Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
I don’t have a lot of energy to write at the moment. I taught six consecutive school days in a high school classroom, which was a lot of fun, but tiring. Different type of environment, and I spent a lot of energy helping the kids stay on task. And then, of course, I caught the virus they were sharing… and spent the weekend feeling pretty miserable. Better enough last night to get to Grant’s first SOGO concert of the year, and enjoyed myself.
Feeling good enough to get a start on the NaNo novel, not a good start, I had to spend a rather large chunk of writing and time wandering around before a good story began to gel. But now I am thinking it isn’t really meeting my need as an author. Second-guessing! Not a good trait…
What follows becomes a bit political in tone, fair warning that I am not advocating for any party or person, just expressing my concerns that people who could vote, don’t!
Posted by stidmama on 03 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: climate, economy, environment, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, health, hope, Making a Difference, parenting, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, poverty, social justice, Uncategorized, weather
I don’t know what the groundhog saw yesterday — my life is so busy, I forgot to check! Still, it does feel that Spring may be in the air in the Pacific Northwest. At least it was for today. Sunny, warm enough to be outside without a hat…
The hyacinths under the medlar are already sending up shoots, as are the bright pink tulips by the front door. The irises have nice tall lanceolate growth, and the fruit trees are beginning to bud out. I went outside today in fact, and pruned a little bit on my plum tree. Will take pics of the branches I brought in to force when it happens. A few days from now…
There are trailing blackberries beginning to take over a couple areas of the yard, and himalayan blackberries in places they have never been before. I will be itching to get out in the yard with the children on warm and dry days now… they can pull in an hour what would take me all day.
On a slightly different thread:
Our planet continues to debate the reality of global warming and what governments should do about it. Well…
Two weeks ago I noticed that we have passed 60,000 kWh on our electric meter — remember this house was put on the land for us in 1999, so all that power we have used is really just ours. Makes you think… how much power even our family uses. Of course, for some of those years we were homeschooling, and during the winter if I don’t have bright lights in the house I can’t function; both of those added to the use of power at home. But those points aside, I am trying to think of ways to conserve just a little more. In fact, today I decided to NOT have the TV on in the background while I worked. We’ll see if it makes even a dent.
The pluses for our family’s power consumption are that we don’t have airconditioning, and despite very warm temperatures sometimes, our house usually stays comfortable. The forced air heat for cool seasons is not as completely warming as radiant heat, but for now we stay comfortable enough, especially if we put on a sweater in the winter. with global warming becoming an increasing concern, I am conflicted about using propane for heat, cooking and hot water… but since part of our power also comes from a small coal plant to the south, propane does seem a cleaner heat source (I used to think all our power came from the dams, which have their own set of problems of course).
We live too far from town to reasonably car pool, and there is no bus service (on which I have commented/ranted more than once). I cannot ride a bike at the moment, but Tom and the children often do, to the little store or to my parents and to friends’ houses. It works out. We do “bundle” our trips into town as much as possible, and try to keep the cars in tune so they get the best possible mileage. And since trips into town usually entail some shopping, we try to bring reusable bags/containers and buy things with minimal packaging. But convenience does win out, more now that I am in school, and often enough to get my conscience a little bothered.
A plus to saving energy and materials is that we spend just a little less, and eat a little more healthily. Though we are not scraping bottom, our margin right now is much less than I like. And we are trying to model good world citizenship for the children. Every little bit helps!
Back to the original thread: Spring will be here soon. My garden needs work to be ready. I need work to be ready. Spring is a time of new beginnings. We can make fresh starts, try again to be what we dream of. We won’t be perfect, but how nice that we can be better!
Posted by stidmama on 20 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: caring, citizenship, economy, friends, fun, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, hope, Making a Difference, parenting, politics, Politics and War, poverty, social justice, teaching, Uncategorized
Well, after the partying is done and the confetti is swept up, after the last tourists have returned to their homes and life in D.C. resumes its normal frenetic pace, the president, his administration, congress and the people need to get on with life. The rest of us… we need to get on with life, too.
We were all urged, during the president’s first official speech after his swearing in, to be willing to go the extra mile, to do more, to demonstrate that, while the citizens of the United States have many good things, they are also tough enough to do the right thing. Like my grandparents, who were young adults during the Great Depression, we need to focus on the really important things in life, pull together and support each other, and do what we can.
I don’t know about you, but I was motivated by this. I had been putting off finishing the readings for my homework this week — and finishing the short paper that is due tomorrow. I decided that, blurry vision or no (I have an eye infection that makes it hard to process what I am seeing), I could do this. So I did. The readings are done, the paper nearly so (just tying up loose ends).
What else can I do? I will meet in a couple days with a student I normally see on Monday because the holiday meant we didn’t have a chance to work together and I don’t want to go two full weeks. I will meet for a snack with a friend on Friday. I will spend some time tomorrow looking for my address book so I can send out some new year’s notes. Connecting with people seems to be a good thing to do right now.
And next? Try to figure out a way to study for the next set of tests I will take… contact the school to be sure I am on the right track with my studies. Get my financial aid form filled out as soon as our current year’s taxes are complete. Clean out the closet, finding the clothes that I no longer wear that may yet be useful to others. Get the rest of the bookshelves up on the walls so I can walk around the house in bare feet again — the boxes of books are a bit in the way. And pick up the knitting needles and the rest of that large skein of yarn…
These sound like such baby steps. But they are important, to my productivity and to my family and friends, and to the people in my community. I am not likely ever to make a direct difference in the life of somebody in Africa or Asia, or even on the other side of Washington state, but perhaps if this corner of the world is a little better because of my actions, then the rest of the world will follow.
Our children are watching us! Are we teaching them how to take charge of less-than desirable situations and make the best of them that we can? Or are we teaching them how to complain and wait for rescue (remember the princesses in Shrek III)? We don’t have to solve everything today, or overnight, we just have to make a start.
The next steps are the first steps.
After several months of overall fuel prices dropping in our area (we got down to $1.76 for gasoline at the closest stations), they are now rising again. Almost 30 cents in two weeks at the local station which yesterday was at $2.08). No, it’s not my imagination, here is a link to KIRO TV’s article about the phenomenon. What I don’t understand is why the prices rose so quickly, so dramatically, in the absence of any obvious trigger. Yes, it’s winter — but usually gasoline prices fall in the winter. Yes, we had a massive snowstorm followed by major flooding that cut off our section of the country for a few days. But gasoline (and natural gas) here is delivered primarily by tanker ships and pipelines — our fuel supply was not limited. And prices rose before new deliveries were made…
Washington state does not have a law against price fixing or profit-taking on necessities. Perhaps it needs one. Meantime, we will cut back even more on our driving, as much as possible, given that the reduced gasoline prices were almost offsetting the increased cost of food. I really don’t know how people who are close to the edge financially are coping.
So often, we focus on the wars (which are mostly the result of men acting violently) and gang violence (again, mostly men). But there are other types of violence and abuse that affect the way the world works, and perhaps the most insidious and pervasive is the way women are treated as second-class citizens (or worse) in many places.
The United Nations has a Division for the Advancement of Women which highlights the work that is being done to establish the right of women to the same safety, opportunities and legal recourses as men.
Throughout history, women have been the standard-bearers for cultures, the ones who care for children, the teachers, the field workers, the nurses… occupations that are poorly paid and low-status. Throughout history, women have had to ask men’s permission to receive an education, to travel, to own property, to vote. In the United States, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote in federal elections (some states had done this decades earlier), was passed only in 1920… a mere 88 years ago. In many countries, women still do not have the right to vote.
Women who don’t have the right to earn a decent living, to participate in their governments, to challenge men who trample on their rights are more likely to live in poverty, to be abused, to be killed.
Along the lines of recent posts, I urge you to consider how you treat women. Yes, even if you are yourself a woman! Do you prefer to consult with a man “out of habit?” Do you assume that a man will be more capable of doing repairs on the house or car, or more likely to know the full details? Do you assume that women only can nurture young children? Do you assume that men can’t take care of a household — or that a man who does is somehow not truly “manly?”
On the other hand, if you are a woman who loves to stay home with the children, don’t think you MUST go out and become a mechanic! If you are a man who really doesn’t enjoy baking, don’t decide to provide the treats for your kindergartener’s class party (unless you buy them from a bakery).
The best way to honor women — and men — is to support their abilitities and interests, without the overlay of “shoulds” that come with cultural indoctrination. Without the limits of second-class status. With the full legal backing of rights that are explicitly written in to the laws and constitutions of nations.
Yes, we can make a difference. We can raise people up. We can establish equity. For everyone.
Posted by stidmama on 04 Nov 2008 | Tagged as: citizenship, economy, education, environment, Gardens and Life, good things, musings, parenting, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, poverty, social justice, Uncategorized
It appears, from very early returns and exit polls, that Barak Obama will be the 44th president of the United States. This is an historic day. Despite my hating to hear people use this phrase indiscriminately, in this case it is true. The people of the United States appear to have elected a person who is not of 100% European extraction. For the first time.
Recognizing that returns that are counted later this week — and next week — could change the outcome (as I write this fewer than 50% of all ballots had been counted), my heart says the reported results are probably correct. The news media have “got it wrong” before…
NOW comes the real test of my fellow citizens: can we work together now to address the pressing issues, to rectify the failed policies of the current administration, to regain our standing around the world as a true leader?
If you voted, good for you. If you didn’t, and you were registered, I hope next time you will vote. If you were eligible to vote, but not registered, I urge you to take the first available opportunity and get registered. In my own opinion, LOCAL races are the most important — the ones that have the most immediate, most personal meaning for citizens. And local elections are held frequently, annually at a minimum, even up to three times a year sometimes in our area. Most actual “seats” — the offices to which people are elected — are elected every two to six years. But there is generally at least one office on the main ballot for the year.
And there are usually levies for the local schools as well. Remember, our country’s future — and the comfort of your retirement someday — depend on the youth being educated properly. Even if you are not (never have been, never will be) a parent, consider the people who cook the food in the restaurants, the people who drive the trucks and handle public transportation… consider the nurses who will administer medication, the judges who will decide legal issues, the scientists who may (or might not) find a cure for your aches and pains. The good work of these people depends on good education. And good education depends on the support of the communities schools are found in. [Please note, this is also a plug for you to MENTOR youth, to VOLUNTEER to help the schools – in the classrooms or in fundraisers, to BE PRESENT in the life of a child, an adolescent or a young adult.]
Stepping off my soapbox now…
Congratulations, U.S.A.! Record numbers turned out to vote despite long lines, bad weather and other obstacles. Democracy in action.
Posted by stidmama on 15 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: blog action, citizenship, economy, editorial, education, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, Green Living, health, hope, Interesting Websites, musings, parenting, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, poverty, social justice, Uncategorized
Okay, I have posted a few links in the days leading up to today. As I was thinking about what to write, I decided to talk about what poverty is (and what it isn’t). And a little bit on abundance. This is my own perspective/opinion, if it helps you, great — if not… would love to hear your opinions, too.
I think that poverty is partly defined by what one lacks, and is also partly a matter of perspective. I’ll start with the second point first: in our area, most families have at least two cars, few students get free or reduced lunches, and at least in my acquaintance most people have health insurance. So a family with only one car, whose children receive free lunches and doesn’t have health insurance appears poor. But in another community I have lived in that isn’t that far away, few people own more than one beat-up car, no one has health insurance and nearly every child gets a free school lunch. In that community, the family with two cars that has to pay full price for school lunches appears well off. Obviously, if everyone around you doesn’t have enough to eat then you are all poor…
Perspective can cause you to “feel” rich, or to “feel” poor.
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