--why do we hold on to so much crap? Why is it so hard to give up certain things or pay more for "greener" alternatives? Why can't we do these things that are better for us and for the environment? When it comes to sacrificing certain beloved products...why don't we want to try?

I'm sure there is some wonderful philosophical explanation...and that's what I'm NOT looking for...I'm looking for the thing I can say or do to attempt to change the "I don't want to" into the "Yeah, I guess I could try it."

Any ideas?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Can I resign from being a parent?

What? I can't? Read the small print? Dude! But I didn't know it was going to be like this...

I told my husband that one phrase sums up our evening with the is from the movie, Dodgeball..."If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a dodgeball." And we've been dodging wrenches all night...

I're thinking I'm a whiner...complain, complain, complain is all I ever do...but dude...this is my's my only place to vent!

Necessary background info: Pediatric Bipolar Disorder has only been recognized as being valid and therefore truly studied for the past 10-15 years. And really, no drug other than Lithium has been seriously followed/researched/documented in children. The down side to Lithium-it has to be monitored closely so that it doesn't reach toxic levels, which in turn means several blood draws for the patient. Knowing this information, it naturally follows that 1) the school system hasn't knowingly dealt with a lot of bipolar students and therefore hasn't learned quite how to help these students like they could/should 2) Any medication prescribed for Pediatric Bipolar--other than Lithium--is considered experimental which means you are trudging through unknown territory.

Fast forward to present day/my life: Last week I met with my younger daughter's teachers in an attempt to get her more of the help that she needs. While the teachers seemed fairly receptive, they are unskilled in dealing with psychiatric illness and therefore make her feel singled out and condescended to with their attempts to help her. "Little" things like saying "Your mom said your bipolar makes you forgetful" instantly piss her off. I don't blame her. She feels as if anyone--regardless of medical condition--would feel the same way she does in her circumstances, so when they add "your bipolar disorder causes this" she feels as if she is different from everyone else. Well, in a way she is and in a way she isn't. Not everyone has a mood disorder, but I also can't think of anyone who likes to be told "You're doing this because of your (insert medical condition here)." To make a long story short--she hates the changes they have implemented and she ranted/cried/incessantly harped about it from the time I got home from work until the time she went to bed...seriously...that's over 4 hours. I tried my best to change topics, address her concerns, stop the freight train...but she wasn't having any of it. I ended up having to give her an extra dose of meds (written in her prescription/OK'd by doctor) because she was so agitated. Everything set her off--a sigh, a questionable tone of voice, a delayed response--it all pissed her off tonight.

My oldest daughter came home from her school musical practice and was severely ticked because...well normal angst-ridden teen feelings of inadequacy. She actually tried to tell me at 8pm that she was taking a shower and THEN was going to start her 5 paragraph essay that is due tomorrow...WHAT? No, no ,no...homework first, then shower if there's time. Oh boy! That set her off into a drama queen tirade full of tears and which Mom responded "Tough crap. Write your essay."

Throw in a husband who had class tonight (evening classes to finish up his degree) and then came home and took a nap...and 2 puppies that wanted to eat my couch...Am I overreacting or do I have some right to be frazzled?

This of course then leads in to my own personal dilemma...when I have Mood Disorder Central for a home where crises always abound and a full-time job outside of the home--how do you add things like global warming, peak oil, presidential elections and eating locally to the mix? Right now, I just want to rip open a plastic-wrapper encased non-sustainable Snickers bar and chow down! I want to get in my pollution-causing car and drive far, far away... I want to accept the plastic bag from the store in case I decide to stick it over my head! I don't want to research which candidate to vote for because none of them are in my home tonight dealing with my life...

So what do I do instead? I hang on with my last, very frazzled nerve until the kids are in bed. I put the dogs in their kennel. I leave my Guitar Hero husband in the living room to rock like nobody has ever rocked before...I sit down at the computer and I vent to the a few minutes I'll go to sleep and when I wake up, tonight will have turned into a distant memory. I won't have contributed positively to the world like Crunchy's reusable pad drive...I won't have figured out who to vote for...I won't have made any further steps in the eco-friendly department. On the flip side--No one died/my family is safe. I have food in the cupboard, shelter, and even if I don't always feel it--love.

No, I'm not going to resign...even if my contract would let me... There is an old Japanese proverb that says: Fall seven times. Stand up eight.
It is my mantra. Of course, I will keep on moving forward. Of course, things will look better in the morning. Of course, things will be just ducky again.

Wow! That was cathartic...we should do this again are such a great listener!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hemorrhaging money...

Also known as "how the marketing bastards of the world are sucking the life out of us"...Catchy title, huh? Oh, how my sarcastic wit attempts to rear its ugly head again...

Well tonight is yet another formal dance at my daughter's high school. When I was in high school (and walked uphill both ways), we had one formal dance every year--prom. Fast forward 17 years and now they have 3--yes, 3--FORMAL dances. This means fancy schmancy dresses, glittery makeup, high heels...the works. The whole idea makes me ill. Whose idea was this? And how in less than 2 decades did we as a society go from spending a little too much money in high school to spending a ridiculously large amount of money in high school? And you KNOW there are a group of parents who shell out the money for a new dress each and every time. This would not be me. I told my daughter flat out that I would not be buying her 3 new satin and sequin dresses every year--times 4 years. My rule is that I will buy one dress per year and one pair of dressy shoes if necessary--but I will not spend over $100 total. Anything more than that and she will have to cover it with her own money. We got super duper lucky when shopping for Homecoming. We found a beautiful yet modest dress that is very versatile and can be worn for various events for only $40. It happens to be the dress that she is wearing tonight as well. I did her hair and make-up myself--there is no way I'm paying for that like some parents do. I'm grateful that she was happy despite my "dress purchasing" rule... I told her that she and her friends should swap dresses with some of the older high schoolers or check second hand stores if they don't want to wear the same dress twice. But tonight she was happy with the dress she wore to homecoming, and that makes me feel very relieved. Hopefully no one will tease her about wearing the same dress twice. High schoolers, debutantes and celebrities are the only people who do that. If I was at an event and saw that someone was wearing the same dress that they had worn to a previous event (and I'd surely be wearing something they'd seen before too), I really wouldn't care...if anything, I'd be glad that they didn't feel the need to drop more cash on something so trivial.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of money...yearbooks are approximately $65, school musical costume fees are $20, gym uniforms are $20, tickets to school functions $5 (each time you go)---and don't let me forget the younger daughter...$40 for the Girl Scout sleep over at the zoo, $20 for the gym uniform, $15 for the Girl Scout lock-in, $7 for the class lunch at the mall food court and $20 for the class ski trip which they happen to do during school hours so that if you choose not to spend the money and send your kid on the trip--you become labeled the bad parent and your kid has to sit in a room at school and watch Disney movies all that day.

Oh! Don't let me forget--school pictures twice a year! When did they start doing pictures twice a year? Shouldn't that be the parents' choice to get their children's picture taken a second time? Don't let me forget to mention that both my daughters are required to purchase and wear school IDs for $5 every year. And they go to public school! We are not talking about private school here...this is strictly public school...

On top of all of the school costs, we have very high medical expenses for both daughters. Please don't think that I'm one of those pill-pushing mothers. I'm not. But my children both have documented psychiatric illnesses that require medication. No, there is no magic, secret, long-forgotten herbal cure. No, it cannot be remedied by ingesting exotic fruits, eliminating white flour and sugar, acupuncture, enemas or aromatherapy. My mother still tries to come up with miracle cures for them. Last time it was rubbing cedar oil on the bottoms of their feet. WTF??? Luckily, I have great insurance which helps enormously. I cannot imagine what would have happened to my children had we not had insurance. Thousands of people live that reality every day and it's sad/scary. However, even with great insurance their medication still costs us approximately $225 per month out of pocket. So you know those drug companies are making money hand over fist, which I find deplorable.

When did having children shift from "necessary to survival (I'm thinking pioneer days here)" to "so expensive you may very well not make it without being severely in debt or be accused of short-changing them"? Did I sleep through that change? I've heard news stories that say this generation of kids will be the first that have a worse life financially than their parents. I hate to say it, but I believe it. If you go in debt trying to give your kids the kind of life you think they deserve--all the while keeping up with the Joneses kids--how could they not go further in debt trying to maintain the life you've set them up for? Stop the madness folks. Just stop it. Get off the merry-go-round. Say "no". It sucks. I hate saying "no" when my kids want to do stuff. But, I can't feed them the lie that keeping up with other peoples' consumerism brings happiness or is ethical. We are staring peak oil and global warming in the face and 3 new sequined dresses per year is just plain wrong. And to quote my beloved Dave Matthews "It's not where but who you're with that really matters." Money does enable people to do some wonderful things. I'd be lying if I were to say otherwise. A new Jaguar, 8 bedroom house, Chanel handbag, diamond necklace, trip to Barbados--yeah, they'd bring some temporary joy...absolutely. However, at the end of the day I need someone intelligent to sit around and laugh with. I need to be around people who won't disown me if I gain 30 lbs. I need people who won't leave me if I get Alzheimers or Parkinson's Disease. And I need to be around people that I love so much that I'll do the same for them. You cannot buy that. You just can't.

And as a parent one of the hardest things I've ever done is try to teach that concept to my children. How do you teach a kid who is being mercilessly teased that one pair of sneakers really is enough? You can't take away their emotional pain. You can't beat the shit out of the little mongrels who are teasing them. I've tried explaining ad nauseum that "wardrobe scorekeeping" is, for the most part, limited to junior high/high school. I've tried to console them by letting them know that after high school--you have a much easier time getting away from the idiots. And at some point you really do realize that life is more important than glittery dresses, Dooney and Burke bags, Jimmy Choo heels and Hard Candy make-up. At some point you muster up the confidence to tell the "wardrobe scorekeepers" that what they are doing is shallow and juvenile. But what does a parent do until that time comes? What does a kid do until that moment arrives? I honestly don't know...I guess you just keep telling them the truth. You do your best to keep hope alive for them.

I received a sign a couple of days ago that made me think I might actually be "winning the war" against the materialistic bastards vying for my child's soul. I got a "Happy-O-Gram" in the mail from my daughter. She sent me a note on her school's stationary with that title. On it, she wrote:

Thanks for helping me be a more positive person. --Love you

From the looks of it, it is something they are doing for an advisory project. But out of all the people she could have written and all the things she could have said--she sent it to me and she wrote about an intangible thing, a trait that she believes I have helped her with. And let me tell you...even if you feel like you are hemorrhaging money...a note like that sure does make you feel just ducky...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Craptacular distractions...

Or should I call this distractions from the craptacular?...basically it all boils down to--I had a super craptacular (that means spectacularly crappy in duck-speak) day yesterday and I need to think about something else for awhile. I found out my youngest daughter has fairly frequently gotten shoved in the snow by some bullies (to the extent that they ripped her winter coat) on her way home from school this winter but didn't want to tell me because she didn't want me to start talking to the little bastards' parents, school officials, etc. for fear that the teasing would become more covert and intensify. My older daughter came home and found her crying, asked what happened and then secretly called me at work to fill me in. Since it didn't happen on school property, they don't have jurisdiction. Both my husband and I work until approximately an hour after the girls get home from school, however they are a few weeks away from being 12 and they can handle an hour alone...however it also means we aren't around when they are walking home from the bus stop. Thus leaving me with the issue--how do I insure my daughter's safety?

Anyways...that was just the "quick overview" it was far more complicated hence the title: Craptacular! So, let's talk about something else to take my mind off of this for awhile...Wow! Your hair looks great! Have you lost weight? You look really, you do...Read any good books or fun blog posts lately?

OK, well I could go on with that for far longer than a sane person should...quickly changing topics...have you heard about the Little Brown Dress project? It is a few years old, so you very well might have--but I love the whole idea of it. It was created/carried out by a woman in Seattle who wanted to make a statement against consumerism and the whole idea that women need to dress to impress 24/7 or they are worthless. So, she made a little brown dress that she wore 365 days as part statement and part performance piece. She did use other clothes she already owned to layer over/under the dress in winter, but other than that--no new clothes for a whole year! She washed the dress overnight every couple of days...thus negating any odor issues. Following that year, she started a follow-up project where she only wore 100% recycled clothes for a whole year. That means she only wore stuff she previously owned or stuff bought second-hand and altered by her own two hands and a sewing machine. To read more about both projects, click here:

I gotta say it again...I love that she did this project. I think it is completely bogus to have a bazillion outfits--most of which are rarely worn. I don't think a person should have so many shoes that they've lost count. Along with this, I will confess that I do have a purse/bag fetish which I have been actively trying to control...I brought about 15 different purses to work a few months ago and gave them away to my co-workers who snapped them up within 10 minutes of my sending out an e-mail--literally. I still have a shameful amount left in my closet, but they are like my babies! Would you give your baby away?...I think not... Oh, fine! They are purses and not human beings...I'll go through them and weed some more out, OK? Can I continue with my blog post now, please?

Anyways, my main point was how I totally respect the idea of functionality and frugality when it comes to clothing. For work, I have two pairs of black pants that I rotate. I have 5 different colors of shirts. I wear the same black shoes everyday to work. I have 2 coats---one black trench for spring/fall and one black heavy winter coat. It's pretty darn easy for me to get dressed for work because I've removed all of the "thinking" from it... So, if we wanted to take this idea one step further and apply it to other areas of our you really need 52 plastic food storage containers in your cupboard? Or 20 reusable water bottles? Or 73 pens/pencils? Do you NEED to keep every book you've ever read?...Ouch, that one hurt, didn't it? But seriously, I have quite a few books myself, therefore I know how precious they can be to one's heart...however, it is time to let some of them go--not all--not even most--just a few...start with 3. Put 3 books on Freecycle. Then wait a couple of weeks and if you haven't hyperventilated to death, put 3 more books on Freecycle. I actually did that last summer, but I did it at a garage sale and in much greater quantity. I ended up parting with over 100 books (I'm not exaggerating.) Out of all of those books, there was only 1 that I eventually missed. So, only 1 out of 100 or so books was really that necessary to my happiness/existence. It was a huge leap for me. I had to seriously throw caution to the wind to let them go. Truth be told, my husband and mother-in-law ran the garage sale while I was at work because I couldn't hang out all day staring at my beloved books leaving me...but I let them go and I feel better about myself and my house.

I've still got a long ways to go. I still have way too much stuff packed into my tiny house. But, when I think about things like the Little Brown Dress project and about how well the book purge went last summer...I know I can do it. Now...let's tackle those purses again...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reflections on the past (aka Archive meme)

A fellow blogger was kind enough to tag me with an Archive meme. So, I started reviewing my past posts. The whole "go green/eco-friendly" thing didn't come into play for me until last March/April. Before that I was just posting about my life. And you know what I decided after I read all of my historical blog posts? While I am secretly jealous of people like Crunchy Chicken, Causabon's Book, Little Blog in the Big Woods and Beth at Fake Plastic Fish...who get loads of readers and inspire people all around the globe on a daily basis, I can't do a blog like those. I have wanted to be like them very badly. All of them are awesome and I have NOTHING bad to say about them. But I can't do what they do. If it was my job and I got paid for it--I could do it. But with the little time I have left at the end of the day...not to mention the lack of energy...I just want a place where I can let my mind spew out what is troubling or entertaining it at present (sorry for the graphic description, ick!). Those blogs are their fun, passion and mental release...and that's cool. It is too structured and obligatory for my life though. If I get a wild hair up my butt and want to go off about the bizarro lady I work with who has ZERO sense of humor, is a complete uptight priss, is the abolute biggest computer/programmer nerd in the world but who treats her cats better than other human beings and collects unicorn paraphenalia---then that is exactly what I want to be able to do (true story/real lady). The next day I might feel like talking about a movie I love, my puppies, my family's psychiatric illnesses, how the Dave Matthews Band is so friggin' awesome, or how organic soy sauce is so much better than Kikkoman soy sauce--it is almost criminal.

So, I love all my postings because they all make up the ridiculous patchwork quilt of my life. If you have a spare half hour and feel like it, go back to the beginning and read them all (there isn't that many of them). By doing so you'll get a pretty good feeling of who I am, my sense of humor and what my life is like. Therefore, I'm now going to stop wishing I could be a really cool eco-blogger and I'm going to just keep doing what I'm doing.

I can't really fulfill the Archive meme rules, because they all blend together throughout most of my posts. Family, friends, self, things I care about...they meld together in my life and in this blog...that is what makes it "just ducky". My heartfelt apologies for failing the meme challenge!
But I also extend my sincerest thanks for causing me to step back and realize that I'm OK with myself and my blog. I don't have to become a beloved eco-blogger (even though it would be neat)...Just Ducky is enough.

**If you don't want to read all my posts, this one pretty much sums up how my mind/personality works:

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Meme...and other things Beaker and the Road Runner used to say...

Heavens to Murgatroyd! What in the devil is going on here? I'm getting tagged left and right! I can't help but get the feeling that memes are kind of the chain letters of the blogosphere...without the whole "if you don't do___ within 3 days your beloved will die and your house will forever smell like moldy cheese" thing tagged on at the end. Good thing too, because I'm allergic to mold and my husband and I have already decided that having 2 teenagers with mood disorders and 2 puppies is way more hell-like than death...which we often joke would be the "easy way out" and far more peaceful...And he's not leaving me alone with the kids at this point! No easy way out, Man! Don't even think it!

And doesn't the word 'meme' make you think of Beaker from the Muppet Show? He was so cool...his facial expressions were priceless. It also sounds a little like the Road Runner, but his sound is more of a "meep, meep"...which is different, but still funny.

Anyways--on to Burbanmom's ( meme rules:
(1) Link to the person that tagged you.
(2) Post the rules on your blog.
(3) Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
(4) Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
(5) Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

See how I snuck that link in there, Burbanmom?...I'm quick like that...Fast as lightnin'!

And now to the ultra-cool random things about myself...
  • I love the television show Psych. I haven't missed an episode yet. It is a comedy about a psychic detective--who isn't really psychic, but totally faking it. The characters are spot-on. And whoever writes that friggin' show has my sense of humor...completely and utterly my twin in a parallel universe...I'm convinced it is written by someone(s) that was born in the mid-70s and grew up in the 80s. I catch EVERY funny reference they throw in and laugh my butt off.
  • My dream job would either be the Quality Control person at the Crayola crayon factory or a Dog Hugger. I don't want to mess around with the paint or the markers at Crayola...just the crayons...I want to draw with crayons all day to test their quality AND I want to name the new colors. Oh! And I want to decide what colors get retired. As far as Dog Hugger goes...I want to play with cute dogs and hug them...I would even feed them, but I want someone else to clean up after them and take them to the vet.
  • My blog name is Just Ducky, but I HATE feathers. They totally and completely freak me out. I like rubber ducks...they are cute and have NO feathers... It's really sad, if I'm sitting eating a meal and I see feathers--I get a dry heave/gag reflex thing. I don't know why...I'm a freak...It's OK...I accept it.
  • I love the art created by the artist Shag. His real name is Josh Agle. His work has such a '60s vibe to it. It's weird at first to see all of the ladies in his artwork have pointy boobs, but his use of color and happy, party themes is cool....
  • I read the comics online almost everyday. I definitely have my favorites...Pearls Before Swine, Get Fuzzy, Brevity, Off the Mark, F Minus, Reality Check...I read them over at The cool thing is that they have the comics accessible from everyday of the previous month, so even if you miss a week or so of reading them--you never have to miss out.
  • I grew so tall so quickly--when I was in the 5th grade it actually broke my left leg. I grew 8 inches in 3 months. I had to have a cast on it for 8 weeks. I was 6 ft. tall (which is my current height) by the time I was 13.

I don't even know if I can come up with 6 people's blogs to tag... -my sister-in-law, and the first 5 people to read this blog post (unless you've already been tagged)! Is that a cop out? Maybe a little...wait a minute...I don't even have 5 regular readers...oh good depressing/embarassing...I'm going to go schedule an appointment with a therapist now...(and Leslie, I haven't forgotten about your meme tag...)

**Origin of the phrase "Heavens to Murgatroyd"...I didn't make it up people...I'm a pop culture sponge!....

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wa wawa wa waaaaaa

Ok, so that was supposed to sound like all of the adults in the Charlie Brown television specials...anyone else remember that besides me? Anyways...I sure hope I'm not bitching and griping too much on this blog...and if I am--why stop now when I'm on a roll?!?!?! Today's major gripe is: IRRESPONSIBLE PET OWNERS.

I read my employer's online classified ads (just the pet section) everyday. And it never ceases to amaze me how people can get a pet on a whim and then turn right around when they find the whole thing "too time consuming" and give the pet away...These are the kind of people I like to refer to as heartless, thoughtless bastards. I believe there are some ground rules that all individuals/families should follow when deciding if they should get a pet or not:

  • Do you have enough time to exercise the pet when needed?
  • Do you have enough money to cover food, toys, replacement of wrecked things the pet will inevitably destroy, vet expenses, city licenses (where applicable), a fenced in yard and boarding fees if necessary?
  • Are you willing to to spend the time/money to keep the pet up-to-date with any necessary shots and spay or neuter the animal when it is not intended to be bred?
  • Are you willing to keep the pet until it dies?...that means FOREVER...

Pets are NOT disposable. Now I understand that sometimes life circumstances beyond our control blindside us and occasionally render it impossible for the person to keep a pet (like an elderly person who needs to move into a rest home). This is fine. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with are the people who say that they "just don't have enough time to give the pet the attention they deserve"...WTF? Did you not have an inkling that you might be too friggin' busy BEFORE you got the pet? Another one of my "favorite" excuses is the cliche and ridiculous "unwanted gift" someone gave them a dog/cat/whatever that they didn't ask for or want and now they are trying to get rid of it. Who in the hell (besides a spouse/parent..and even then only after much discussion and consideration) gives someone a pet as a gift? Does it not occur to them that if the person really thought they wanted and could handle a pet they would get one for themselves?

Oh! And I just read a really good excuse last week..."we want to travel so we need to find a new home for our 11 week old puppy"...What? Excuse me...did you say that you wanted to travel? And it didn't occur to you PRIOR to getting the puppy that this might be some kind of hindrance? Reputable breeders don't even let you take a puppy home until it is between 8-9 weeks of age...people who aren't actual breeders will let the puppies go to new homes between 6 and 7 weeks of age typically. So if the puppy in that ad was only 11 weeks old then those people had the puppy for a pathetic 5 weeks maximum before they decided they just couldn't deal with the responsibility...

Another thing to consider is whether a particular pet or breed of pet will fit well into your family. After seeing Snow Dogs for the 25th time, my family thought it would be fun to get a Siberian Husky. When we read about huskies we found out that they are very high energy dogs that require frequent and consistent exercise. There is no way that we could agree to providing the dog with that much exercise so we decided against that breed. For other people it might be an awesome those Iditarod people or something...

In the end, my family talked about getting a dog for 3 years before we actually got one. We got a "free" oops dog (unplanned doggie pregnancy) that is half Golden Retriever and half Bernese Mountain Dog. He is beautiful...has a good temperament around children and can very much handle the cold weather we get where I live. He is a member of our family and my daughters refer to him as their little brother. The minute he started humping everything in sight, we got him neutered. We have a fenced in yard and he is up-to-date on all his shots.

When people talk about "going green" and being "eco-friendly" and all that jazz, we need to remember that being environmentally responsible extends to our pets as well. If we do not practice responsible spay/neutering (when the animal is not intended for breeding or showing), then we are participating in overpopulating the earth with animals. This then adds to a downward spiral of disease, etc. Being "the cat lady" with 97 cats in your mobile home is not exercising your freedom of choice, it is unsanitary and kind of a "tip-off" to underlying psychiatric issues...(I can say this because my family is full of psychiatric issues).

Another thing...I absolutely understand the draw of a purebred animal, but for those of you who are a little more open to the idea...some of the best animals you'll ever find are mixed breeds. Overall, their health tends to be much better than that of pure breeds. Our shelters are busting at the seems with mixed breeds. However, if you feel very strongly about a particular breed and want a purebred animal, what about the different breed pet rescues around the country? They have Golden Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, Siberian Husky, you-name-the-breed and they probably have a pet rescue shelter set up for it. You don't have to shell out $1000 for a can adopt one for less than 1/4 of that or even better...get one "free" from a local family, farmer, neighbor, etc.

Well, I've babbled on long long in fact that my words have turned into the whole Charlie Brown "wa wawa wa waaaa" thing...I promise that I won't bitch at all in my next post! No really, I mean it! I can stop bitching any time I want to. Yes, I can. Hey, shut up--you're not the boss of me!

Better go now...I'm starting to enjoy bantering with myself WAY too much...and just an FYI...this ducky is a spayed ducky! (Too gross? Too much information? Too bad!) ;)

**For the benefit of my husband who will have thought this phrase at least 3 times during the reading of this post: There is no such thing as a free dog/pet.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Really Big Wimp...

Some very conscientious and intelligent bloggers have been helping recently to spread the word about a news story that aired not too long ago regarding animal cruelty at a stockyard/slaughterhouse. I can't watch it. I just can't. I'm sorry, but I cannot watch it. I'm not a vegan. I grew up in a house full of deer hunters and I'm not opposed to responsible hunting (I never did watch the butchering though). As a matter of fact, to this very day if I visit my father's house during November (deer hunting season in our state) I can't look at the far right corner in his garage...I know that is where he hangs the a small child I hold up my hand to the right side of my face to shield my eyes and run through the garage while I say to myself "Look to the left, look to the left...".

But I cannot watch animal cruelty. I cannot watch animals, kids, women or disabled persons being abused. Really I guess it boils down to--I can't watch anyone being abused. It's a rule of mine...the few times I've seen videos that have even hinted at such things, I become a blubbering mess and it takes me DAYS and sometimes WEEKS to recover. I don't know if that makes me the biggest wimp in the whole world or not, and I guess in the end I don't care if it does. At least I'm not apathetic. Remember that clip in The Shawshank Redemption where Tim Robbins character gets jumped and they make it pretty apparent that he is raped a few times? Absolutely devastated me... It makes me uncomfortable to even type the words. It is a great movie, but whenever I watch it I have to fast forward through those parts. However, I digress...this was about animal cruelty at the stockyards/slaughterhouses and I've gotten off point...

Now please don't think that I'm one of those people that thinks it is best "not to speak of such things" or to "sweep it under the rug". I'm not. I'm the farthest thing from it. I think you should shout it from the rooftops and make people hear you. Abuse to any animal or any person is not acceptable--period. I would put up the fight of my life to save another from abuse...and that is the absolute truth. But I can't watch it. I won't watch it.

I'll just say this: If you eat meat, do you know where it comes from? Do you know how it gets there? Are you purchasing it from responsible stores, butchers, farmers? Do you know how it has been handled? With all of the meat re-calls lately, I'm hoping that these questions have crossed your mind. If not, why not take a minute now to think about it and research it? I won't be posting a link on this one (for fear I'll accidently click on it)...but if you use your favorite search engine it won't take you long to find out what's going on. We've got to stay informed. It is the only way...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Maybe my life isn't so bad after all...

I thought I had a bad day at work. I made an error in the computer system. It wasn't life threatening. No one will die/get hurt/be misdiagnosed. It was entirely fixable, caught quickly and in the grand scheme of things not a big deal. But it hit me hard...I'm human. I make mistakes and I HATE mistakes. There are a million bazillion proverbs and platitudes about mistakes being learning experiences, etc...but that doesn't change the fact that my subconcious goal is to be just like Mary Poppins--practically perfect in every way. I fixed my error, took responsibility and apologized for it because that is what adults do (even though none of these things was asked for/required). I was depressed about my mistake. I pouted and sulked once I got home. So what happened to change my bad day into "I thought I had a bad day"? I read this:;_ylt=Ailot6yH89g_34WbBqhIkp69IxIF

Some people are so poor that they have to eat dirt cakes. I am not one of those people. Did I really have a bad day?...No. The person eating dirt cakes for the third day in a row is the one having a hard time--not me. My life might be far better than I thought...and my heart hurts that anyone has to eat dirt...

This post is also a very good time to mention a book I am currently reading called Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel. It is life altering. I first read about the book in a tiny mention on Causabon's Book blog. The author of the blog, Sharon recommended it. It immediately sounded intriguing to me. The book contains true stories/pictures of 30 families from 24 countries around the world. Each family had their picture taken in a room of their home surrounded by all the food they ate for an entire week. Stop and think about that for a moment. To me, it is mindblowing. All the soda consumed...all the burgers...all the cigarettes smoked...all of the food NOT eaten because they didn't have any more...all of the good, bad, and ugly on display for the world to read. The total amount of money each family spent on food for one week (in both the local currency and American dollars) is listed for each family. There are stories about each family. You don't just see a snippet of their lives you get to hear their words as well. The book does not pass judgment. The book does not lead you down any pathway of thinking. It merely lays out the information in front of you for you to explore the cultural differences on your own. My words cannot do it justice. You simply need to page through it yourself to comprehend the depth of it all...This book is absolutely, unquestionably just ducky.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pet peeves and long sleeves...

Yes, I realize--I'm ridiculous (and the title of the post majorly sucks).

Anyways, first off--Long sleeves:
We have a blizzard warning here today. All of the schools are closed. Daycares, churches, gyms, senior center, colleges, community schtuff--all closed. My work--OPEN! Actually, people die if we close, therefore...we don't close. However, a bunch of my co-workers live out in the country so they had to head home (or they would never make it home thus leaving their children alone all night) and we are down to a skeleton crew now. Since I live in town...I feel an obligation to stay and cover so that others may leave. As long as the city bus is still running--I have virtually no excuse.

Now on to pet peeves:
When you have a clearly marked recycling bin (circular with a funnel kind of top) RIGHT NEXT TO a garbage bin (square with no lid)--why in the heck should bottles and cans ever go in the garbage? It has become a huge pet peeve of mine. We have these all over the place at work. It is obvious what gets recycled and why can't people get their cans/bottles in the recycling bin? Why do I need to go pick them out of the garbage?...well that answer is easy...if I don't they stay in the trash and get thrown away...How much easier can recycling be? You don't have to walk any further to recycle, the bins aren't identical...what gives? Hello people?!?!? Hit the damn recycling bin!

Coffee talk (Should be said in the same voice as Mike Meyers character on SNL):
FEMA sugarcoated the dangers of the Katrina trailers...for a couple years now people stuck in these trailers have been stricken with tons of health issues due to FORMALDEHYDE in the trailer materials and FEMA allegedly knew about it and attempted to cover it up. Shocked/Surprised?...No.... Sad?...Yes... People have been stuck in those trailers for 2 1/2 years. The situation was mucked up from the beginning. Being packed in stadiums...misuse of funds...lack of/severely delayed help...

That's all for now folks...I'm off to get some more hot cocoa...I'm one frozen ducky!

Monday, January 28, 2008

No more plastic bags!

In case you don't live near a Whole Foods store (I don't...the nearest one is 90 minutes away by car) or you haven't yet heard--Whole Foods will no longer offer plastic bags! Oh yes, it's true. Check out their website for yourself:
I'm very excited about this. I saw a representative from Whole Foods speaking on the news yesterday and I felt as if I was hearing an angel sing!...cough, cough...sorry about that...I get a little "rainbows and unicorns" at times...I'll re-join reality now...Anyways, I did here a rep speaking on the news and was very excited. He said everything that I would have wanted him to say and sounded really intelligent. I thought--what a great spokesperson! He is an asset to the cause.

Also, this weekend I read that Bill Gates (or rather his foundation) will be donating a bazillion dollars...OK, really it is $306 million which is essentially a bazillion to me... to help promote local farm practices in poverty stricken countries. The link is here if you want to check it out for yourself:
I hate being overly optimistic about news like this as I feel that all too often the money ends up getting mis-spent, doesn't get to the people it should, bad things screw it all up...but if it goes down as it is supposed to---it could be awesome. My hope is that poverty stricken people are enabled to successfully grow food to feed their families. I don't want them to grow corn for the biofuel industry... My hope is that they can thrive and help others. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how it all unfolds...

**My apologies if my adding links all the time annoys anyone, but I am a "I want proof!" type of person...I don't want to just read some bloggers re-telling of news...I want to check it out myself. Knowing how twisted the internet can get...I hope you'd want proof as's my way of keeping everything just ducky.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Random thoughts...

My husband made an incredible (and if I do say so myself--gourmet) soup on Friday evening. He stumbled upon a bag of locally grown root vegetables (carrots, turnips, parsnips, etc.) at our co-op. He made his own chicken stock--from scratch. He pureed the soup and topped it off with a roasted yellow pepper reduction. Then he made some homemade bread to accompany it. The meal was absolute heaven.

If you haven't heard of Etsy yet, then I strongly encourage you to check it out:
It sells exclusively homemade things like scarves, purses, dolls, cloth gift bags, greeting cards, beads and more! Most of the "shopkeepers" will do custom orders on request...which is my favorite part. I had some super cute fabric lying around that I wanted a purse made out of, so I contacted one of the shopkeepers, sent the fabric to her and in lightning-fast speed she had the exact purse I wanted made and shipped to me! I've also been working with one of the other shopkeepers on some reusable cloth gift bags. I'm having her make the exact sizes that I want in fabric that I am selecting myself. I can't begin to rave about it's awesome. You've probably known about Etsy for years...I seem to be the last one to find out about these things, but someone has to bring up the rear...might as well be me, I guess...

There is a new show on the Food Network called Jamie At Home. It features the British cook Jamie Oliver whose specialty is cooking with organic ingredients. It is set at his farm in the British countryside and often features him picking the vegetables out of his own garden prior to cooking them. It has a very natural, non-Hollywood feel to it...both my husband and I immediately liked the show. An added bonus is the theme song...My World by Tim Kay. It has a happy jazzy feel to it and has been played numerous times in my home since downloading it off of Amazon a week ago...

If you need quality inexpensive kitchenware/flatware etc., check out your local restaurant supply store. It is most likely open to the public and you can find durable products in the quantity you desire at a fraction of the cost. I wanted 4 iced tea spoons. I like the long handles and only wanted 4 of them...that's it...nothing else. Have you tried buying 4 iced tea spoons lately? They don't just have them sitting on the shelves at Target... My husband and I went to our local restaurant supply store after work on Thursday and found exactly what I was looking for--4 stainless steel iced tea spoons with NO packaging! AND the best part--they were only $0.75 a piece! I was very excited. Most supply stores sell things if you want an odd number of something like 3 glasses or 5 forks you can buy exactly the number you desire and nothing more.

Sam Elliott is hot...(just kidding my dear blog-reading husband)...(but not really...wink)...

Well, I better sign off now...I think that last statement probably got me in enough hot water...I'm pleading extreme exhaustion which has obviously rendered my judgment questionable...I'll get some sleep and that should make everything just ducky...