Monday, April 20, 2015

It's Earth Week!

{Nature therapy picnic dinner up the canyon.*}

After diverting some of my creative energies in other areas of my life, other projects, I am eager to get back to writing every now and then.

I have good excuses and I have lame excuses. But, here we are in Earth Week and let’s see…what has been going on lately, on the green front…

  • Talking with the City's mayor about some possible green initiatives (fingers crossed). Sound familiar? Read this.
  • Seeking out other citizens who might be interested in forming a kind of "green" committee for the City.
  • Engaging in City planning open houses and trying to chum up to City Council members to pass along my vote for bike-friendly planning.
  • Working on developing a logo for the Free SWAP. Collaborating with a talented up-and-coming designer. By the way, our next event will be June 6th, 8:00 a.m. to noon--please come, participate, give, receive, volunteer, have fun!
  • Working on expanding the SWAP to more cities--yup, we want to franchise this baby. Contact me if you want to collaborate on a Free SWAP where you live!
  • Volunteering at my youngest's school, preparing for the Earth Day assembly and activity. The kids will be planting milkweed on school property to create a habitat for Monarch butterflies--Monarch numbers have been declining.
  • Meeting with the principal at my middle child's school to discuss some visioning. As the incoming PTA president (a wee bit reluctant, I must add), I am hoping to expand the school's current recycling program. Along with a few other fun ideas maybe...
  • Trying to grow seeds indoors to add to our very little patch of dirt that my kids and I feel we can commit to this year. (Landscaping/gardening, not a natural forte for me. In fact, I kill trees. Yes. With an 'S.') Wish us luck.

[I've been engaging in a few other non-green projects that are delightfully stimulating and maybe I'll share about those sometime in the future.]

Anyhoo, I've been having fun with all this community visioning. The flip side of all that means that my Domestic Goddess skills (if I had any in the first place) have suffered.


For example, I may or may not have considered wearing swimsuit bottoms when dressing in my unmentionables today.

Not even going to discuss the kitchen.

Or the living room.

Or the kids' lunches.



And so, Wednesday is Earth Day and Friday is Arbor Day. Please do something friendly for the earth. And for those Arbor Day folks, please-oh-please plant an extra tree for me!

{*Yes, that is, indeed, some non-green-friendly packaging you see in the photo. See? I told you.}

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Embracing Winter Hibernation

January and February are, objectively, the *worst* months of the year.* Up until this point, each year I tend to find myself locked in a struggle with Old Man Winter that leaves me worse for the wear.

From the time we all emerge each Spring until we put away the Christmas decorations, we are going and doing, always. Sometimes we just need to take a breath. 


And just let ourselves practice being. 

(Yes, a first-world luxury, I know.)

I have decided this year to let January and February be the perfect time for that.

Here's an analogy that has come to mind recently:

When tripping on the sidewalk and slo-mo heading for the pavement, you're initial instinct is to put your hands down and stop the motion completely. Doing that, however, usually leaves you with scraped up hands and knees. (Never mind the new vocabulary words you just taught the neighbor kids.) Years ago my brother told me something he had learned in his martial arts training: "If you fall, roll." Using the existing force and shaping your descent, say, by rolling, will save you from much of that road rash. I recalled this bit of advice years ago when riding a bike as a Mormon missionary in Norway. Flying through the air, I remembered that little tidbit and tucked into a sweet ninja-roll on impact. I wounded my pride (I was wearing a skirt, people, can imagine how that looked) but I didn't get hurt.

I have decided to apply this concept to my winter blues. I know I'm going down; it's inevitable. And so I shape my descent-into-darkness by declaring a hibernation-retreat. (By using the words "retreat" or "sabbatical" you consciously shape your winter blahs to adopt a more healing form.) No longer will I try to stop winter from happening. I will embrace it.

So far this hibernation (which began with school break in December):

*lazy, unplanned days
*watching movies as a family
*break from household chores
*letting the family subsist on Christmas goodies so as to avoid making meals, cause, let's be honest, that gets old sometimes ("Chocolate cookies for breakfast? Why sure!")
*moved rooms--not exactly lazy and relaxing, but the result is healing
*LOTS and LOTS of laundry after 2 weeks of, ahem...(see the third item listed)
*voluntary measles quarantine (5 days, semi-strict, just for me while awaiting results from blood test)--"Oh, shoot, I can't commit to anything, cause, quarantine..." (When the health department employee called to report my results she asked if "no more quarantine" was good news or bad news. She admitted to wishing someone would put *her* in quarantine. I can understand; the health department has been crazy-busy this last week. Sending you all my best, dear Health Department Lady!)
*some breathing room away from Facebook (not that I don't care about keeping up to date with the world and my friends/family, but it never stops and I need a breather--I know I'm not alone here)
*organizing boxes of papers, mail, stuff, and more papers while binge-watching old favorites on the telly
*and, of course, getting lost in books--delicious (current book: Wild, by Cheryl Strayed)

Maybe I'll do some other stuff. Maybe I won't. Maybe I'll take naps. Maybe there's a reason why it's called a "blanket" of snow.

Circadian rhythms wholeheartedly sanction, nay, demand winter hibernation.

Who am I to argue with Nature?

Pleasantly surrendering.

Old Man Winter: from Nemesis to Namaste.

*This disparagement of January and February is specific to those in the higher latitudes of the Northern hemisphere. For all you Southern hemispherians, swap it for July and August. 

(My sister found an article about how folks in Denmark settle into the long, dark winters: "How 'hygge' can help you get through winters")

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fall Free SWAP Report

Guess what? It rained.

(This is why I reserve the pavilion every time. It's worth it to me to know that we will have protection in case of inclement weather.)

But, people came! Delightful new volunteers (like Ericka and Eva, in group photo above) joined veteran volunteers (I'm looking at you, Roy and Jill, in group photo above) in a soggy, but satisfying, day of service.

{Kerry out in the rain at the start of the swap. I think she was posting a notice online that we were, indeed, still holding the swap despite the rain.}

The rain made quick work of some of our beloved cardboard signs that we have used over the past several swaps. They disintegrated before our eyes, poor things. (To do: print more business cards in English and Spanish, and order new signs!)

Some of our younger volunteers eagerly took on their assignments as umbrella escorts. They took turns walking participants to and from the SWAP using a generously-sized golf umbrella.

Fortunately we had some decent stretches of time when the rain let up. Some of the things that came and went included a few TVs, some skis, industrial power vacuum, instrument cases, gun cases, toys, clothes, and kitchen ware.

One gentleman came with his trailer fully-laden with construction equipment, tools, gas cans, a ladder and a bunch of stuff I couldn't identify. It was a handyman's--or handyma'am's--trove of well-loved goods. Story was* the man's neighbor, a widow of 5 years, had a garage full of her husband's things that were sitting, untouched, unused. This man helped his neighbor clean out her garage and offered to load up his trailer and bring the load down to the SWAP to see if others could put those tools back to good use. It was like Santa with his sleigh. And most of that stuff was snatched right up, ready to start new adventures.

{there he is in the white shirt behind the trailer--bless you, good sir}

{couch and armchair--yup, you can bet those got taken}

{Hey, there's my dad helping to bring in another donation. It sure was a treat to have my parents in town that weekend!}

New volunteer Suzan took it upon herself to donate her truck and her driving to help anyone take large loads home--like the couch. She had spent years driving delivery vehicles for Deseret Industries.(D.I. stores are LDS/Mormon Church-based thrift stores) Now she wanted to drive for us. Bless her. In the end we used her truck to load up all the unclaimed items for delivery to the local thrift store. I'm just going to try to forget, though, how it poured buckets and buckets as we were cleaning up and loading the truck. Seriously. Buckets, folks. Really not the best circumstances. But, hey, we survived to do it all again another day.

{heaven-sent Suzan (wearing the hat) and her truck}

We are always interested in hearing about people's experiences--what they brought, what they found, why they came, etc. The rain made it difficult for people to linger and chat and leave comments/feedback, but we got a few responses. Glad to hear that folks found things they could use. 

We had quite a few food bank donations. We take the food donations to the Community Action Services and Food Bank in our sister city of Provo. Community Action serves people throughout the county.

{delivering your donations--thanks, folks!}

By the end of the event we had counted approximately 450 participants. Considering the rain, I count that a roaring success, indeed!

I've got to tell you: this really is a great "job." Kerry and I get to witness such generosity within the community. And such gracious receiving. And such devoted volunteers. It's a pretty good gig. I highly recommend it. 

You should do one in your area. ;)

*The swift nature of the swap means that I usually don't have time to grab my pen and paper and get down all the details exactly as they are told me. This is my attempt at a best-guess remembrance of the story.

NOTE: I did not expressly receive permission to identify the people I discuss here. That is why I use only first names. If you see yourself in a photo and/or I have written your name and you would like me to remove it, please email me: desertgreengoddess (at) gmail (dot) com. Our paths cross so briefly and a little chaotically, that I forget to ask publication permission. But I find such value in your participation, in your stories, that I can't help but want to share. Nonetheless, I will respect your request to remove your name and image, if you wish it.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

My Favorite Recycling Center on the News

Interesting look into what happens after the truck picks up your blue recycling bin.

Check it out here.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Biking Improves Intimacy

Oh, no, no, no…not “that” kind of intimacy. Though it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve written about that on this blog.

I mean the kind of closeness that comes when we remove the walls we put up.

In this case I’m talking about the physical walls of a car.

I have wanted to take on the challenge of biking my youngest child to her school—4 miles away. (My other children go to neighborhood schools that are close enough for them to walk.) I have been neglecting my bike a lot lately. My go-to vehicle has definitely been my car. So, I’m out of shape, out of practice and my kid just keeps growing bigger and heavier as time goes on. With the upcoming change in season, however, my window for biking was/is closing. Last week I did it! It took me 40 minutes, each way and the next day I couldn’t walk down the stairs without wincing. But I recovered and I did it again yesterday. And again today. (If you live in my area you know how delicious this weather has been. That’s not going to last.)

Here are examples of the intimacy you might experience while biking around town:

{I'm loving the colors}

Intimacy with the crunchy leaves and the sun on your arms and of the simple conversations with your darling child sitting in the trailer.

Intimacy with the laws of physics. And how fun it is to zoom down the big, big hill and scream “WAHOO” together with that child.

Intimacy, during that delighted screaming of “WAHOO,” of all the inadvertent protein that just flew into your mouth. Note: remember to floss tonight.


Intimacy with those same laws of physics on the way back UP that…big…..(pant, pant)……BIG……(huff…huff)….


Hey, for those who were hoping for some heavy breathing in this post, that was it.

(I’ll wait for you to catch your breath.)

Intimacy with some of the best parking spots at the store. Right. Up. Front. “In your face, cars!”

Intimacy with the elements. Blue skies, warm sun, colorful trees. You are not a fan of getting intimate with windy days, though. You two are not friends.

{Pedestrian and biking trail in between home and school}

Intimacy with the roads and the sidewalks. And the mental list your backside is making for the city maintenance crews.

Intimacy with cars. And drivers. You’ve got "special" words and "special" looks-with-your-eyes that you save for those really, really close, close moments together.

Intimacy with the subtle fragrance of the orchards as you pass by and with the crisp water that quenches your thirst while waiting at a stoplight.

Intimacy with the various places on your body that sweat perspire glow.

Intimacy with the people you see. When you’re rolling around on a bike, no barriers, you notice people more. You find that you’re much friendlier with others when biking. When you see other people out biking, you’re like, “Hey, look at us! We are BOTH biking! Look at that! We’re pretty much best friends now! Because we’re both biking!” The relative novelty of it all binds us together. The same secret-society phenomenon occurs when hiking trails in the wilderness. (I imagine this does not occur in places like Copenhagen, where EVERYONE bikes. Not so novel.)

By contrast, how many times do you make a new bosom friend when driving? At a stoplight, you look over and you wave and smile and gesture. The other driver rolls down the window and looks confused. “Look at us!!” you shout happily and point. “We’re BOTH driving!! In cars! Isn’t that great?!” Smile and wave and a big thumbs-up to your new best friend.

Yeah, maybe not so much.

{What kinds of things do you notice when you’re biking or walking?}

*I'm* not the best spokesmodel for bike culture, but *this* blog is drool-worthy fabulous:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Decorating Naturally

I found a perfect example of an all-natural Halloween decoration. It was at the top corner of my living room. Too bad that when I came back later with my camera it was only the cobweb. Unlike before, this time it was empty.

Hmm...must be camera-shy.

I'm sure she'll show up again. Somewhere.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thank You, Deseret News!

A big Thank You to Wendy Leonard and Michelle Tessier of the Deseret News for the story you did on our soggy, but warm-and-fuzzy, free swap yesterday. (Truth be told, it brought me to tears.)

Here's the link: The Spirit of Helping: 'Take Whatever You Need'
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