Voices and Stories of the Earth: The Significance of Narrative and Mythology for Environmental Sustainability

By Jacob Baker

If you will think of yourselves as coming out of the earth, instead of being thrown in here from somewhere else,
you see that we are the earth, we are the consciousness of the earth. These are the eyes of the earth.
And this is the voice of the earth. 

Joseph Campell (The Power of Myth, 40).  Read more of this post

Toxic Chemicals Are Just Fine For Your Baby. The Government Says So.

Did I get your attention? Good. The talented Betty Jo is has written a post just for OMK. Maybe, if we’re nice, she’ll send us more.

By Betty Jo

This article references additional new research about BPA (that plastic coating in most canned foods and soda can containers and (still) some plastic baby bottles). Exposure is near ubiquitous, and links to obesity and type II diabetes are now clear.
There is a reason for the Blunt Amendment in Congress, and it is not just about women’s health. It’s about permitting employers, insurers, and states to deny  health benefits for illness resulting from “life style” choices ( such as, of course, obesity and type II diabetes.) It’s a ‘morality’ issue after all. Read more of this post

On 20-year-olds

Warning! Adult content ahead. The sound recording in this post contains some language not suitable for young children.

In one of my classes this morning, a gangly 20-year-old stood on the stage tell us about some charity type work overseas. He spoke at 75 miles per hour and in a thick Australian accent, and I didn’t catch most of what he said. What I was able to comprehend had to do with living with a host family and using a shovel.

I’m just gonna come right out and say that [most/typical American] (<–see the qualifiers? ) 20 year olds are useless, self-important brats that annoy me. Being surrounded by them everyday on a university campus has removed any charitable opinions I may have had. The only thing worse than being around a useless, self-important 20-year-old in their natural habitat (uni), is running in to one in the real world and having to interact with them a professional capacity. Oy!

I think Louis CK does a fine job of explaining what I’m talking about here:

She was a Hummingbird-Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai was Kenya’s first woman to earn a Doctorate and the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize for her “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” In addition to many other significant contributions to the world. She passed away yesterday, 9/28/2011, after losing her battle with cancer. She was 71 years old.

I first learned of Wangari Maathai when I watched the movie, “Dirt”. She won me over with her big beautiful smiling eyes and her telling of the hummingbird story.

As environmentalists, peace activists, lovers of all species, and neighbors, it’s easy to get discouraged and feel like your efforts and opinions don’t mean anything. But they do. You, by how you live and the things you say, inspire other people around you to take up a cause.

I took Ms. Maathai’s hummingbird story to heart. It was following her rehearsal of it that I decided to do and act more in the causes I believe are moral imperatives and claim the title of “Activist”. Until that point I shied away from using the label because I feared it would offend and put people on the defensive or that it would require something of me that I wasn’t willing or couldn’t give. And I feared doing anything that would make me look like a ‘radical’.

What’s wrong with being radical?

Some of the things I do won’t rock the boat and other things I do are guaranteed to offend. Sometimes-most times- anything I do will be of little significance, but like I said in my OMK introduction:

When I’m long gone after living a comfortable life with fast transportation, mostly clean water and air, and more food options than I could use, my grandchildren will still be here. It’s my job as my clan’s matriarch to do what I can to make sure they, too, will have access to a comfortable life with clean water, plentiful food, breathable air and a place to stay warm.

This blog won’t make it happen, but it’s just one of many little things I can do.

So following Ms Maathai’s example I, too, have become a hummingbird.

OOOOOOOhhhhhhAhhhhhhh….Saudi Women Can Vote! soon.

Hey, check it out. Saudi Women can vote. (be sure to read the fine print.) My initial response to this news was positive, but then my inner uppity feminist yelled at my don’t make waves feminist self and I realized two things: 1. How noble of the Saudi King to grant women the right to vote. <—-read that again

And the other thing I realized is summed up perfectly right here:

“So I can vote, but I can’t get a driver’s licence,” said one Saudi woman from Jeddah, who said she had to remain anonymous. “If I use my name I may be breaching the guardianship law here.”

Laws demand that a male guardian – a father, brother, or son – accompany women on any trip outside the house. When some women in Riyadh attempted to test it earlier in the year by driving cars, the move was seen as a provocation by authorities and several of the drivers were arrested. Separation of the sexes in public is also strictly enforced.

Oh, I know. Many of you will think that those of us in the Western part of Little Blue ought to rejoice because ‘it’s a step in the right direction’. Maybe you’re right. But I just can’t get on board right now.

#&^%*@#!!!!!! IT’S 2011 AND WITH ALL OF OUR ‘ENLIGHTENMENT, INDUSTRIALIZATION, PROGRESS, ETC., WOMEN OF THE WORLD ARE STILL BEING RAPED, BEATEN,and HACKED TO BITS. THEY ARE STILL PROPERTY–a resource or an asset that a man (a human lucky enough to be born with a penis) has the right to buy, sell, and treat in the way that he sees fit. Women are still being held responsible for the crimes and misdeeds of men (something we can discuss in the comments).
Even in the US, women are silenced in the boardrooms, the office bullpen, and even in their own homes when they share that space with men.

So why am I supposed to be thrilled over this little bone thrown in the direction of women’s rights?

Does the treatment of women around the world remind you of how we treat something else of great value?

Poetry Monday: “The Answer” by Robinson Jeffers

From the Poetry Foundation: Once shunned for his unpopular political views and harsh critiques of mankind’s egotism, Robinson Jeffers has regained popularity in recent years as environmentalism’s most forceful poet-advocate. His uncompromising work celebrates the enduring beauty of sea, sky and stone and the freedom and ferocity of wild animals in contrast to human pettiness, meddling and greed.

The Answer

Then what is the answer?- Not to be deluded by dreams.
To know that great civilizations have broken down into violence,
and their tyrants come, many times before.
When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor or choose
the least ugly faction; these evils are essential.
To keep one’s own integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted
and not wish for evil; and not be duped
By dreams of universal justice or happiness. These dreams will
not be fulfilled.
To know this, and know that however ugly the parts appear
the whole remains beautiful. A severed hand
Is an ugly thing and man dissevered from the earth and stars
and his history… for contemplation or in fact…
Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness,
the greatest beauty is
Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty
of the universe. Love that, not man
Apart from that, or else you will share man’s pitiful confusions,
or drown in despair when his days darken.


Fruit Preservation

Hi Friends,

In the last few years I’ve canned my summer foods to preserve them and it works well, but I end up with a lot of unused product after a year. Freezing works well, too, but it takes up so much space in our little freezer. This year I’d like to try drying my summer fruits using a food dehydrator.

1.Do any of you have any experience with home food drying?
2. Do you have a recommendation for a brand of food dehydrator?


Garden Friday: Lasagna Gardening

By Idahospud

Several autumns ago I got a great deal on a bulk order of 500 Lightning Sun tulip bulbs, and I had dreams of planting them along the front of my lawn in a new bed for a spectacular spring show. I imagined drifts of shocking orange blooms marking the boundary between private and public space, and of having plenty of cut tulips to grace my house and to surprise friends with a bouquet of joyful sprays on long stems. Read more of this post

A Limitless Economy

[O]nce greed has been made an honorable motive, then you have an economy without limits. It has no place for temperance or thrift or the ecological law of return. It will do anything. It is monstrous by definition.

In keeping with our unrestrained consumptiveness, the commonly accepted basis of our economy is the supposed possibility of limitless growth, limitless wants, limitless wealth, limitless natural resources, limitless energy, and limitless debt. The idea of a limitless economy implies and requires a doctrine of general human limitlessness: all are entitled to pursue without limit whatever they conceive as desirable—a license that classifies the most exalted Christian capitalist with the lowliest pornographer.

-Wendell Berry, Harpers Magazine 2008



Garden Friday: Roasted Tomatoes

Nicole and I are on the same page today only she just beat me to the punch. Here’s how I preserve some of my bountiful summer harvest of tomatoes.

Originally posted: Sep 25, 2009

It is my opinion that there’s no better way to preserve tomatoes than to roast them.   Canned tomatoes are inexpensive and easily obtained from the market anytime.  Roasted tomatoes, OTOH, are not cheap and I think it would be difficult to find them with olive oil AND balsamic vinegar.  That said, I did can in the traditional way this year because I had a  plentiful harvest (yeah, I’m braggin’)  and I couldn’t afford all of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar required to roast a thousand tomatoes.

I’ve had a few requests for this recipe so here goes…

Pull them off the vines and rinse. There’s close to a hundred tomatoes in the tub below and you’ll use that many to obtain two to three pints of tomatoes. That will depend on size of course. The tomatoes in this picture are the smaller-medium sized Romas. The Romas from my 2011 are 3x’s the size.

Add generous amounts of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, pepper, rosemary, basil, and a touch of oregano or thyme. I used fresh herbs because I have them available right now, but dried herbs work  well. Don’t be afraid to experiment. I’m positive you can’t go wrong unless you burn them. [Note: I buy a less expensive bottle of balsamic vinegar for this recipe. There’s  a difference in the taste of the final product, but not enough , imo, to use the really expensive stuff.]

Oh, and don’t forget the garlic -very important, but not as important as the balsamic vinegar. The balsamic vingar is the reason why the tomatoes pop with flavor in your mouth.

Make sure to swish the ‘maters around in the oil/herb mixture so they get a good coating. Turn them flat side down and let them sit for at least 20 minutes  to marinate (or longer. I will do 45 minutes between batches).

Bake them for about 45mins-1 hr at 425 degrees until they look like this:

and then flip and cook them until they look like the photo above.
When you flip them they will feel like mush. Don’t be tempted to quit at this stage just because the tomatoes are mushy and a bit watery. Roasting the other side really seals in the flavor and texture. The second roasting doesn’t take long so be on the lookout.

Let them cool and then put them the storage container of your choice and freeze. I added a little extra olive oil  to completely cover the tomatoes and used mason jars for this batch.

Try them on pesto covered pasta or a chicken & provolone sandwich. (see below)

And after all of that hard work…

It’s time to eat!

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