EcoGrrl-icious

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Happy Friday!! This week has been especially awesome for us as we went to my husband’s green card interview, and of course passed with flying colors! So he’s officially a US resident, and in 3 years he gets to apply for naturalization. Kind of a bummer that he can’t vote until then even though he’s paying taxes, but it is what it is….

In the meantime, here are some other things crossing my laptop and my mind…

* As January is when we visit our optometrist for our annual vision checkups, I was digging these 6 Sure-Fire Tips to Prevent Glaucoma article. Every bit of education helps!

* Seriously grossed out by the Republican majority we currently have, with this article from the NRDC listing just a few of the reasons: 14 Ways the 114th Congress Plans to Attack the Environment and Undermine Public Health.

* My husband and I were talking about how disgusting the word “emasculate” truly is. Anytime you say this word you are denigrating women, because when the term is used, it is to mean that they are effeminate, and to be more like a woman is seen as a very, very bad thing. As this post so succinctly discusses, Fears of Emasculation Would Disappear if Men Could Just Accept That They Are Not Superior To Women.

* We rented a Ziptruck last week and did a bunch of garden prep work including getting a lovely Cherokee Brave Dogwood tree. My husband had been wanting one for a while as he said he wanted to be able to pick me a bouquet of dogwood flowers like Old Crow Medicine Show lyrics for Wagon Wheel, a song that was getting a lot of airplay the year he started following my blog and we began the online flirtation which led to long calls, skypes, handwritten letters, care packages of books and art and the like, and of course, trans-Pacific flights and eventually where we are today: happily married :)

* And speaking of love, Naomi Klein’s article for Yes! Magazine on her climate heroes is pretty great, including talking about solutions: “It’s not just about flipping from big coal to big green. We need to invest in the tools that frontline communities need to win, like real economic options that are owned and controlled locally. We need investments in the next economy and the next paradigm so that people in Richmond, Calif., for example, have the opportunity to work in a solar co-op instead of in the Chevron refinery.” Her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, is now on my reading list.

* 11 Resolutions for a Better You – Proven by Science is so awesome. Print this out and put it on your fridge.

* Well, today is the last day that I am 40. Tomorrow I turn 41 and I can really say I’m “in my 40’s” my hubby says. So with that, I share from the New York Times, What You Learn in Your 40s. I especially loved these three tidbits:

  • Advice from someone in their 40’s “Just say “no.” Never suggest lunch with people you don’t want to have lunch with. They will be much less disappointed than you think.”
  • By your 40s, you don’t want to be with the cool people; you want to be with your people.
  • By your 40s, you’ve gotten better at spotting narcissists before they ruin your life. You know that “nice” isn’t a sufficient quality for friendship, but it’s a necessary one.

* And finally, I just love this song and li’l video to go with it that I found on YouTube that I had to share it (can you tell we’re in baby mode?!):

Our Depave Project – Before, During, and After

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DrivewayBefore

BEFORE: The south side of our house has always been a very long driveway. No car, just sun radiating up onto the house keeping things uncomfortable in summer and just lookin’ ugly. (This photo was taken about five years ago when I had a “driveway garden” – before I removed the evil ailanthus “weed trees” and built my raised beds in back.)

DrivewayMidway

DURING: Last year I thought “why do we need such a long driveway? It’s not like even when I had a car I parked in it!” With that and the “transitioning” nature of our area of town, security was also really important to keep folks from trying to break in again, so my husband and I thought, heck, let’s just take half of this out! We saw a couple other homes with shortened driveways and teeny garages like ours which were used as garden sheds, and hired some big dudes to take this out in a day. We set up a temporary path and laid out a ton of wood chips to keep the ground from becoming a mudpit in the rainy winter.

Fence

AFTER: Now we’ve got the fence built around the area, and it’s allowed our backyard to wrap around the house and give us more privacy and a ton more garden space!!! Big props to GardenCraft here in town for a seriously beautiful job!

Newfence

AFTER: A peek inside. Even with four inches of woodchips the rain did a doozy and it’s a little mucky so I have more coming in from the arborist site ChipDrop. I will post another “before and after” in the summer after all our planting is done in here and we’ve got a pretty path from the shed to the gate. Yay!

Steinem Saturday

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“With instruction from sources as diverse as Plato, the Jesus of the Gnostic Gospels, Emma Goldman, and the Community Workshop School, we could make this vision a reality:

  • Religion could stop telling us we are inherently sinful, and encourage the godlikeness and self-authority in each of us instead.
  • Business could depend less on titles and taking orders, and more on the satisfaction of work that is self-governed, rewarded, and well done.
  • The military could ask us to live for a cause, not die for it, and save their promotions for those who solve conflict without violence.
  • Prisons could provide positive ways of showing individual worth instead of stripping inmates of all identity, without even the group pride that soldiers are offered in return.
  • Most of all, children could feel loved and valued from the beginning.

Those elaborate, oppressive systems are just as difficult to create as their supposedly unrealistic alternatives – perhaps more so, since no uniform system, no matter how repressive, has ever completely succeeded in producing uniform people.  One thing is clear: The human mind can imagine both how to break self-esteem and how to nurture it – and imagining anything is the first step toward creating it. Believing in a true self is what allows a true self to be born.”

~ from Relearning, in Revolution from Within

EcoGrrl-icious

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This week has been all about the Hydro Flask hiring. Awesome!

This week has been nearly all about massive Hydro Flask hiring. Awesome! (image source)

* Love this website Foraging for Wild Edibles – from huckleberries to mushrooms to salal, lots of ideas, pictures and more. And digging that salal will be at the upcoming Native Plants Sale, an annual event here in Portland beginning January 21st that makes it kind of like getting concert tickets. Plan your order and get online at 7am! Crazy and fun and I love it :)

* Great recipe for DIY Almond Milk that my hubby and I are determined to try soon!

* Stalking the Minefield of Male Entitlement - great, great article to get the mind thinking about the old term “boys will be boys”. Read it.

* LOVE this. Make Love Not Porn examining the reality of love and sex that gets so heavily distorted by pornography. Something to share with the fellas.

* Speaking of partial nudity, don’t toss your delicates – donate your bras and lingerie here!

* Need a smile? 20 Signs You’re Succeeding in Life Even if You Don’t Feel Like You Are.

* And finally, Dan and I visited several midwives around town this week and learned so much. We’ve found we are madly in love with Two Rivers Midwifery and Alma Midwifery after meeting with them, and know that when we get pregnant our home birth – and the whole process before and after – will be with one of them. Yay :)

Workin’ 9 to 5 (…and giving back in 2015)

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In 2014, I pledged 2% of my monthly pre-tax earnings to be donated to twelve environmental, youth, and social justice nonprofits. I’m so thrilled to say that this was a fantastic success, and that for 2015 I am going to continue this practice, except at 3% and focusing on locally run groups, woo hoo!

The 12 local nonprofits listed below have inspired me and while three of them are returning from last year, most of them are new, so I thought I’d introduce them to you:

  • JANUARY: Voz Worker’s Rights Education Project, who “empowers immigrants and day laborers to gain control over their working conditions through leadership development, organizing, and community education.”
  • FEBRUARY: Vibe of Portland, who “connects local teaching artists who are passionate about bringing their love of music and visual arts to the students they work with.”
  • MARCH: The Portland Kitchen, a favorite of mine, who “offers free, comprehensive culinary after-school and summer programing to Portland high school youth, age 14-18. Our mission is to empower urban youth to graduate high school with job skills and improved eating habits.”
  • APRIL: The Dougy Center, who “provides a safe place for children, teens, young adults and their families who are grieving a death to share their experiences.”
  • MAY: Bradley Angle, who “place any person experiencing or at risk for domestic violence at the center of our services and provide support for safety, education, empowerment, healing, and hope.”
  • JUNE: Start Making a Reader Today (SMART), an organization I volunteer weekly, who “reaches thousands of Oregon children with vital one-on-one reading support, and books for those who need them most.”
  • JULY: Northwest Mothers Milk Bank, a human donor milk bank in the Northwest who screen donor mothers, pasteurize donated breastmilk and test it for bacteria, and distribute safe donor milk by prescription to infants when their own mother’s milk is not available, all to increase the health and survival rate of babies.
  • AUGUST: Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors, an environmental education “instructional model that engages a student from kindergarten through sixth grade – providing an average of 36 science enrichment lessons during their elementary experience.”
  • SEPTEMBER: Oregon Tradeswomen, a longtime favorite of mine, who “was founded on the principles that women deserve and can attain economic self-sufficiency through pursuing careers in the building, mechanical, electrical, and utility trades while helping and encouraging the trades industry build up a diverse workforce.”
  • OCTOBER: The Northeast Portland Tool Library, where I’ve been a member since their inception, supports “people of all income levels by providing homeowners, renters, and business owners of the Northeast with tools and the knowledge to use them.”
  • NOVEMBER: Write Around Portland, who “bring free 10-week creative writing workshops to hospitals, schools, prisons, homeless youth shelters, senior centers, low income apartments, treatment facilities and other health care and social service settings. Workshops culminate in published books and public readings to connect readers and writers.”
  • DECEMBER: Project POOCH, who “provides opportunities for youth in corrections to develop the personal and vocational skills they will need to become responsible, productive members of the community. The program accomplishes this by teaching youth to care for and train shelter dogs for adoption.”

As a 20+ year member of the National Resources Defense Council, they will recieve a special donation as well in the name of our to-be-conceived :) We owe our children and each other and all other living things a healthy planet, and the NRDC is on the front lines making real change throughout this country. Heck yeah.

Happy New Year !

Steinem Saturday

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 “Instead of making a comparison between two discriminated-against groups, try putting the powerful in the place of the powerless. It’s a great reality check. Take language, for instance. Many women feel invisible or aberrant when they are subsumed under a masculine term that is supposed to be universal; yet they are often made to feel trivial and nit-picking if they object. But look at it this way: Would a man feel included in “womankind”? Would he refer to himself as “chairwoman,” “Congresswoman,” or “Mr. Mary Smith”? If a male student earned a “Spinster of Arts” degree, a “Mistress of Science,” or had to apply for a “Sistership,” would he feel equal in academia? If men had grown up seeing god portrayed only as a Mother and She, would they feel an equal godliness within themselves?

The same linguistic concerns hold true for race and religion. If titles like “novelist” and “engineer” were perceived as black unless otherwise stated – if “white novelist” or “white engineer” were necessary qualifiers – would whites feel equal ownership of those professions? If political issues put forward by white male citizens were called “special interest” and those of women and people of color who are the majority were the mainstream, who would feel themselves marginalized? If white people were defined in the negative as “non-black,” or Christians were defined as “non-Jews,” who would see themselves as the norm of society?”

~ excerpt from “Relearning,” in Revolution from Within

EcoGrrl-icious

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Flying over the Cascade Mountains from Central Oregon back to Portland after a great new client meeting!

Flying over the Cascade Mountains from Central Oregon back to Portland after a great new client meeting! Not bad snapshot from my window, especially knowing how foggy it was at home!

This week flew by, I don’t know about you. With a new client and a bunch of new prospects for even more work, I’m full of adrenaline as I was flown to Bend, Oregon for a whirlwind set of meetings and dinner then flew back early the next morning – whew! And with new insurance providing coverage for the first time in 2.5 years and a plan that actually covers the things *I* use most, I’ve also been in super duper healthcare mode, hitting up my dentist, naturopath, and optometrist all in one day this week – perfect timing after wrenching my back last week (while sleeping, of all things) as my ND does acupuncture at the end of each appointment (big love).

Here are some keepers I wanted to share with y’all…

* Environment and Social Justice have always gone hand in hand as far as I’m concerned. This article from NRDC is a great reason why this connection deserves more attention.

* As we want to build something to deal with the overflow in the winter of our rain cistern (yes, even 300 gallon cisterns overflow – here in Oregon so much that I actually leave the drain open rather than allow it to fill all the way up in winter), we love this super easy create your own rain garden article I found in the Oregonian’s archives!

* Hardcore to read, but so tragically true – The 6-Step Process to Dispose of the Poor Half of America.

* Geeking out on how to best use your dishwasher is what I did this week, learning little tidbits on filling it more efficiently. Groovy.

* So my new client I visited, Hydro Flask, is awesome in a lot of ways, both in the eco and the social: they just picked 3 nonprofits in Central Oregon where they are based, and gifted $100K. So, so cool. Oh yeah, and if you know any marketing or human resources managers who’d dig their cool li’l mountain and desert town just 3 hours’ drive from Portland and 5 from the beach? Drop me a line!

* And speaking of travel, yes it was odd to fly for just 24 minutes, but on the other hand, check out the uber-green Oxford Hotel where I stayed. Supa-dupa-eco, y’all.

* I’ve convinced my husband we should “finally” get crackin’ on ordering seeds. OK I’m amped up for 2015 gardening, I admit. New for 2015? Ground cherries. Yummers.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
~Anne Frank

Workin’ 9 to 5 (…and the reality of parental “leave”)

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So here’s what’s been on my mind as we kick off 2015:  I’m a solopreneur with a husband working a traditional job, and we’re getting ready to start our family. Our predicament, that many in my situation have faced, is planning for how to deal with the complete and utter lack of paid parental leave in this country, along with the complete dismissal of solopreneurs when it comes to being able to get benefits like short term disability insurance. You see, I can’t get that for myself through my spouse’s healthcare (only he can for himself), and companies like AFLAC only offer it to business owners with at least one employee.

With my husband having a whole two weeks of vacation and me having no paid time off, we know that we need to save up a shit ton of money. FMLA policies dictate my husband must be at his employer for at least one year, which means that I can’t technically have our baby until at least October – you know, if he wants to have his job protected and take that whopping 12 weeks off without a paycheck.

So not only will I have the unique challenge of putting my business on hold while not stopping it altogether, as I’m the top earner (my husband’s traditional job gives us truly affordable healthcare – because FYI, the Affordable Care Act did not make healthcare affordable for middle class folks, let me tell you), I also have to make sure we have living expenses for at least three months at the very least, along with a plan of how to run my business as the baby goes from being a “thing” to a more sentient creature. You know, a little person. That’s of course what everyone deals with – and we know we’ll figure it out, that it will all work out just fine, but in the meantime? I’m working my arse off to get as much work and therefore money saved.

It’s important that we refer to this as PARENTAL leave as well. I’m so sick and tired of articles about Marisa Meyer from Yahoo and how they all asked her about work/life balance, while no one ever asking once to male executives how they’re going to handle their impending parenthood. It’s a twisted world we have out there, y’all, when mothers are treated as and expected to be primary caregivers with fathers being minimized as paycheck-providers.

And because I’ve always thought it sucked how things worked in this country when it comes to our being one of the only three countries in the world without paid parental leave, I thought I’d share this very telling infographic about the topic…