Two sides of every coin…

Today is Earth Day. I joke in my novel Whispers for Terra that in my neck of the woods I can expect ❄️❄️ on Earth Day. Yep. Two inches so far. Alas, true spring will come soon. The arriving geese remind me so.

The NO PASTIC JULY challenge was nine months ago. I am still laboring in the struggle to eliminate plastic in my life. I have made gains in the food storage department but the pain persists in others. Grrrr…Amazon packaging, supplement containers.

Have you noticed green/eco mentions in movies and TV shows? Have you noticed flagrant opposites? I have.

If you watch the goofy action romance called Ghosted, watch for Chris Evans who plays a farmer. Early in the movie he mentions the soil and food quality while selling at a farmers market. While flirting with the female lead, he drives home a point about caring for plants. My husband (who should write screen plays) predicts that it is the farmer’s very knowledge of plant life and their DNA that will cause him to be the hero and save the world. Fiction+green mentions=a planet win.

Flip that coin. I am reading a book where someone is pulling a single use water bottle from the frig in every other scene. Couldn’t they at least go to the sink and refill their plastic Nalgene bottle? Yet, I turn the pages. I really enjoy the author’s writing.

This leads me to the blame issue. Who is to blame? Is it the single use plastic user? Is it the writer who can romanticize it? Is the company who makes the single use plastic bottle? Is it the marketers getting rich when their single use water bottle marketing scheme send sales soaring. Is it us, the consumer being sucked in? I suppose like usual, there’s enough blame to spread around. Consumers-manufacturers-marketers…..

Enter companies who either cared or companies who listened to consumers who care. I am not promoting Prana in general but I am promoting the packaging in which my bathing suit arrived yesterday. Arrived in a paper bag. Bathing suit top, in a paper envelope. Bathing suit bottom rolled with a cute string tied around it-no packaging. The bathing suit was made from recycled nylon. Kudos Prana.

Flip that coin with me one more time. I buy some pricey collagen. Sells in an 8″ tall cylindrical container. It has, about 4″ of powder inside. That’s 4″ of empty plastic. The responsible consumer in me wrote them suggesting they downsize on the plastic. Just make the freaking container smaller, narrower….anything to use less plastic! The response? It is necessary because the powder settles. 50% settling of their product. Call me a doubter. Could it be their price is so high that marketing guides them to give the appearance of more product?? Ugh, yet I buy it, don’t I? I have switched brands. Just not as good dammit. I do however, buy another powdery product, it holds the same 16oz quantity. It is in a smaller plastic container. Hmmmm. 🤔🧐 Is it like one of those mystery spots…I think not.

Who’s to blame? What do you think?

Anyhoo…Give some love to the earth today.

March Madness..not just for men..

Welcome to March Madness….does basketball have your attention, or is it the spring weather? Maybe it’s Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. For me, March and madness go together this year.

I have been all kinds of surly about the fact that we even need a month dedicated to Women’s History. It’s bothered me this year because we have been fighting the fight for centuries and I am pissed it still has to be fought. There’s no men’s HIStory month, because as the word implies, men wrote the history.

There’s a line from a 2017 movie The Post, with a dutiful wife explaining to her husband how women feel being marginalized. It is something like, “It’s not that we are ignored. It’s that we are not even seen.” There’s a huge difference.

That is where I take comfort. We are no longer ‘unseen’. Women are very seen and some people really hate that. Some still try to ignore women. Uhm, sorry…no. Some enact laws to push women back down. Just like their old jalopy thinking, it’s backfiring.

I take comfort in throwing away my six year old “Vote Women” bumper sticker because we have many in offices. I do need a new bumper sticker that says, “Vote smart women.” Not just hyper verbal, not just charismatic, not just opportunists, but smart.

I take comfort in a radio discussion that gave equal time to the Women’s basketball teams when talking about the Sweet 16 rankings. Seen and no longer ignored. Their stands are full.

I acknowledge that sometime the press women receive can likely be attributed to some guy who has a sticky note on his computer that says ‘don’t forget to mention the women’. The sludge is moving through the rusty pipes and that guy is slowly emerging from the 1960s. I can take some comfort in that.

Progress is slow. Too slow. Progress can be two-steps forward, one-step back. But there was a time when these things were questioned… women having their own credit, women working when pregnant, having credit cards, being fighter jet pilots, being astronauts, women serving as president (oh wait…), serving on juries, going on birth control, getting an Ivy League education, expecting equal pay (hmmm).

I know there are men who never questioned the above. I was raised by one of them. I married one of them. I am friends with them. I take comfort in that.

This month I thank the women of the past, present and future. The women who never let up, the women who grabbed the torch, the people carrying it ablaze into the future.

Enjoy the rest of March and try not to go mad.

Shine on

I offer you a beautiful metaphor of an article about trees accepting the seasons of their years. From the Daily Ohm and sent by a good friend, Molly.

If you ever struggle with accepting what is happening as the years pass by, please click the link to the article. https://www.dailyom.com/inspiration/aging-gracefully?utm_medium=email&utm_source=inspiration&utm_content=test

In the meantime, I ask you find something beautiful about each photo. Particularly winter tree.

In case you are thinking…”Well those are ugly!” Not so…

A friend, Holly listened as I lamented about disliking fall arriving in my garden. I didn’t like the foliage dying. I mourned the end of the bountiful colors. She viewed fall very differently. She loved it because she could now see the more subtle beauty that was covered, camouflaged, by glitzy beauty. She could honor what had supported the glitz all summer.

For years I was told Mullen, these floppy, spindly plants were noxious weeds. I cut them. I pulled them. I even sprayed their seedlings (no worries, just with vinegar). Last summer a Forest Bathing Guide, who owns Listening Pines in Colorado Springs, Colorado posted the myriad of medicinal benefits Mullen hide inside. My perspective flipped and this season I will look forward to their wakening.

We don’t always know the beauty that is hiding.

As we get older and we feel embarrassed about our skin, our hair, our bodies consider this: it is time to shine for who we are.

People no longer look at me for those parts I thought were me in my 30s. They get the real ME….the person I have always been but was obscured by all those physical aspects I let define me.

Oh god, not like it’s easy every day to hold this belief. Hell no. But like the winter tree, or the Mullen plant, we have much yet to offer the world.

Let that shine.

If you like my blogs which are a smattering of this and a smatter of that, I invite you to check out my novel Whispers for Terra. http://nancyhouserbluhm.com It embraces trees, soil and finding who we are.

Treeing the Holiday Spirit

It’s that time of year for circular, fairly pointless discussions regarding the real Christmas tree vs artificial. Either way you are guilty….of something or other. Yeah, the artificial tree is used for years, but then lasts eons longer in landfills. Real trees are some creature’s habitat, and needed for erosion control, sequestering carbon, and yes, oxygen. It’s really a no win discussion.

If you decide the real tree is for you, then it’s where and how. To buy from a mono culture tree farm, a tree lot since they are already cut, or to cut down your own? What is one to do with it afterwards? Recycle? Trash it? Or maybe you are one who gets a live tree and plants it in your yard.

Having lived in the foothills of Colorado at 8400 ft elevation for 25 years, we have run the tree dilemma into the ground. In the rescue-an-already-cut-tree-phase, we drove hither and yon to pay $15.00, while other years we went around the mountain corner to pay $120.00. 😳😳 We have purchased from a local tree lot only to find out it came from Canada. (ahem…why??..Colorado is loaded with pines).

We can’t have a live tree. We’d have to keep it in the house until the ground thaws in June and then rent a backhoe to dig in our decomposed granite soil. Nope, and nope.

Being considered a ‘forest fire zone’ by insurance companies, we have to mitigate our property regularly to stay insured. There ya go! We are mitigating, doing our civic neighborhood duty by cutting that beautiful tree from our own property… (ok, that one year, it may have been a few inches into our neighbors yard 😬…). We are content in our logic and will go head to head with anyone on it. Come January its decay feeds the soil, nourishes the deer, or it ends up in our fireplace.

A positive about the yearly ethical tree discussion is that we ARE thinking about it. Always growing up with live trees, there was no environmental awareness or concern. The only controversy was who got stuck standing guard by the ‘possible tree’ while the rest of the family searched on for an even better one.

However you holiday, do it consciously, be merry, and hug a tree.

If you like my minderings, follow me on Instagram @jnbpine or check out my website-nancyhouserbluhm.com;

Say Yay!

Ok, full disclosure…I am no spring chicken…hell, I am not even a Gen X-er. So I offer a ditty, compliments of my husband…

Say yay to the gray

lines are signs of the times

wrinkles be damned

I am still who I am

While sitting in a seminar hosted by a delightful millennial about use of BookTok for authors, a woman about my age commented no one on TikTok was going to look at her old face. I had to admit, I had wondered the same.

After tracking the woman down in the ladies room, we and another not-Gen X-er (displaying beautiful waved, long silver hair) chatted about cultural perceptions of gray hair, along with face wrinkles and chest lines. Mostly, I espoused my current irritation with the woman’s required upkeep of youth. If one positive thing came from the pandemic, surely it was women embracing their gray hair. We were made to rip off the bandaid but the inner beauty emerged.

As I started down the path to gray my husband, who is an extremely broad-minded man, balked at my choice. With a sudden awakening I realized dying my hair was such an implicit bias. My bias was thinking I had to maintain the facade of youth. His was holding women to a different standard. Neither of us expected a man to dye their gray hair. Only positive adjectives get attached, most often, distinguished. Women, it’s frumpy, tired, old, letting herself go.

I am here to say…YAY to the GRAY! There are women my age who have not grayed, but is Nancy Pelosi is one of them? At the age of 82 does she really still dye her hair?? If so, I say, “As a leader in the United States House of Representative, you show your power, now show your gray!”

Do I still cringe when using the magnifying mirror, oh god yes! I also talk myself off the ledge with greater and greater ease. Wrinkles be damned, I am still who I am.

What are your visions, biases, fears, beliefs on the physical aging? I would love to discuss.

If you like my writing, I invite you to peruse my other posts and subscribe. Feel free to share. I follow a theme until it bores me and move on. You may also enjoy my novel, Whispers for Terra.

https://www.amazon.com/Whispers-Terra-Nancy-Houser-Bluhm-ebook/dp/B0936YS5GK

Not my photo, not my hair but love it!

Isn’t something better than nothing?

Drop by drop is the water bucket filled. (wise author at bottom)

Walk with me to my way-back machine….While in my 20s at a wedding, I was talking with a passionate new dentist. I was not much of a flosser in those days… a couple days a week. His words? Don’t even bother, I wasn’t doing a bit of good. That made NO sense. I continued on my merry way; two days became four, then five, and now it just feels grimy to go one day without flossing. Maybe habit became obsession…but I have my teeth.

Isn’t it better to exercise 2 days a week than none? Isn’t it better to save some money than none? Isn’t better to clean periodically than never? Isn’t it better to use less plastic than use all plastic? In my world, a resounding YES!

I am too lazy to research, but based on my know it all perspective, habit forming can take a long LONG time and require many re-starts and adjustments. If it’s important to you, never berate yourself for tripping off a path or taking the low road. After a month of out of body experiences, observing how easy it was to grab plastic, my reaches ARE shifting. It is now easier to grab the glass container. It’s easier to grab the foil. I still have not re-embraced beeswax, but never say ‘why bother’. Oh! A friend gave a good tip… if using wax paper or beeswax…putting a rubber band around it, holds it in place better.

Keep walking, keep trying, keep forging on….

Abe Lincoln said- Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.

Buddha is worth repeating- Drop by drop is the water pot filled

I would love to hear about habits you are trying to embrace or things that have worked for you.

Photo by CocaKolaLips on Pexels.com

We didn’t get here overnight…

How in the heck did we get to this plastic wasteland? Were we hoodwinked by marketeers? Are we zombies going through our day? Did it start out good and go bad? Was it a perfect storm?

Like so many things, it started out with a benefit and went south later. In 1862 when Parksine, the first form of plastic, was invented as a replacement for ivory and turtle shell for billiard balls, it was an incredible day for elephants and turtles!!

Fast forward to the late 1940s. Plastic was around, but it wasn’t part of everyday use. People had become extremely efficient with re-use and minimal waste while conserving for the years of WWII. Projecting myself into the era, I wonder if I’d been weary from sacrificing, and ready for whimsical? How do I respond when someone offers me something that eases any part of my work day? Something I had no idea I wanted. How do I respond to that thing I didn’t know I needed, but truthfully, does an effective job?

Thus the perfect storm was created. Something that diminished the need for ivory, served a noble purpose, eventually morphed into someone seeing more opportunities. Enter plastic wrap and the single use plastic bag.

People were accustom to recycling, repurposing. They weren’t seeking a different way but in the 1950s, ad campaigns created a need, drove a need. It’s true, we all love trying new things. Follow that up with another market for oil, followed by the greed god waking, and here we are. We are some crazy level of addicted to single use plastic. Our landfills can’t keep up.

We are made to feel we need to adjust our behavior. When I wrap my half eaten apple in plastic, I am the problem. We can, and absolutely need to stop being zombified plastic consumers, but let’s also turn our attention to the producers. The oil companies, which spur the production of plastics, need to adjust their creation, or at minimum, recycle more of it. Sure some plastic gets recycled but that is also asking us, the consumer, to fix the issue, not the producer. Possibly, if we the consumer, ‘just say no’ to plastic then they can’t sell their wares; we force their adjustment. However they, the producer, can do the right thing too. They can say yes to the planet and ‘just say no’ to the profits.

Many consumers are doing our part. The producers can do their part.

Photos from presentation by Eco-Cycle from Boulder Colorado.

Ya Gotta Start Somewhere..

They say that which you focus on expands. Apparently I messed up and have been focusing on plastic expanding in my life, not out! I have been trying to cut and gut plastic from my household use, really I have. I remember PB&J sandwiches being in wax paper bags in elementary school. I gave bees wax paper as gifts a couple years back. Wax anything is just not as ‘perfect’.

I am taking note of my plastic use more. That’s something, right? After eating part of an apple, I wrapped it in plastic and THEN noticed, “Oh crap, I used plastic.” So yeah, ya gotta start somewhere! Caring, noticing, re-thinking… it is starting.

I wrote the beginning of this post about 2 weeks ago. I am here to say I AM shifting away from my plastic use without an output of so much energy. Yippee!! 🎉👏🏼

I encourage all of you to keep trying to cut the mindless plastic use. Plastic is amazing for somethings. Then there are those things I use it only from habit. The function is no better than can or glass. Definitely the ‘single use and toss’ items need to go. I will not be purchasing items.. ok trying to not purchase items… that are unlikely to get recycled and carry the recycle numbers 3, 6, or 7. You keep gutting where ever you can.

Just like this little guy below…..start from where ever you land.

Never as easy as it sounds….

Two days in to July. Easy so far, given we haven’t done a.single.thing….However, as we emerge into the world, to the grocery, restaurants, it will get harder. Remember I mentioned my niece who does day 28, well turns out she also does day 17 except when traveling. As we shared space for a few days, I noticed she practices many pro-enviro things.

That brings me to different approaches…. I have a friend who is definitely the plastic police and I say yay for her! She probably makes multiple people a day think about this issue. Me?? I am more an easy-does-it sort of woman. I do get on my soapbox for people buying plastic throw-away water bottles over and over. I see absolutely no need for that. Plus, Nestle is just a glutton for Great Lakes water. For Earth’s sake, just get a fricking reusable water bottle! Even if it’s plastic and you wash & use it over and over…better than 2-3 a day in the landfill. We gave out Nalgene bottles, filled with little treasures, years ago as holiday gifts.( Geeesh, true confession, we probably put little plastic airplane shot bottles in some. This stuff can be daunting!)

Back to the easy-does-it approach… consider picking 2 things on here you can do but don’t do now. Equally, as much as I am an easy-does-it, I am rarely a cold-turkey-type. (There was that one time we spent 2 days as slugs on the couch after getting all sugar out of our system.)

Our first commitment: we will be doing our damnest to stop buying supplements in plastic bottles. Many come in glass bottles and I think they are more consistently recycled. Please correct me if wrong… It may not sound like much effort, but if you saw how many supplements are in our cupboard, you would be applauding. 👏🏼👏🏼🎉

Second: Nearby Evergreen ReFill sells bulk detergents. I take in my (yes) plastic bottle and they refill. First I need to know what their product is…I am picky. They also take empty toothpaste tubes and dead pens. https://sustainevergreen.org/our-programs/zero-waste/refill-station-zero-waste

One more thing I should consider is finding out where the heck I can re-cycle Amazon plastic delivery bags. I know I can somewhere. I have saved a few in a… er, uhm, plastic bag. 🫤

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

If you decide to take on even 1 change, I would love to hear what it is! It’s a process folks!

If anyone has an idea how to stop doing day 24, the plastic garbage liners….I am wide open.

OK next post….who’s really to blame for our plastic crisis.

When we were so proud….

Remember when we were all buying plastic bottles that were PBA free? We felt we were helping our bodies, helping the environment. We were proud. Alas it was short lived. As is needed, the environmental ante has been upped. Poor turtles with a straw in their nose got our attention, as did all the sea life with 6 pack beer rings around their neck. The ante continues and jury is out for how prepared I am.

I have taken the NoJulyPlastic challenge. 5 days remain to watch and consider where I need to cut more. It’s coming off a wonderful but plastic pathetic traveling weekend. At home we use a great deal of glass containers and wouldn’t consider tossing a can or jar into the trash. Maybe we are the only horrible people out there, but when we travel we are very irresponsible. It’s not that we couldn’t bring home our beer cans, or wine bottles but if a place doesn’t have recycling set up…it’s a gonner. Yes, I felt guilty about the plastic trash bag left in the hotel room with glass and cans, but yes I walked away from it.

We reuse most of our plastic….probably too many times and god only knows what we leach into our bodies from them. 30 years ago I washed my plastic baggies for reuse and hung them to dry on a wooden rack. I lost my way in laziness somewhere in cross country moves but we do reuse some.

If you look at the NoPlasticJuly calendar the 28th day seems particularly difficult for me to imagine ….no plastic tampons. One of my very conscientious nieces informed she uses a cup and feels it captures more… so yay my hero niece.

I do believe the youth are ready to save the world if a some old farts would just get the hell out of their way.

Watch for the next plastic dilemma post ….Who’s really to blame?

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